Halloween Dog Bite Prevention Tips

Information provided by Doggone Safe

By Jennifer Shryock

Halloween is “fright night” for humans not dogs.  Screaming, running, spooky children in masks make many dogs uncomfortable, nervous and frightened.

Halloween costumes are fun and are meant to disguise our normal appearance.  Dogs do not understand this change in appearance and may become frightened.  Costumes that change the way a person walks, stands, or their general appearance may cause a dog to react differently than usual even with those they know.kids-wearing-halloween-costumes

Keep in mind that children on Halloween night are excited and doing their best to be scary.  This is not a fair or safe situation to put even the best of dogs in.  Even the normally terrific tolerant family dog can find this night hard to handle.

Along with costumes being frightening to a dog, there are some that may become interesting too. Swords, tails and dangling things may be fun for an excited dog to chase and toddlers certainly won’t appreciate that.

Every child and every costume is a new opportunity for different reactions from the same dog.

I recommend setting up your dog with their own private Halloween bash in a safe quiet spot with a yummy treat of their own. Here are some tips to help make this safe haven most comfortable.

kongpuppy

  • Secure your dog behind a closed door or in a crate in a room away from the front door or the party if children are meeting at your house.
  • Give him a stuffed Kong or other long lasting chew.
  • Play music or leave a TV or radio playing in the dog’s room to help mask the sounds of the activity at the front door. Noise that is consistent is best.
  • Close drapes so that the dog does not see people coming and going through the window.  This will only frustrate him and allow him to practice barking and carrying on at the window.
  • If you have a dog that barks at the sound of the doorbell, disconnect it or watch for trick-or-treaters so that they do not have to ring or knock.
  • Puppies and dogs that like to chase can get overly excited by costumes with dangly bits or streaming material. Supervise very carefully if you have a dog that may try to play with your children’s costumes while they are wearing them. Teach kids to Be a Tree and stand still if the dog does start nipping at their costume since the more they move, the more exited the dog will get.
  • Keep your dogs (and cats) indoors around Halloween time. Pets have been stolen, injured or poisoned as part of Halloween pranks or other rituals.
  • Chocolate is toxic to dogs.  Put candy in a safe spot.

Kids and Parents:

  • Avoid houses if you can hear a dog barking behind the door, you can see a dog behind a screen door or you see a dog tied up in the yard or barking behind a fence.
  • Never approach any dog, even if you know him. He may not recognize you in your costume.
  • If an owner opens the door and there is a dog there, just stay still and wait for the dog owner to put the dog away.  You can tell them you do not want to come near the dog.  Do not move toward the person and dog.  Wait for them to come to you to give you your candy.  Wait for them to close the door before you turn and leave.
  • If a dog escapes just stand still and Be a Tree (hands folded in front, watching your feet).  He will just sniff you and then move on.  Wait for the owner to come and get the dog before you turn away.
  • If you meet a loose dog, Be a Tree and wait until it goes away.
  • It is best to ignore other people’s dogs on Halloween if you meet them out walking. The dog may be worried about all the strange creatures that are out and about.  Even if you know the dog, he may not recognize you in your costume.

kids-halloween-costumes

Doggone Safe and the Albert North Veterinary Clinic wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

For more information on kid and dog safety, check out www.familypaws.com

For a printable version of the Halloween safety tips visit our website

– click on the image to open a printable pdf version.

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Biggest Losers…& the Winners are…

Monday October 7th marked the end of our Biggest Loser Challenge.  We are happy to report that EVERY contestant lost weight during the contest period!  Congratulations and well done!  Today, Wednesday October 9th is Pet Obesity Awareness Day – we thought it extremely appropriate to announce our winners in conjunction with this important day.

We asked each owner to provide us with some feedback on their experience.  The questions asked were:

1) Did your pet like the diet food?

2) What did you like and/or dislike about the diet?

3) What changes did you notice in your pet? (activity level, exercise tolerance, etc)

4) Would you recommend this diet to a friend?

5) Do you plan to continue with the diet?

6) Once your pet has reached their ideal weight, what will you do to maintain it?

Here are the answers and starting photo(s) from each of our contestants:

Poko (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.6%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes she liked the food.  We soaked the kibbles at first to make her feel fuller.

2) Her appetite stayed the same (the diet didn’t bring it down).

3) We noticed that she is a little less tired after walks.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) Once she has reached her weight goal we will wait for the vet’s recommendation for what food to go with next.

