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It’s An Important Annual “Massage”

VMCExamYou’ve gotten a new puppy! Congratulations! Getting a puppy is a great deal and requires a lot of hard-work and dedication to making sure she grows up to be strong and live a long healthy life. So how do we ensure that this happens?

Start off by getting her examined by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will take a look from nose to tail to ensure her health is good. Preventatives and diagnostics like the fecal examination will be recommended to further ensure that there are no parasites that could be causing her harm.

Yay! It’s her birthday and she is one year old now. Where has the time gone? Now what happens with Lucy? Well, most likely she’s coming up due for some vaccines and other preventative diagnostics such as her heartworm test. At this time it is always recommended to have the veterinarian take a look at her again to make sure her weight has been steady, that she gets all of the vaccines and preventatives needed for her current lifestyle, and that there aren’t any concerns.

The annual exam gives us an opportunity to evaluate Lucy’s heart for any murmurs or abdomen for any pain, discomfort, or organ enlargement. This is also often a time when veterinarians may find that her ears are showing signs of infection and owners mention that “Lucy has been scratching at her ears a little more lately.” It is a very common situation, we understand. We are all busy working, raising families, and taking care of the pets that we may not notice subtle signs of our some times very stoic pets.

Our pets age quicker than we do and therefore have changes that occur within a short period of time. Seeing Lucy during a healthy visit once a year gives us an opportunity to talk more extensively about her health and lifestyle and what we can do to make her as healthy as possible for as long as possible. We don’t always get the same type of quality time during a sick visit since we are concentrated on finding on the root of the problem and focus on the treatment.

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What Else Can Be Done Preventatively?

Dental Machine

You will always hear the veterinary staff talk about preventative care during your healthy visit. These recommendations are the most current recommendations backed by scientific studies conducted by experts in the veterinary field and are put in place to help our pets live long and healthy lives with us.
Preventative products such as heartworm, flea and tick preventions all protect pets not only from pesky and often deadly parasites, but also against the diseases that these parasites carry. Fleas carry diseases like Hemobartonella, other parasites like the tapeworm, and can cause systemic problems like anemia or allergies. Most commonly ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease. But did you know that they also carry a bacteria called Erlichia that infects the body’s white blood cells or sometimes cause skin infections at the bite site? Adult heartworms cause damage to the heart and lungs, weight loss, exercise intolerance, and death. Not to mention that the treatment to kill the heartworms is quite expensive and difficult on the dog during the long process.

Intestinal parasite coverage is included in many heartworm preventative products. For a review on why intestinal parasite coverage and dewormings are important, please see our previous blog post <a title="Intestinal Parasites" href="http://www web based project management tool.vmcfortmill.com/whats-all-the-stink-about-a-fecal-exam”>here.

Vaccinations are very important to prevent contagious and often deadly diseases. For a review over each disease, symptoms, and treatments, please see our previous blog post here.

Lastly, veterinarians often recommend a dental prophylaxis or cleaning, a procedure that the pet must undergo general anesthesia to have his/her teeth cleaned on an annual basis. A regular dental cleaning and routine dental x-rays are important to keep not only the teeth healthy, but also the pet. A buildup of tartar is a buildup of bacteria which can enter the bloodstream and affect organs causing illness. Gingivitis and abscesses are very common conditions that are prevented with regular cleanings. Brushing a pet’s teeth daily using a vet approved toothbrush and pet toothpaste will definitely help keep tartar from building up saving time the pet is under anesthesia as well as saving money.

Prevention is key to ensuring a pet lives a long, healthy, and happy life. They are a part of the family, after all.

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What’s All The Stink About A Fecal Exam?

<img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-2231" src="http://www.vmcfortmill.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Microscope-200×300.jpg" alt="Microscope" width="200" height="300" srcset="http://www.vmcfortmill.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Microscope-200×300.jpg 200w, http://www.vmcfortmill.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Microscope project management web app.jpg 640w” sizes=”(max-width: 200px) 100vw, 200px” />

Checking a pets stool at any age is important to maintain the health of your pet and your family. Parasites can be present at any age even while your dog/cat may not even show symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, etc.). Some parasites can actually spread to humans through direct contact with the pet’s stools or even just by walking around barefoot!

