Dogs and cats get heartworm disease when an infected mosquito bites them. The heartworm then gets inside of their body and can reproduce, which only worsens your pet’s symptoms. The illness is much more prevalent in dogs, but cat owners also need to know about the symptoms so they can prevent and treat it if necessary. Puppies can start on preventive heartworm medication at eight weeks old without any type of testing. At six months of age, a puppy needs to test negative for heartworm infection before a veterinarian can prescribe preventive medication.
Fleas are wingless insects with a lifespan ranging from 14 days to one year. Although tiny in size and not always visible to the human eyes, fleas can jump as high as two feet. They can’t survive and reproduce without a living host. The following symptoms are common indications of fleas or ticks in dogs and cats:
- Droppings that resemble grains of sand or tiny white eggs on the fur
- Excessive biting, licking, or scratching
- Fur loss
- Gums appear pale
- Scabs and hot spots
You’re most likely to spot these blood-sucking parasites on your pet’s head, neck, ears, and feet. Ticks live in tall brush and grass, making it easy to jump onto your pet’s body. Unfortunately, indoors pets aren’t immune from ticks since they can get into the house from another pet or a person.
Dogs and cats typically don’t show obvious signs of a tick bite. To make matters worse, you often can’t see them until they have become engorged with your pet’s blood. In the meantime, they can transmit diseases such as tick paralysis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If your pet goes outside, we recommend running your hands the entire length of his body every night. Be sure to check the underside for ticks as well.
Preventing Fleas and Ticks
You can reduce the flea and tick population in your yard by mowing the lawn frequently and picking up rake clippings and other yard waste. Using a flea comb and doing a tick check daily is the best way to ensure that these parasites don’t have a chance to do serious damage. We also recommend washing your pet’s bedding and toys in hot water weekly as well as providing your pet with year-round protection. Adult ticks like warmer weather May through November and Nyphm ticks (babies) are a year-round issue. They too will spread disease and they are microscopic so you will not feel or see them.
Dr. Ogi or Dr. Wagner is happy to recommend the most effective flea and tick prevention products based on your pet’s species and lifestyle. Keep in mind that we also offer a range of flea and tick products in our online store.
Preventing Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats
Proper brushing and regular dental exams are one key to your pet’s oral health. The other is providing her with nutritious, species-appropriate food. The best pet foods have little or no added fillers. Additionally, they contain enough meat and protein to provide energy. Dental chews for dogs can help reduce plaque and tartar, but you should not give one to your dog in place of regular brushing. The toothbrush and toothpaste you buy should also be species-specific.
To brush your pet’s teeth, have him sit in a relaxed position and then follow these steps:
- Massage the cheeks for several seconds
- Introduce toothpaste by placing a small dab on your finger or a treat and allow her to lick it off
- Place a small amount of toothpaste on a toothbrush and place in your pet’s mouth without brushing
- When your pet appears comfortable with the process, brush the surface of one tooth at a time
- Retract the lips so you can reach the back molars
- Concentrate on the upper and outer molars if your pet only tolerates brushing for a short time
- Gradually increase total brushing time from a few seconds to two minutes
When to Schedule an Immediate Appointment
Please contact Kewaskum Veterinary Clinic right away if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Bleeding, red, or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Drooling more than usual
- Hesitancy to eat
- Brown or yellow deposits on the teeth
Dr. Ogi or Dr. Wagner checks the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums at every preventive care appointment. He will recommend scheduling a follow-up appointment for any noted concerns.
HOURS BY APPOINTMENT:
1040 FOND DU LAC AVENUE
KEWASKUM, WI 53040-9583
Phone: (262) 626-2380
For after hour emergencies, Monday thru Friday, please call our office at 262-626-2380. On Friday (after hours) through Sunday, please call Lakeshore Veterinary Specialists, which is located in Port Washington at 262-268-7800.