Janu (on r/d) – starting BFI 46.2%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes she liked the food

2)

3) I noticed that Janu is more energetic.

4)

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) I will discuss with the vet/technologist the plan to maintain her weight once we reach our goal.

Daphne (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.4%

Daphne above1) She loved the food!

2) I am amazed at the results of the diet.

3) I noticed her energy level is higher and that there is no longer laboured breathing after short periods of exercise.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend.   Daphne belly

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) I plan to continue to feed Metabolic.

Piper (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.8%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Piper liked the food, it took a little longer to eat due to the kibble size.

2) I didn’t see the results that I expected, but am happy he lost some.

3) His breathing is better, not so laboured after doing the stairs.  He is more energetic and active, has a higher exercise tolerance and looks forward to his walks.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) I plan to keep him on Metabolic.

JoJo (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 55.0%

JoJo1) Yes Jojo likes the food, she is eating it well and really likes the canned.

2) I saw results, noticed more loose skin and she doesn’t have her fat pad on her neck anymore.

3) She is more active and lively and has a better appetite (wants to eat).

4) Yes, I would recommend this food to a friend.  Jojo Brown Side

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) I plan to stay with Metabolic.

Rusty (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 53.9%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes, Rusty liked the food.

2) The food is easy to use, just use the measuring cup and he can have the Metabolic treats.  For the price of the food I believe you get your money’s worth and it’s cost effective.

3) Rusty’s collar is looser, he can jump on the bed easier and seems more active.  His appetite seems to be the same.

4) Yes, I would recommend this food to a friend.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes, I plan to continue the diet.

6) He is doing well on the food and seems to like it, so I will probably stay with Metabolic for maintenance.

Gunner (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 54.6%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes

2) Everything was good.

3) He has way more energy, his fur looks shinier and healthy, his teeth even look whiter!  He is also playing with our new lab.

4) Yes, I would recommend this diet to a friend.

5) Yes  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6) I plan to keep him on Metabolic – he is doing well on it.

Jimmy (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 53.9%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Yes

2) The food was easy to measure and I saw the results.

3) Jimmy is no longer limping.  Previously when he had been laying down, upon rising he would limp, he no longer does.  His eyes don’t tear up as much and he has more energy.

4) Yes OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes

6) Will discuss with the vet/tech what is the best diet option when the time comes.

Moka (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 57.4%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) It took a few days to get use to, but Moka likes it now.

2) I liked that I saw the results

3) Moka is like a puppy again, she is brighter and wants to play.  Before I had to pull her to go for a short walk now she pulls me on 45 min walks!

4) Sure would! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes

6) Plan to discuss it with the vet at that time.

Playdoh (on Metabolic & r/d) – starting BFI 35%

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1) Playdoh eats anything, so the food wasn’t a problem.

2) It is easy and I didn’t worry as much when he would sneak some of the other cat’s food or steal something from the kids.

3) He doesn’t have his handful of fat pad anymore! He is easier to pick up.

4) Yes  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Yes

6) Will keep him on a combination of Metabolic and r/d, especially since he is such a food thief, it will help to keep him nice and trim.

Lucky (on Metabolic) – starting BFI 50.0%

lucky1) Yes, Lucky was a kibble only cat, he would not eat wet food but he really liked the Metabolic wet.

2) Dislike the price.

3) Lucky’s coat looks healthier and he seems happier.  He also is moving around better

4) Yes

5) Yes

6) Will discuss when he gets there – I do plan to stay with a veterinary formula.

Now, we are sure you are wondering;

How did they all do??

Well here it is, each of our contestants.  We have listed their starting BFI, the amount of weight lost over the course of the Challenge, where their BFI ended up (the top end of ideal for both cats and dogs is 25% so this is the target BFI for all Contestants) and the total fat percentage lost.  Congratulations to ALL of our contestants for losing weight!  Every single one is well on their way to a healthy BFI and a longer, fuller life.