We recommend checking a fecal sample at minimum once a year during your pet’s wellness visit. This is an easy screening for the most common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats. It is also important to rule out parasites any time your pet his having diarrhea and/or vomiting. The best way to prevent the most common parasites is to give your pet a monthly heartworm preventative which includes a dewormer. VMC carries Trifexis, Heartgard, and Revolution for our canine patients and Profender and Revolution for our feline patients.

Common parasites in pets include Roundworms and hookworms. Hookworms and roundworms can be harbored by your dog or cat and transmitted to children who are living in homes with pets. In some cases these parasites can cause blindness in humans. It is thought that 30% to 50% of dogs and cats carry gastrointestinal (GI) parasites and that 1 to 3 million people in the U.S. have infections from the same parasites carried by pets. Children, the elderly and immunocompromised people are at high risk. (www.veterinarypartner.com )

Dogs get infected with hookworms and roundworms by walking places where other dogs have defecated. The microscopic roundworm eggs and hookworm larvae end up on your dog’s feet. Your dog then licks his feet and infects him or herself with these GI parasites. Three weeks later, your dog is shedding hookworm eggs and larvae from his GI tract. If your dog licks his anus and then licks your child, or if your child pets your dog, he or she can become infected with these parasites. (www.veterinarypartner.com)

Ask your veterinarian about checking a stool sample next time your pet is in for an exam. Checking just gives you peace of mind that your pet is healthy and your family is safe from these parasites.

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What Diseases Do My Pet’s Vaccines Actually Cover?

Vaccines are so important in maintaining health and keeping the spread of disease from occurring. What exactly are these vaccines covering? Here is an overview on the diseases that VMC carries vaccines for.

For our Canines:

Distemper is a highly contagious and severe systemic disease that may initially present as an upper respiratory disease but can progress to gastrointestinal issues and even attack the central nervous system. Signs are generally lethargy, ocular and nasal discharge, cough, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia, and seizures. This disease is mostly seen in young dogs between three and six months old that are unvaccinated. Treatment is often IV fluids, antibiotics, nebulization for congestion, and anticonvulsants for seizures if needed. Pets with this disease need to be quarantined and isolated from other dogs.

Parvovirus is also a highly contagious and extremely resistant virus. It lives in the environment for up to seven months or longer. Puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs should be kept away from areas known to have had parvovirus present until fully vaccinated. If contracted, puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs will show signs of lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea often seen with blood, and decreased appetite. Pets with this disease are quarantined and placed on IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and in some cases blood transfusions are needed. This virus can cause a high likelihood of mortality if not caught soon enough.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is not only contagious to other pets but is also zoonotic to humans. It is contracted via coming in contact with urine from an infected animal or swimming in contaminated waters. Many wild animals such as rabbits, mice, rats, squirrels, and deer among other wildlife are common carriers of the disease that can cause kidney or liver failure. Treatment is supportive with hospitalization and antibiotics if caught early enough.

Bordetella (covers parainfluenza virus as well as Bordetella bronchiseptica) also known as kennel cough is a common upper respiratory disease found in shelters, boarding and grooming facilities, as well as dog parks and doggy day care facilities. It is spread via close contact with infected dogs that show signs of coughing, ocular and nasal discharge, and decreased appetite. Treatment is antibiotics and isolation from other dogs until signs are resolved.

Hepatitis is caused by the canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). It is easily transmissible from dog to dog via contaminated bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, and nasal discharge. Signs may initially look upper respiratory affecting the larynx and trachea, however can affect the liver and kidneys but shutting them down and causing a blue hue to the eyes. The disease affects any unvaccinated dogs however puppies are most susceptible.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which is carried by ticks. Often most adult canines do not show signs of the disease but they can develop what is known as “lyme arthritis,” which is arthritis, decreased appetite, and fever. Antibiotics are used to help eliminate the carrier state. Dogs with a higher risk of tick exposure should be vaccinated on an annual basis.

For our Felines:

Panleukopenia is very similar to the parvovirus in dogs. It is a very contagious and resistant virus causing vomiting and/or diarrhea, anorexia, extreme lethargy/depression causing the kitten to hide, and some times sudden death. This virus is stable in the environment for up to one year. It is advised that all unvaccinated kittens and cats are kept away from areas that are known to have had the virus present. Intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medications are used for treatment.

