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Top Toxic People Foods for Animals

With the holidays here, festive celebrations with food and drinks are in the air. While you are enjoying friends, family and good food, please keep in mind that certain foods are highly toxic to animals.

ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center experts have put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Here is the list:

  • Alcohol - Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
  • Avocado - Avocado is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants including sheep and goats. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds. Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck.
  • Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine - These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
  • Citrus - The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset.
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil - When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.
  • Grapes and Raisins - Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.
  • Macadamia Nuts - Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
  • Milk and Dairy - Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
  • Nuts - Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
  • Onions, Garlic, Chives - These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.
  • Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones - Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
  • Salt and Salty Snack Foods - Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets. 
  • Xylitol - Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
  • Yeast Dough - Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life-threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Can I Travel with my Emotional Support Dog on a Plane?

The holidays are here. Road and plane travel increases significantly during the holidays. The holidays also increase people’s stress levels. Be prepared to see a little of furry friends on the road and in the air.

The presence of a dog is critical to some people with disabilities just to function daily. The emotional support provided by their pet allows them to deal with challenges. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs).

Here is some valuable information about traveling with emotional support dogs:

Airline Travel

“Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability; or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support. Documentation may be required of passengers needing to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal” explains U.S. Department of Transportation.

Owners must have written proof from a licensed physician or mental health professional to qualify for this benefit.

Airline Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Transportation further explains the guidelines that airlines use to determine whether an animal is a service animal:

  • The credible verbal assurances of an individual with a disability using the animal;
  • Looking for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags;
  • Requiring documentation for psychiatric support animals and emotional support animals; and
  • Observing the behavior of animals.
  • Emotional Support and Psychiatric Service Animals - Airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advanced notice for service animals that are emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals.

Housing

The Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 helps emotional support animal owners qualify for pet-free housing at no extra charge. No other entities such as motels, libraries, theaters or public areas must abide by these laws. In these areas, these pets are considered pets and have no additional rights.

Emotional Support Dog

An emotional support dog is a pet that provides comfort and relief to those with disabilities. They provide security and love which relieves at least one symptom of their owner’s disability. These animals are often used to help those with anxiety, mental or emotional conditions.

These animals are prescribed to owners who need emotional support and stability. These dogs do not perform tasks for their owners, but simply improve their quality of life through emotional connection and support. Since the dogs are not required to perform tasks, there is no specific training needed.

Vs Service Dogs

A service dog is categorized as medical equipment for their owners. They are trained specifically to perform certain tasks their owners cannot complete on their own. Some examples are seeing eye dogs that help their owners cross the street or dogs that help owners do chores around the house. Service dogs are permitted to go places most pets cannot go because their owners need their help.

Qualifications for Getting an Emotional Support Dog

You must legally qualify to do so. A psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist must write a prescription letter in the proper format. The letter must state the name of the patient, that they are under the care of the practitioner and the type of disability that exists. In addition, the letter must state how this disability negatively affects at least one activity in life. The practitioner must also clearly state they are prescribing an ESA as an essential part of mental health treatment. In order to be legal, this letter must be written on the practitioner’s letterhead and dated. The license number of the professional and the state in which it was issued is also required.

Disabilities that support getting an Emotional Support Dog are serious mental or emotional health conditions. You may qualify to obtain an ESA if you have one of the following conditions: depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, seasonal affective disorder and panic disorder. 

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Do You Need to Board Your Animals Over the Holidays?

Lots of holiday travel this time of year. Sometimes it is not practical to travel with your four-legged family member? Do you need to make sure your precious animal is safe, happy and well-cared for while you are traveling? Make sure you find out these things before you make a reservation.

Here are some things to consider doing and/or asking before your trip:

Ask Your Vet

The first place to start is contact your local vet for boarding or to ask for a recommendation in case they don’t offer boarding as a service. You already trust your vet and they know your furry loved one.

Reviews

Best way to get a feel for the new place is to see what other people are saying about that Animal Care Center or Vet. Find reviews on your search engine browser. You’ll get a pretty good indication of the place through other people’s comments / opinions.

