How Much Do You Know About Hookworm?

About Hookworm
 
Larvae are young hookworms that hatch from eggs found in the soil. Your dog or cat can acquire hookworm by rooting in the soil and accidentally eating one. It’s also possible for your pet to pick up hookworm when she licks dirt off her fur. Once inside your pet’s body, hookworm live in the lining of the intestinal wall. They feed on your dog or cat’s blood for survival. 
 
If the hookworm reproduces, the eggs get into your pet’s digestive tract and get into the environment through her feces. Puppies and kittens can also acquire hookworm from their mother’s breast milk and be infected with them from the first day of life.
 
Symptoms of Hookworm Infection in Puppies, Kittens, and Adult Pets
Puppies and kittens infected with hookworm may start to exhibit symptoms by two weeks of age. The most common ones include:
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • Dehydration
  • Protein deficiencies
  • Diarrhea
  • Stunted growth
  • Reduced energy
  • Low body weight
  • Blood in the stool
Pets who acquire hookworm as an adult will typically show skin irritation in the form of dermatitis on the paw pads. Adult pets may also become anemic due to the worms releasing an anticoagulant in the intestines. This usually results in diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, and dehydration.
 
Prevention of Hookworm
The website Pets and Parasites recommends that puppies receive de-worming medication from a veterinarian when they are two, four, six, and eight weeks old. This is due to the high percentage of puppies who already have this intestinal parasite. Heartworm prevention products for older dogs prevents this worm as well, so a separate hookworm protocol is not normally necessary. Your puppy should have a fecal examination up to four times during the first year of life and one to two times annually once he becomes an adult.
 
Kittens should receive de-worming medication to prevent heartworm every other week when they are three to nine weeks old. The schedule after that is the same as it is for puppies. Unfortunately, kittens also have a high rate of hookworm infestation that they acquire from their mother’s breast milk. Keeping cats indoors helps to prevent them from getting hookworm found in soil. 
 
Treating Hookworm in Dogs and Cats
A positive diagnosis of hookworm can only be made from a stool sample. It can take a few weeks for the parasite to start shedding eggs, which is why early treatment for puppies and kittens is so important. Your pet then needs to complete a course of medication to kill adult worms in the intestines. The final step is to bring your dog or cat back to Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic to have their stool checked again. We will either give you the all-clear or discuss additional treatment options.
 
If you suspect your pet has hookworm, please contact us at 1-800-924-0588 to request an evaluation. We also encourage you to get your puppy or kitten started on a de-worming protocol right away.
 
Photo Credit: AntiGerasim / Getty Images

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Tapeworm 101: What You Need to Know About This Internal Parasite

Tapeworm 101
 
If you need another reason to protect your dog or cat from fleas, consider that this external parasite can transmit tapeworm that attach themselves to your pet’s intestines. Tapeworm is a unique parasite because it consists of multiple parts that each has its own reproductive system. Because they are so small, it can be hard for you to see them on your pet. When owners do spot tapeworm, it’s typically in the feces, on the rear end of the pet, or near where the animal sleeps. Tapeworm look like tiny grains of rice or seeds.
 
Types of Tapeworm 
Fleas are the most common carriers of tapeworm and attract a type known as dipylidium caninum. Your pet may also acquire tapeworm by eating a rodent or being bitten by one. Echinococcus and taenia use smaller rodents such as mice, rabbits, and squirrels as a host. They may also show up in sheep or deer. The best way to prevent the latter type of tapeworm is not to allow your dog or cat to eat any type of prey animal.
 
How Tapeworm Affects Companion Animals
According to the website Pets and Parasites, tapeworm produce few symptoms in dogs and cats. The most obvious signs are white specks in the feces and worm segments on the rear end. It’s only when your pet has numerous tapeworm that problems with weight loss and lethargy start to appear. Occasionally, a dog or cat may vomit a worm that has moved into the stomach. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to detect tapeworm in a routine fecal examination. If you think your pet has tapeworm, please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic for a prompt evaluation.
 
Treating Tapeworm Infestation
This type of internal parasite is much easier to treat than many others, including heartworm. Treatment normally consists of a drug given orally or by injection that kills the tapeworm and causes it to dissolve in your pet’s intestines. It probably won’t show up in your pet’s stool because the worm is typically digested before it dies. Medication does not produce any unpleasant side effects for your pet.
 