Contestants Starting BFI (%) Weight lost kg/lbs Ending BFI (%) Total Loss (%)
Jojo (K9) 55.0 0.5/1.1 48.1 6.9
Poko (K9) 54.6 1.3/2.9 48.0 6.6
Janu (K9) 46.2 1.2/2.6 40.6 5.6
Piper (K9) 57.8 0.9/2 53.7 4.1
Gunner (K9) 54.6 2.5/5.5 48.5 6.1
Daphne (K9) 54.4 1.9/4.1 44.4 10.0
Moka (K9) 57.4 11.8/26 45.9 11.5
Rusty (K9) 43.9 2.8/6.2 37.7 6.2
Jimmy (K9) 53.9 1.6/3.5 44.5 9.4
Lucky (Fe) 50.0 2.27/5 33.3 16.7
Playdoh (Fe) 35.0 0.5/1.1 29.2 5.8

Our winners are:

for the dogs –  Moka with a total loss of 11.5%

for the cats – Lucky with a total loss of 16.7%.

We would like to thank Hill’s for sponsoring our Biggest Loser Challenge.  Each contestant received a canvas bag with a small bag of food, a bag of treats and two cans, plus a $10 off coupon of the Metabolic diet at the midway point of the challenge, courtesy of Hill’s.

Our winners will be receiving:

  • A bag of food (owner’s choice of type courtesy of Hill’s)
  • A toy (pet’s choice provided by us)
  • A night at the movies (for the owner provided by us)

Our second place winners will receive:

  • A medium bag of food (owner’s choice of type courtesy of Hill’s)
  • A bag of treats (Metabolic – courtesy of Hill’s)

And because all our contestants are winners we are providing all our other contestants with a prize as well:

  • A toy (pet’s choice)

Here are all the contestants before photos and their current photo (side by side with the before for comparison):

For more information on Obesity, Weight and Management and the Hill’s Metabolic Diet:

Obesity Quiz

Calorie Contents in Treats

More Calorie Contents in Dog Treats

Hill’s Metabolic

Body Fat Index

Obesity

Diet is Only Half the Battle

Obesity

The statistics say that 30 to 50 percent of our pets are overweight, with 35% being obese – and most of us owners aren’t even aware of it!  That’s a very high incidence.   Part of preventative health care includes maintaining a healthy weight.

Take an Obesity Quiz to see how much you know about obesity, the risks and factors involved.

There is sound and irrefutable evidence that obesity has devastating effects both on longevity and on the quality of life.  As an example; in humans, mortality at any age is higher in people who overweight. This is primarily due to increased heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and digestive diseases.

scale

Increased incidence of disease in the obese pet is equally alarming:

  • Heart and Circulatory disease increase up to 75 percent
  • Reproductive disorders increase up to 65 percent
  • Musculoskeletal diseases increase up to 54 percent (eg. ruptured ligaments, arthritis)
  • Cancers up to 50 percent increase.
  • Skin conditions up to 40 percent increase.

These are very worrying statistics.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is medically defined as a 15 percent or greater increase in optimal body weight – so what’s the ideal weight?  Most pets will reach their ideal weight within one year of maturity.  The ideal weight for your particular dog can be found from charts.  With few exceptions, the ideal weight for the average healthy adult domestic cat is between 3.5 and 4.5 kilograms (8 to10 lbs.)

A fairly simple, although subjective, test for the degree of obesity is to make a judgment of the amount of adipose (fatty) tissue overlying the rib cage and along the abdomen.  Here’s how to do it.  The animal is too thin if the ribs are easily seen.  The animal is normal if the ribs are easily felt with light pressure, without any appreciable layer of fat.  The animal is obese if the ribs cannot easily be felt.  We should also appreciate that most breeds should have an hourglass or waist line when viewed from above.  Other signs of obesity include a pendulous or protruding abdomen, enlarged fatty areas over the hips and around the tail, and a waddling sluggish walk or gait.

Our concern with obesity isn’t merely for cosmetic vanity, but is based on sound evidence as to its devastating effects on longevity and quality of life.

What Causes Obesity?

In a word … calories!  Obesity is nearly always caused by one simple fact – overeating.  Too much food and too little exercise.

Metabolic, “hormonal” or “glandular” problems are extremely rare and can often be corrected by medical means in addition to diet control.  There is an old adage “fatness runs in the family” – the truth is that overeating runs in the family, and nobody runs!

We are well aware that some breeds are more prone to obesity than others, for example, Beagles, Dachshunds, Labs and Goldens tend to lay it on with ease, but this should prompt us to be even more vigilant with these particular breeds of pet.  The true tragedy is that the obese pet is the helpless victim of a compulsive owner.  A pet simply cannot get fat on its own. Many people use food as a reward. A treat is offered and the animal is rewarded for eating it by being petted or some such thing. The animal then associates food with affection and constantly seeks more of each. The owner then continues to feed the animal in the belief that the actual feeding pleases the animal and the cycle continues.