Make an Unannounced Visit Stop by unannounced to check out the place that you are considering.

  • See how responsive and friendly the staff are to you.
  • Witness the animals there or ask to get a tour.
  • How does it smell and feel?
  • Is it clean?
  • You know your animal better than anybody. Will he/she feel comfortable there?
  • Is there enough space in the kennel or boarding arrangement?
  • How do the indoor and outdoor play areas look?

Inspection Certificate Current

Your particular state has laws for an Animal Care Center or Vet that boards animals. Typically, there is an inspection certificate in plain view displayed. If you don’t see it, ask about the laws?

Require Current Vaccinations

Ask about the specific requirements of animals that are boarded there so your animal is protected.

Animal’s Food and Belongings Let’s make your family pet as comfortable as possible. See if they will let you bring your animal’s food, bedding, toys, etc.

Animal Care Information Don’t forget to make up a list of medications, emergency contacts, and special instructions for your loved one and give it to the Center or Vet.

One of the greatest worries for many dog and cat owners is leaving their pets unattended while they are away from home. There may be no place for your pet on a business trip or a family vacation. With Animal Care Center so close to home, there's no need to worry.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

National Adopt a Senior Pet Month

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month! ASPCA states that “if you’ve been thinking about adding a four-legged-friend to your family, consider opening your home and your heart to an older dog or cat in need”.

According to Petfinder, the absolute most difficult group of homeless pets to place are older dogs and cats. Senior pets tend to spend the longest amount of time at a shelter or rescue before finding their forever home — if they find one at all, that is. Older canines and felines of advanced age have higher euthanasia rates than their younger counterparts, and can often live the rest of their lives out in a shelter kennel.

While small puppies and kittens are adorable, older pets are just as loving and loyal as their younger counterparts. Adopting a senior animal companion comes with some cool advantages:

  • Adult pets don’t require the training and constant monitoring that kittens and puppies do.
  • Most of the adult animals are already housetrained.
  • Since senior pets are fully grown, you’ll be immediately aware of important information like personality type and grooming requirements, making it easier to choose the perfect pet for your family.

You are welcoming a lifetime of love into your home and saving a precious life when you adopt a senior pet.

Benefits of Pet Ownership for the Elderly

“Animals can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction and physical activity. Pets provide other intangibles, too. “Dogs and cats live very much in the present,” says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey-based psychotherapist. “They don’t worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people.”

Pets can also have an astounding effect on symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness. “Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pets’ companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet,” says Linda Anderson, who founded the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis with her husband, Allen, to spread awareness of the benefits of pet ownership,” reports Aging Care.

History

“The ASPCA and petfinder.com founded Adopt a Senior Pet Month to improve the perception of senior pets as quality animals for adoptions. They are just as, and sometimes, more adoptable than younger animals. Consider adopting an older animal when you look into adopting this year,” recommends National Day Calendar.

Call today at 770.438.2694 to get more information or to schedule an appointment for your animal.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Most Common Surgeries for Pets

We all want our family pet to be happy and healthy. There are times when your furry loved one will have to have surgery.

Here are the most common surgeries your pet may face:

Spaying

Spaying is removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet. It is a veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and offers lifelong health benefits.

Neutering

Neutering is the removing of your male dog or cat’s testicles. This procedure will vastly improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.

USA Today cites “that pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest. According to the report, neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs”.

The reduced lifespan seen in unaltered pets is typically caused by the pets' natural urge to roam outdoors and fight with other animals, and unfortunately, they also can be hit by cars.

“Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100 percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats”, reports The Humane Society.

Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers of unplanned litters that could be prevented by spaying or neutering.