Feline Calici Virus is a common contagious upper respiratory virus often seen in conjunction with oral ulcerations and rarely arthritic pain. Felines that have contracted calici virus will often show signs of lethargy, decreased appetite, sneezing, nasal discharge, and occasionally joint pain. Supportive care is given by prescribing antibiotics, maintaining proper hydration and nutrition, or pain relief for oral ulcers and/or joint pain. Isolation of these cats is vital to preventing spread of the disease.

Rhinotracheitis is a very common contagious upper respiratory infection in cats caused by herpesvirus. Signs often include sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, conjunctivitis, and poor appetite. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the case, but most cats can be treated with oral and/or ocular antibiotics. Some may benefit from environmental dehumidification or even hospitalization. These cats are highly contagious to other cats and must be kept separate. Felines become carriers of the virus once infected with the virus. The virus will remain inactive within the body until stress is caused bringing it back to active status causing all of the previously mentioned signs.

Leukemia is a retrovirus associated with immunosuppressive disease. The virus is found in salive, urine, tears, and milk of infected cats and is spread by direct contact via fighting, grooming, or exposure to contaminated food bowls, food, water, or litter pans. Clinical signs are anemia, a decrease in appetite, depression, weight loss, and secondary infections. The treatment for these felines is supportive to help maintain a good, strong immune system. Prior to vaccination, it is recommended that all felines be tested for the virus. Leukemia positive cats should be kept as indoor only pets in order to keep the spread of the disease.

For both our Felines and Canines:

Rabies is a highly contagious and extremely dangerous disease affecting the nervous system resulting in death. Rabies is spread via saliva usually through bites or any open wound that virus laden saliva has come in contact with. Signs most often include wobbliness, irritability, nervousness, any behavior changes, and hypersensitivity to light or sounds. There is no cure or treatment for this disease, so prevention is always important. It is so important, in fact, that this vaccine is required by law to be given to any domestic dog or cat as well as livestock.

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They Might Be Tiny, But They Have A Big Job

This week alone 24 PetWatchwe had three situations of lost pets being found and brought to us to be scanned for a microchip.

Two out of the three did have microchips and were reunited with their families quickly. One of the two pets had been away from his/her family for several months before being picked up and scanned.

The third was luckily reunited with her family quickly as well despite not having a microchip explanation. Posters and emails were put out in search of her. An employee who happened to live in the neighborhood got the email and put the family in touch with the finder of the dog. Who knows how much time could have passed before the owner was found without the convenience of a microchip.

What exactly is a microchip?

It is simply a chip that is the size of a grain of rice which is then placed underneath the skin via a large bore needle. It is not a GPS locater. It has a very unique number which is tied to the company that made it and is specific to that pet. Registration of that chip is extremely important because without it there is no tie to the owner (name, phone number or address, for example).
A veterinarian or shelter will be able to scan any found pets for a microchip. If one is found, it can be looked up in a database that has the owner’s contact information.

Luckily here at VMC, you are handed a microchip registration form to fill out when you request a microchip. Our staff then registers the information for you, but it is up to you to keep the information current.
Please call us for an appointment to have your pet microchipped. The cost for microchipping is $35, or it can be done during an anesthetic procedure such as a spay or neuter at $29.

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Watch Out For Feral Cats This Winter

Feral Cat in Wheel WellThe days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and the weather colder.

Colder weather means animals looking for shelter to protect themselves from the chilly winds, snow, sleet, and rain. Outdoor animals, when lacking proper shelter, can utilize our vehicles to keep warm and safe. Before getting in your car, check all the tire wells and give the hood a tap to scare out any animals that have taken shelter. This will keep them safe from being burned, stuck, or drug away while driving.

You can continue to help stray and feral cats maintain their outdoor home happily and safely by providing a shelter for them. The recommended size is 2’ x 3’ and at least 18” high. This size is great to maintain heat and still allow multiple cats to huddle together for warmth. Other specifications for shelter and providing food can be found here.