Let’s examine what we can do about it.

fatcat

Controlling the Problem

Admitting to yourself that your pet is obese is the first step.  Accepting responsibility for the condition is the next.  Then, and only then will you be in the frame of mind to succeed in your goal of weight loss.

Every program of weight reduction should be tailored to the individual pet after consultation with your own veterinarian.  It is also absolutely vital that you solicit and acquire absolute cooperation from every member of the family – lack of total dedication and commitment will only bring frustration and disappointment.

The following guidelines will be something like your own veterinarian might recommend.

  • Eliminate ALL extra sources of food, table scraps, treats, snacks from neighbors etc. In fact, throw out all pet treats! (Or donate them to the animal shelter.)
  • Consider the use of specially formulated prescription reducing diets.  These diets are high in fibre and lower in calories, but otherwise completely balanced so are very filling.  There is also Metabolic to help increase a pet’s metabolism.
  • Make sure the diet you are using is top quality and suited to your pet and then consider reducing total consumption by up to 20 percent.  Feed the remaining 80 percent in three or four divided meals during the day. This method works on some dogs and tends to eliminate begging.
  • Make sure ample fresh water is available at all times.
  • Weigh your pet weekly – this will keep you motivated to keep thinking positively.
  • Do multiple short periods of exercise instead of one long period.  Once your pet’s exercise tolerance increases, you can decrease the frequency as you increase the length of exercise time per outing.

To help you realize the ease with which obesity can creep up on us, consider this:

A dog or cat that consumes only one percent more calories than needed, on a daily basis, will be 25 percent overweight by middle age.

If your pet is overweight or you aren’t sure contact us, so together we can start to treat this disease right away.

For more information on weight and exercise ideas for your pet(s) see our additional blog posts:

Body Fat Index – what does that mean?

Diet is Only Half the Battle

Ready… Aim… Brush!

In keeping with the theme for Animal Health Week, we bring you information on an area of preventative care that can do so much for your pet’s overall health:

Dental decay can cause bad breath and a host of other health problems for your pet. Here’s how to help everyone breathe a little easier.

dental kitten

Think for a moment what it would be like not to brush your teeth.  Ever.  Meal after meal, day after day.  Yes, there would be that initial urge to shave your tongue, but as the days wore on, the stale taste in your mouth would become more than just a nuisance.  As the condition of your teeth grew worse, you probably wouldn’t feel quite right about yourself.  You might not be able to eat all the foods you used to; hot or cold liquids could be a problem too.  You might even become a bit irritable.  Inevitably, even if they didn’t say it out loud, friends and loved ones would be thinking:  “Dog breath.”

Well, unless you are a dog, you’ll probably never have these problems.  But it happens all the time to pets.   Dental disease affects approximately 85% of pets over the age of one.  According to veterinary researches, if your dog is older than age five, there is an excellent chance (nearly nine in 10) that gum disease already has claimed some of the bone surrounding his tooth roots.  If your dog is older, and the bacteria from oral infection find their way into the blood, it could lead to complications involving the heart, liver, or kidneys.

Cats don’t get off any easier.  When they have dental problems, it’s not unusual for them to refuse to eat or drink.  And you know cats; they can keep this up until they become seriously ill.  There’s simply no way around it:  If you want a healthy pet, you can’t ignore his teeth.

Signs/symptoms your pet is suffering from periodontal disease:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Red & Bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Tartar
  • Loose teeth

324154_10150774355737501_1237142733_o

Understanding Calculus

Dental problems in pets begin the same way they do for you–with plaque.  Plaque is a bacterial film that forms continually in the mouth and leads to periodontal disease, a progressive condition that marks the beginning of the end for gums and teeth.

Plaque begins with the accumulation of food particles in the narrow space where each tooth meets the gum.  As saliva and bacteria in the mouth mix with the food particles, the bacteria multiply and then die, leaving waste products in the process.  But hang on, it gets even worse.

The body responds by sending the bacteria-fighting cells to the gums, which causes them to become inflamed and to ooze chalk-like minerals.  These minerals calcify and harden into what is known as calculus.  Meanwhile, the narrow channel between tooth and gum is no longer quite so narrow because plaque and calculus (which together are known as tartar) continue to accumulate until a pocket of pus forms at the gumline.