Soft-tissue Surgery

Here are some examples of soft-tissue surgeries:

  • Removal of skin disorders, cancers and cysts
  • Body cavity procedures
  • Cardiovascular system repair
  • GI (removal of foreign objects, urogenital and respiratory tract

Repair Injuries

Another type of surgery could include repairing physical injuries to:

  • bones,
  • muscles,
  • ligaments and
  • tendons

Neurosurgery

Another type of surgery could include diseases of the:

  • brain
  • spinal cord
  • nerves and
  • muscles

It is important that you locate a Veterinary that is certified and experienced at diagnosing and performing these surgeries.

Call today at 770.438.2694 to get more information or to schedule an appointment for your animal.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Have you ever tried to figure out the solution for the Rubik's Cube? With this tutorial you will solve it quickly.

Items in Your Purse Could be Poisonous to your Pet

Pet owners contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) daily due to their pets ingesting something dangerous in their purse or bag. Make sure you are educated about what your pet can and cannot be exposed to. Here is a list of items from ASPCA to make sure you keep away from your pet that could be poisonous to them and cause serious damage or be fatal.

Pet Poisons

  • Medications: These can range from over-the-counter meds, to prescriptions, to vitamins and supplements. Sometimes medications are combined into one container or pill-minder to save space, but that can make it difficult to remember how many of each were in the container and what medications were in there to begin with. And if your pet does get into any medications, it is important to know (or be able to estimate) how much they ingested. It is always safest to keep medications and supplements in separate child-proof containers and out of reach of our furry friends.
  • Sugar-free gum or candy: These candies and gums can be toxic to dogs because many of these products contain the sweetener xylitol, which can cause low blood sugar and liver failure if enough is ingested. Be sure to check the ingredients on any sugary products and keep away from curious pets.
  • Chocolate: This one should be a no brainer. Risks in pets from chocolate ingestion can range from stomach upset to an increase in heart rate and effects to the nervous system, depending on how much was ingested and what type of chocolate was consumed. Always remember the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. 
  • Make-up: Depending on what country it was manufactured in; some cosmetics may contain lead which could be harmful to pets if ingested. 
  • Albuterol inhalers: If pets are able to puncture an inhaler, symptoms can include lethargy, an increase in heart rate and changes to their potassium level. 
  • Eye drops: Naphazoline, an ingredient found in most redness relief formulas, and brimonidine, found in eye drops for glaucoma, can both cause a serious drop in heart rate and blood pressure, even if small amounts are ingested.
  • Coins: Pennies contain zinc and can cause zinc toxicity. Too much zinc will cause severe stomach upset, anemia, kidney injury and inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Illicit drugs: Any exposure is considered life-threatening with drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines. Marijuana or THC can also be potentially hazardous and can be found in things like edibles, homemade desserts or gummies. 

If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances or ingested something dangerous, contact Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) 888-426-4435 immediately or a local Veterinarian to make sure your furry loved one is safe.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Over 50 Million Dogs and Cats are Obese

“In the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's 2017 clinical survey, 56% of dogs and 60% of cats were classified as clinically overweight or obese by their veterinary healthcare professional. That equals an estimated 50.2 million dogs and 56.5 million cats are too heavy, based on 2017 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In 2016, APOP found 54% of dogs and 59% of cats were overweight or obese. The number of pets with clinical obesity continues to increase states APOP Founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. We’re continuing to see more pets diagnosed with obesity rather than overweight. Clinical obesity results in more secondary conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and certain forms of cancer. Pets with obesity also have reduced quality of life and shorter life expectancy,” explains PetObesityPrevention.org.

Obesity

How do I know if my cat or dog is obese? You have many options to find out. Here are two methods to determine if your furry friend is obese:

  1. Contact a local Vet and have a thorough exam to measure their health.
  2. PetMD has a Healthy Weight Calculator for your dog or cat.