So please remember to check your tire wells, and tap the hood of your car before starting up. It takes just a second and can save a life.
This information brought to you by
http://www.alleycat.org/winterweather

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Heartworms? Not my Pet!

It is a common misconception that indoor pets, especially cats, do not need to be placed on heartworm preventative. If you have ever swatted at or been bit by a mosquito in your home, then your pets are at risk of contracting the disease.

Here at VMC we recommend starting puppies and kittens on heartworm preventative starting at 8 weeks, and continuing the preventative every 30 days for the remainder of the pet’s life. Here are some simple ways of remembering to give it:

  • Mark it on your calendar: Some preventatives come with a sticker to place on the date that your pet is due for it.
  • Put a reminder in your phone on the day that your pet is due.
  • Write the date on the individual blister pack of the preventative – this will help in remembering that you gave it or still need to give it.

What products are available for heartworm preventative?
There are oral, topical, and injectable preventatives available. ProHeart6* is the injectable version that is administered in our office every 6 months. The oral preventatives available are Trifexis*, Heartgard, Sentinel, Iverhart, and Triheart. Topical products available are Revolution* and Advantage Multi.  *These products are available in our office.

Each product provides preventatives such as flea, tick, and intestinal parasites. A comparison chart is available here.

The American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommends testing every year to ensure that the heartworm preventative chosen is working. Though preventatives are highly effective, they are not 100% and pets can still become infected. Whenever a dose is missed or is late, the pet is vulnerable to contracting the disease. Pets can also leave themselves unprotected if they spit out the pill or rub off the product while owners aren’t looking. An annual examination and heartworm testing are necessary to renew the prescription and be able to purchase more preventative.

Heartworm disease is very prevalent in our area therefore it is recommended to keep your pet on heartworm preventative monthly even throughout the winter.  There is no treatment for cats so prevention is critical. The treatment for dogs is very expensive and uncomfortable and also requires very strict confinement during the course of the treatment.
Here is a chart on the lifecycle of the heartworm for the dog and the cat.

HWLifeCycle-VET

We are always here to answer any of your questions and ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy. Please do not hesitate to call us with any questions regarding your pet’s care.

For more information on heartworm disease, visit the American Heartworm Associations website at www.heartwormsociety.org

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The Importance of Dental Radiographs

Today’s topic is on Dental Radiographs and the importance of having them done with your pet’s routine cleaning.

 

Full mouth dental radiographs give us a lot of information on the structure and health of each tooth from the crown to the root.  Many times, a tooth can look very healthy to the naked eye but it is with radiographs that we find a diseased root that can cause pain or discomfort to our furbabies.

(Figure 1)

Here is an x-ray where an abscess was found.

(Figure 2)

The eruption of the abscess was found on examination of the mouth.

(Figure 3)

There was also a deep pocket found which indicates a problem.  The tooth needed to be extracted and the pet needed to be placed on oral antibiotics to help get rid of the infection.  If not extracted, the pet would likely be in discomfort, have trouble eating, and require antibiotics +/- extraction in the future.

(Figure 4)

Here is an x-ray where resorptive lesions was found.  The middle tooth is healthy, no abnormalities with it.  Note one root of two missing on the tooth to the right and not seated nicely within the jaw like the middle tooth.  On the left tooth, it isn’t seated nicely either and there is also a chunk missing on the right side of the tooth.

A resorptive lesion simply means that the body has begun to resorb it’s own tooth read more. The cause is unknown, but most cats above the age of 6 will have at least one. These can be quite painful and are normally found best by radiographs but can also be found by probing the tooth in which the cat (even under anesthetic) will be reactive in some fashion. These are important to extract due to the pain they can cause and likelihood of regression if restored.

Dental radiographs are just as important in pet’s health as it is in our health. It is a small price to pay in order to prevent a pet from having any further discomfort and to prevent them from having to go under general anesthesia a second time for a problem undiagnosed during a prophylactic cleaning.

 

 

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Scarlett Update – Home Found!

scarlett2We are proud to announce that Scarlett has found a permanent home.  She now lives on Lake Wylie with a large fenced yard and has several furry friends to play with, including another dog and several cats.  Thank you to everyone that helped her find her forever home including The Animal Adoption League.

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