As this cycle repeats itself, the tooth further separates from the now receding gum, creating an even larger pocket of debris.  Eventually, this uninviting miasma will become so toxic that the tissue around the tooth dies; the ligament that attaches tooth to bone separates; and the thin layer of bone that supports the tooth erodes.  Soon, the tooth will loosen and fall out.

It’s enough to make you haul off and brush your dog’s teeth right now, isn’t it?  Well, that’s precisely what all pets need.

“The thing to do for your pet is what anyone would do for himself,” says Dr. Charles Williams, a board-certified veterinary dentist in Fairfax, VA.  “You want to practice preventive health care rather than wait for an irreversible disease process.”

Dr. Williams also cautions against reacting too slowly to pet dental problems.  “Take bad breath, for instance,” he says.  “This is a sign of poor oral health, but the trouble is, if you wait until you see this sign, you already are at such an advanced state of degeneration that, for the most part, things can be just too far gone to really do a good job.

“In the past, we typically used the amount of calculus visible on the teeth as a measure of oral health.  You know: ‘do they look bad?  Do they have a heavy tartar on them?’  If the answer is no, we used to say ‘Gee, there’s no need to do anything for this dog’s mouth.’  That’s a mistake.”

Veterinarians aren’t making that mistake anymore, and there’s no reason for you to make it either.  If you take dental care seriously when your pet is young, you can prevent these problems and allow the animal to keep a full set of teeth throughout his life.  But even if the animal isn’t so young, correcting dental problems to whatever degree possible will give you a happier, healthier pet.

 Getting Good “prohy”

“I wasn’t aware that anything could be wrong with an animal’s teeth,” says Ellie Gilanshah, whose 8-year-old Maltese, Bo, receives regular dental care at Dr. William’s Blue Cross Animal Clinic.  “He’s so much better now; his teeth are clean, and he doesn’t have bad breath.  I wish I’d known about checkups and brushing when I got Bo.  Now I tell my friends about it, too.”

“Good prophy for pets should be very much like the procedures you have performed when you go to the dentist,” says Dr. B. Jean Hawkins, [past president of the American Veterinary Dental Society]: Radiographs should be taken if they’re warranted, and the gingiva should be examined under the gum line to see if calculus is there, and if the teeth are loose.  Root planning should be scaled, and polished.”

Sub gingival cleaning, or removal of debris and calculus below the gum line, is one of the most important aspects of the professional dental work-up.  As this is done, the technologist will actually plane or scrape the root of the tooth until it is clean and smooth.  Polishing not only cleans each tooth’s enamel, it makes it more difficult for plaque and calculus to reattach.  You can even request a fluoride treatment.  Your pet will have to be put under general anesthesia for these procedures.

The next step is to pick up where your veterinarian leaves off.  That means brushing all 42 of your dog’s teeth.  You lucky cat owners have only 30 teeth to brush.

“Dental care in the clinic is only as good as the follow-up care in the home,” says Dr. Peter Emily, the director of animal dentistry at Colorado State University’s College of veterinary medicine.  “If an animal has periodontal disease you can clean it up.  But if the same circumstances that led to it being there in the first place continue, he’ll end up right where he was; it’s just a matter of time.  You have to intercept this.  The home care routine will change things.”

What exactly is the home care routine?  Feeding high-quality “hard” or dry rations (and no table scraps or sweets), providing hard rubber chew toys to exercise the periodontal ligaments, and most important, cleaning the mouth and teeth by brushing.  (See the box on below)

“No matter how much or how little home care there is, there needs to be a relationship with the professional,” says dental specialist Dr. Williams.  “Home care can reduce the amount of professional care necessary, but it takes both to ensure good long-term oral health in a pet.  One of the rewarding things about specializing in dentistry as opposed to say, cancer therapy, is that we almost always help our patients.”

kitten-with-brush

Put my finger where?  A Guide to Brushing your Pet’s Teeth

Two considerations could get in the way of brushing your pet’s teeth.  Number one you don’t want to do it, and number two, your pet doesn’t want it done.  But don’t worry–you brush your own teeth, don’t you?  It’s part of your routine, and that’s how you should approach the challenge with your pet.  First of all, understand that if brushing is to be of any value to your pet, it must be done at least every other day.  Plaque mineralizes into calculus in 24 to 48 hours.

Second, try to create a habitual routine by choosing an appropriate time and place, and sticking with it–like in a comfortable chair, after you’ve both had supper, and before the evening walk, or just before a pleasant daily activity, like playing ball.  And third do your best to make brushing fun; use lots of praise.