Consequences of obesityBeing overweight or obese, can have many consequences which are dangerous. Here are a few of them:

  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Skin disorders
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Orthopedic disease
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Metabolic and endocrine disorders

Reasons

Here are several reasons why pets are obese from the survey referenced above:

  • Biggest challenge to exercise your dog was the owner was too busy
  • Inadequate access to exercise areas
  • Physical limitations of owner.
  • Vet failed to recommend a maintenance or routine diet

Ways to lose weight

Weight Watchers suggests four ways to help your pet lose a few pounds:

1. A little healthy “people” food may help While you should always check with your vet first, there’s nothing wrong with serving your pet a hybrid of commercial food and some people food, Ward says. “I love giving my dogs a variety of veggies, like broccoli, celery, and asparagus, and apples as low-calorie crunchy treats,” he says. “My cats love a flake of salmon or tuna; that really satisfies them.” One warning: Never feed a pet chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, or small round foods as they may cause health problems, especially for dogs.

2. Get them up and moving How much activity does your animal need? Use this gauge: Dogs should get 30 minutes of exercise a day, but this can be broken up into 10-minute intervals during the day, Ward says. Cats need to bust a move, too. “The minimum exercise for a cat is three 5-minute play periods a day,” Ward says. “Play with a laser pointer or feather dancer, or have them chase a toy.”

3. Don’t expect big losses For a cat, a 5-pound weight loss is a lot. A good goal is about a half-pound lost per month with veterinary supervision, Ward says. Dogs and humans are much more similar when it comes to weight loss, however. “Like us, dogs can get into an aerobic state, whereas cats will do 90 seconds of effort and be done for hours.” This means that with exercise a dog can lose 1 to 2 percent of its body weight per month.

4. Endure the begging How can you handle the constant begging/whining/meowing that results anytime an animal sees food? “Increase the lean protein in your pet’s diet to provide more satiety,” Ward says. Here’s another trick: “Whatever you’re feeding your pet, reserve 20 to 25 percent for a meal right before bed. This will buy you a good night’s rest, too.”

It’s never too late to reduce your pet’s chances of contracting one of these grim disorders. Early recognition and awareness are the best defense against many diseases. Talk with a local veterinary about your loved one and set up a plan to lose the weight and get healthy if they need it.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

How Can I Tell if Does my Pet Needs Dental Care?

Animals can’t speak and tell us they have dental problems like a child can. Your pet's teeth are extremely important. “Vets say 85 percent of canines over age 4 have some form of gum disease,” reported by Animal Planet.com.

In order to catch dental disease in the early stages, you should schedule a regular inspection of your pet’s mouth. Here are some signs that you need to get your pet into the vet.

Bad Breath

Redness or bleeding along the gum line may indicate gingivitis. If food particles and bacteria are allowed to accumulate along the animal’s gum line, it can form plaque, which, when combined with saliva and minerals, will transform into calculus. This causes gum irritation and leads to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis.

Loose or Missing Teeth

Your dog's happy, carefree life should be unbothered by dental concerns, right? Think again. Frequent problems include crooked, cracked or loose teeth, an infection or an abscess.

Chewing Difficulties

Oral dysphagia can be caused by paralysis of the jaw, tongue paralysis, dental disease, swelling or wasting away of the chewing muscles, or by an inability to open the mouth. Animals with oral dysphagia often eat in an altered way, such as tilting the head to one side or throwing the head backward while eating. Food packed in the cheek folds of the mouth without saliva are also typical signs of oral dysphagia.

Tartar Build-Up

Tartar may appear as a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth, close to the gum line. Plaque is a gummy substance that forms on the teeth within a few hours after a meal. Within 24 hours, plaque begins to harden by combining with salts that are present in the saliva. As the plaque continues to accumulate and mineralize, it eventually transforms into tartar.

Drooling

“There’s normal, healthy slobber that helps your dog eat and digest. And then there’s Niagara Falls. Too much drool, or hypersalivation, can be a sign of illness” states Pets Web MD.

Pawing at the Mouth

Often, dental pain, abscesses, and periodontal disease can cause your dog to paw at his mouth, rub his muzzle after eating, or even try to get at his ears. Skin irritation can occur from the pawing and scratching, which can lead to a mistaken case of allergies.

