Thanks for sniffing us out online for this month’s downloadable health tip.
Fleas, ticks and heartworms – oh, my! This month’s Health Tip names some of the peskiest pests that creep and crawl on our pets. Dr. Kim Smyth takes a peek at parasites and reveals the good, bad and ugly when it comes to bugs. Read on to learn which worms can make your pet sick, what to do about it and how to prevent infections in the first place.
Did you know?
- One “worm” you may have heard of doesn’t actually wriggle – in fact, it isn’t even a worm! Dr. Nina Mantione digs up the dirt on ringworm and tells you what you need to know to avoid it on our Vets for Pets blog.
- A few tiny mites can cause a mighty problem for four-legged friends! Ear mites are an extremely common (and contagious!) condition. Dr. Jules Benson writes his prescription for offing the offending organisms in a post on our Vets for Pets blog.
One of the biggest risks ticks pose to our pets is their ability to transmit Lyme disease. The organism that causes the condition is a spiral shaped bacteria named Borrellia burgdorferi. Ticks pick this organism up and are able to transfer it to other hosts (aka you or your pet). While humans tend to get a characteristic “bull’s-eye” skin lesion around the tick bite, most pets do not.
Generally, Lyme disease tends to affect dogs more than cats. Only about 5-10% of infected dogs show clinical signs of illness, and usually not for weeks or months after infection. In dogs who do show symptoms, shifting-leg lameness, fever, inappetence and enlarged lymph nodes are the most common. In some rare cases, Lyme disease can cause kidney damage, which may show up as a sudden onset of vomiting, weight loss, lethargy and increased water intake.
If a dog tests positive for Lyme disease, he should be treated, right? Well, not exactly. Lyme disease in veterinary medicine is a complicated matter – there are many different opinions regarding the best course of action. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment for Lyme, and are usually always given to treat dogs who show obvious signs of infection. When it comes to symptom-free dogs who test positive for Lyme, what to do is not just a black and white issue. If this is the case with your pet, your veterinarian may have a discussion with you about further testing, and will design a treatment plan according to what he or she thinks is best for your individual pet.
The good news is that monthly flea and tick preventives are safe, effective and inexpensive – so all of this is easily avoided in the first place!
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Remember to bookmark this site and check back for next month’s tip, or ask for a copy at your vet’s office! Here’s to a month of good health for you and your furry friends.