When you come to the moment of truth–putting your fingers inside your pet’s mouth–it probably will be for just a few moments, but you can build from there.  Start slowly, merely touching the muzzle and talking to your pet to help him relax.  Your veterinarian can show you the best way to open the mouth, usually by grasping the lips toward the rear of the muzzle.  Begin handling the mouth gently, and eventually stroke the animal gums and teeth.  If you accomplish this much in the first session, you’re doing fine.

To help cats tolerate having a brush in their mouths, Dr. Peter Emily of ColoradoState suggests using the water from a water-packed can of tuna.  Just strain it, put a little on a toothbrush, and let a hungry kitten chew on it.  Later, you can switch to using a pet toothpaste.

For dogs, Dr. Emily says to “use a little warm water and garlic salt.  This taste is very palatable to a dog.  And if you take a puppy, especially a hungry puppy, and let him chew a while on a toothbrush that’s been dipped in the water and garlic salt, you’ll have the psychological lock established right away that “this tastes good… it’s OK.’ From that point on, you can start brushing.”  When you do start brushing your dog’s teeth, remember that the accumulations of plaque and calculus are greatest on the sides of a dog’s teeth facing the cheek, because this is where the salivary gland duct openings are.

When gathering the tools you’ll need, don’t reach for toothbrush or toothpaste designed for human mouths; the brush will be too large and too firm, and the paste can cause your pet stomach problems.  Your veterinarian will have the right materials to use and can show you how to use them the right way.  What’s most important is that you and your veterinarian work to establish–and then stick with — a routine.

The two biggest points to remember are:

1) If your pet’s mouth is sore or you suspect there may be a problem, DO NOT start a home dental routine. See your veterinarian first. Your pet may need professional care.

2) Training your pet to accept dental care makes all the difference.

If you are having troubles please call us 306-545-7211. No animal will naturally want you to stick things in their mouth. We have lots of tips and tricks that may help.

For more dental information see our post: The Importance of Dental Care

Internal Parasites & Your Pet

worms

Most people don’t routinely consider deworming their adult pet simply because they don’t see worms in the stool. Studies show that up to 33% of dogs may be infected with intestinal worms. While low numbers of worms may not cause any detectable problems in healthy adult dogs puppies, sick pets and older animals may be at risk of significant disease as a result of parasites. More importantly many intestinal parasites seen in our pets can cause health problems in people. Larvae from canine roundworms and hookworms can migrate under the skin of a person into tissues in the body. If these larvae migrate to the eye serious problems – even blindness, can result.  The people most at risk for developing problems are young children, people who are chronically ill and the elderly.  While the number of people who develop problems is low the risk of exposure is quite high. Blood tests done on children in Connecticut showed that up to 27% of them had been exposed to canine roundworm larvae.

Dogs can become infected with worms in a number of ways. Puppies are often infected by larvae that pass into their mothers’ milk. Adult dogs can be infected through contact with the feces of infected dogs.  Many worm eggs and larvae are quite tough and can survive in the soil for months or years.  It is possible for your dog to contract worms by walking through the park, in your back yard, at a kennel or obedience classes. Cats’ can contract worms in similar ways. In addition there are worms cats contract when they eat mice.  Pets may also be infected with worms by eating raw meat or fish.

The best treatment for parasites is prevention. We recommend routine deworming to decrease your pet’s parasite load.  It is difficult to test for the presence of parasites in all but the most heavily infested pets.  This is because adult worms in the intestinal tract will only shed eggs intermittently.  The standard test for intestinal parasites is a fecal exam, which checks for the presence of parasite eggs in the stool. It is quite possible for an animal to have a negative fecal test and still have worms.  Recommendations for worming your pet vary with their age, the risk of exposure and the people in their home.  As a general guideline we have the following deworming recommendations:

Puppies: should be dewormed every 2 weeks until they are 3 months of age starting at 4-6 weeks of age.

Adult dogs in Private homes: Annual deworming

Adult dogs in kennels/dogs who travel to shows: twice yearly or more depending on individual situation.

Pregnant Dogs: deworm before birth or after pups arrive.

Kittens: Should be dewormed every 2 weeks until 3 months of age starting at 6 weeks of age.

Outdoor cats: Once or twice yearly depending on hunting habits

Queens: deworm while pregnant and while nursing.

Indoor only cats: after being dewormed as kittens are not likely to require further deworming, unless being fed raw meat.