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

A professional dental cleaning removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the teeth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gums. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Heartworm Can be Cured if Caught Early

No one wants to hear that their beloved furry family member has heartworm. In case you hear that news from your local Vet, be partially relieved that most infected animals can be successfully treated. The first goal is to stabilize your pet if he or she is showing signs of the disease. Then, kill all adult and immature worms while keeping the side effects of treatment to a minimum.

American Heartworm Society reports that “more than one million dogs currently have heartworm disease. Heartworm is a serious canine and feline health concern that threatens animals in all 48 contiguous states and Hawaii, as well as throughout the temperate regions of the world”.

Heartworm Symptoms

The main systems for both dogs and cats are cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Heartworms Spread

Heartworm is a preventable disease. The disease is spread from animal to animal by mosquitoes. Heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected animals which, can lead to heart failure and damage to other organs. Heartworm positive dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue.

Diagnostic tests

The earliest heartworms can be detected is 5 months after a dog has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Your vet can run blood tests in order to check for heartworms.

Prevention

Prevention is the BEST treatment. Test annually: If a heartworm-positive dog is not tested before starting their preventive regimen, the dog will remain infected and the disease will progress. Preventive medicines do not kill heartworms and can trigger dangerous reactions and possible death. Test your dogs and cats every year at your annual vet visit.

Treatment

Animals can be exposed to the disease for a variety of reasons and need to be diagnosed and put on special therapies immediately. Heartworm treatment is much more expensive than the preventive treatment. Not to mention that it isn’t easy for your sick animal. You could have multiple vet visits for bloodwork, x-rays, hospitalization, and a series of injections. Check with your vet about the options to prevent, diagnose and treat heartworm.

Cats Cats are atypical hosts for heartworms, but they can be infected. The symptoms are similar to those in dogs, however most cats do not have adult worms, they have a shorter life cycle for the parasite. Unfortunately, cats run the risk of misdiagnosis because it is rare; however, heartworms can still cause organ damage and respiratory diseases.

Visit the American Heartworm Society for more resources and to get the facts about heartworm disease.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Develop a Pet Emergency Supply Kit for National Preparedness Month - Part 2

“National Preparedness Month encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. Homeowners, families, communities, and businesses can use this opportunity to find ways or help others understand more about preparing for disasters and reducing risks to health and the environment. There are many ways to reduce risks from contamination, leaks, spills, hazardous materials, and other dangers. This page doesn't include all possible ways of preparing but provides many ideas and links to more information,” explains EPA.

Because this topic is so important to protect yourself and your animals, this is a continuation of National preparedness Month. If you missed Part 1, catch up.

With today’s technological advances, we have numerous options to be able to communicate even without electrical power. See CNN’s suggestions.

CNN reports that “after Hurricane Harvey, locals and unofficial rescue crews used some lesser known tools to locate people in need. Consider installing Zello a walkie-talkie app that lets you share audio messages and photos. You can create new channels or join existing ones -- there are several already about Hurricane Florence -- to communicate with others in the area and ask for help. But the free app requires a Wi-Fi or network connection (even older networks like 2G will work). Meanwhile, FireChat is another messaging app that works without data or a signal, and instead relies on mesh networks. (But Bluetooth and W-Fi need to be turned on even if access isn't available, according to the company). Glympse is a real-time location sharing app that complements Zello and FireChat. After using the apps' messaging capabilities, Glympse users can share their exact whereabouts with rescue groups. Airbnb's Open Homes program helps those in need of shelter with people who want to list rooms or homes for free.

Homeland Security

Homeland Security has some valuable information for pets during a disaster shown below:

Get Informed

  • Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
  • Download the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Make a Plan

Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today. If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
  • Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
    • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
    • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
    • Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
    • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
    • Have your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
    • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
    • If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
    • Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
    • If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!

There is so much to do to be prepared for an emergency. Additional information is detailed in Part 1. Stay safe by being prepared!

If you have any questions about your pet as you are preparing for an emergency, contact a local vet that will give you peace of mind for your furry loved one.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

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