The Aly Report: April 2021
CARE STL Shelter Newsletter
April is Heartworm Awareness Month!
April is Heartworm Awareness Month, so let’s talk about heartworms! You might have heard of them but did you know they are long parasitic worms that live in the lungs and heart and can affect pets such as dogs, cats, and ferrets? They also live in wild animals such as foxes and coyotes (and even sea lions).. Infected mosquitoes are prime carriers of these parasitic worms, and are transferred when your pet is bit. In dogs, heartworms go through their full life cycles and reproduce in large amounts. Heartworms don’t typically live as long in cats but even just a few worms can leave permanent damage or prove fatal.
Blood tests, x-rays, and ultrasounds provided by your veterinarians are used to detect heartworms in pets, and here at CARE, we give heartworm preventatives to every dog and cat that we take in, whether they have heartworm or not. Some dogs like Alford, who came to us in February, came in with pretty serious symptoms of heartworm. He had been alone for years but was finally found living in an abandoned building with untreated heartworm. You might have met him (and heard him). He quickly began treatment for his swollen belly and constant serious cough, which he still takes now. Alford is currently in a foster home recovering and taking it slow.
Other symptoms of heartworms in dogs include: tiring easily after activity, sickly appearance, and trouble breathing. If left untreated, dogs run the risk of developing caval syndrome (blood is blocked by a large mass of worms) and surgery to remove the mass is the only way to prevent their heartworms from being fatal. In cats, symptoms are much less to none at all so it can be harder to detect but could include vomiting, decreased appetite and energy, and weight loss. Not to worry, though, steps can be taken to keep your pets safe and hearts filled only with love.
Luckily, there are a few different ways to prevent and treat heartworms in your pets! Preventatives work best for cats, as heartworm treatment for dogs does not work as well on them. For dogs, prevention and treatment is possible, and your dogs should be tested annually. Heartworm prevention can be given to pets in the form of chewables or topical ointment once a month. Some preventatives even kill other parasitic worms like round- and hookworms, which is extremely convenient. As the weather gets warmer and mosquitoes come out to play, it's important to speak to your vet for a prescription and give your pets their monthly preventatives! Our pets love us with all their hearts, so we should make sure we take care of theirs!
Submitted by Kennedy Hemme, CARE STL Animal Caregiver
The Aly Report Archive: February 2021
A Dentastix a day keeps the doggy dentist away!
Or does it? February is National Pet Dental Health Month and according to the American Veterinary Dental Association, about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats get an oral disease by the age of three. While this statistic can seem alarming, prevention is key in protecting your pet’s dental health and there are many ways to go about this! Their oral health, like ours, can have a huge effect on their overall health. According to Kerrie Davis, Clinic Manager and Veterinary Technician here at CARE STL, “dental disease can cause other more serious health issues when it goes untreated. Broken teeth cause pain and can lead to issues with eating and even behavioral issues. Animals can act out or retreat when they are in pain. Small dogs tend to have more frequent and severe dental issues.” Recognizing the signs of bad oral health can help you treat and prevent more health issues. Signs include bad breath, lethargy, red gums, extra salivation and loss of appetite. You’re one step closer to keeping your dog happy and healthy!
So what’s the next step? You might be wondering. Knowing how you can care for their teeth! Since being domesticated, most cats and dogs no longer hunt and eat prey that would “floss” their teeth and gums as they ate. Luckily, most pet foods today are aimed at helping with oral health. Some studies show that soft diets can increase the frequency of periodontal disease (the most common oral disease in pets), and that harder foods require more chewing which is better for cats and dogs. Choosing the right food for your pet is a good step in prevention. Did you know you could be brushing your pet’s teeth? Davis mentions that as “only effective if an owner does it every day” but for dedicated pet owner’s there are options for those who want to go the route. Many animals will not tolerate that daily so what else can you do? You’re probably looking at that bag of dental treats on your shelf and luckily dental treats are an effective way to slow but not fully prevent oral disease. Many toys, too, are helpful with debris on teeth but should be monitored during play, Davis mentions. A product Davis recommends that she’s worked with before is called Pro-Biora, a probiotic you sprinkle on top of their food to improve hygiene and freshen breath! Many vets mention annual check-ups and cleanings (just like the ones we should be going to) as a great way to help with their oral care and save on future vet costs if oral issues arose. Small dogs might require more frequent check-ups.
At the beginning of January this year, CARE STL received a quiet, fluffy black cat named Trowa, who we soon realized was lethargic and salivating a large amount. Instantly recognized as an oral issue, Trowa was examined and found to have stomatitis. This is a chronic condition with a mostly unknown cause-but many theorize it has to do with the cats immune system not functioning properly, according to Davis. While there is no cure for this specific issue, regular dental can help prevent the disease from progressing if diagnosed early on. Trowa is still being treated but is currently comfy in a foster’s home.
It is important to take care of not only your oral health, but also your pet’s! If you love getting kisses and seeing their zoomies, make sure to give their teeth and gums a little extra TLC!
Submitted by Kennedy Hemme, CARE STL Animal Caregiver