Preventing your dog or cat from getting fleas and not allowing him or her to chew on animal carcasses is essential in preventing this internal parasite. We offer several varieties of flea prevention in our online store for your convenience. We encourage you to use these products year-round to prevent both fleas and tapeworm in your pet.

Our clinics carry Interceptor Plus, a monthly chewable for dogs that prevents heartworm disease.  It also treats and controls roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.  We also have Drontal Plus Chewables for dogs for treatment and control of roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.  For cats, we have Drontal tablets for treatment and control of tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms.  We also have Profender for cats, a topical solution that treats and controls hookworm, roundworm, and tapeworm infections.

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March is National Pet Food Nutrition Month

National Pet Food Nutrition

The original purpose of National Nutrition Month was to promote the importance of nutrition for children and adults. Over the years, the veterinary industry has used the month of March to highlight the importance of healthy food choices for companion animals. The most important thing you can do for your dog, cat, or other pet’s long-term health is to select nutritious food, limit treats, and ensure that he gets plenty of exercise. 
 
People don’t always put a lot of thought into the food they buy for their pet. They may naturally choose the brand with the lowest price or pick up something at the most convenient store. However, some pets have special health issues such as joint problems or food sensitivities that require owners to consider their food more carefully. It’s also important to keep in mind that your pet’s nutritional needs change as she passes through each stage of life.
 
Evaluating Food for Your Dog
You may see the word premium on a dog food label and assume that it’s a higher quality than other dog foods. What you probably don’t know is that a dog food manufacturing company can call a product premium as long as it contains a minimum of one percent beef. We encourage you to look closer at pet food labels and have higher standards for the products you purchase. 
 
The healthiest diets for dogs have animal protein listed as the primary ingredient. If you notice grains, fruits, or vegetables, they should be in pure form and not processed. That is because processing these ingredients strips the food of nutrients and vitamins that your dog needs to maintain good health.
 
Evaluating Food for Your Cat
Cats also receive maximum nutritional benefit when an animal protein is the most plentiful ingredient in their food. Some cat owners try to avoid grain-based ingredients because they’re concerned about their cat maintaining a healthy weight. In this case, it’s important to note the carbohydrate content in your cat’s food. Anything containing vegetables or potatoes can have a high carbohydrate count. Small amounts of carbs are okay since your cat can easily convert them into energy.
 
All pet food should have a Guaranteed Analysis on its packaging. This symbol means that the food has met minimum requirements for protein, water, fat, and fiber. For cats, it’s especially important that the food contain fish oil.
 
Speak to Our Staff About Your Nutritional Concerns
Every pet has different nutritional needs based on age, species, lifestyle, general health, and other factors. The annual preventive care exam is an excellent time to go over your pet’s diet with Dr. Palmquist or another member of our staff. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment soon after bringing a new pet home to get off to a great start.

If your pet requires a special diet, keep in mind that we carry Royal Canin, Purina Pro, and other brands in our online store. We also carry the same brands as well as Taste of the Wild directly at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic.

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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

National Pet Dental Health Month
 
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started National Pet Dental Health Month several years ago as an initiative for pet owners to follow an at-home oral healthcare routine. It also hoped to underscore the importance of bringing companion animals to the veterinarian for a regular check-up and professional cleaning. 
 
The AMVA started this awareness campaign in response to the startling statistic that up to 80 percent of cats and dogs have at least a mild form of gum disease by age three. This causes bacteria to attack the gum tissue and can lead to tooth loss, infection, and numerous other serious health conditions. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, starts when food debris and bacteria build up on tooth surfaces and eventually get underneath the gum tissues. If bacteria reach the bloodstream, it can cause problems with your pet’s kidneys, liver, or heart.
 
Most Common Signs of Periodontal Disease in Cats and Dogs
Persistent bad breath is one of the first signs that your pet could have an oral healthcare issue. Although this problem is extremely common, many pet owners don’t realize they should have their pet evaluated by a veterinarian because of it. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic if you notice loose or discolored teeth, reluctance to eat, difficulty chewing, or excess drooling.
 
You’re in good company if Dr. Palmquist diagnoses periodontal disease in your pet. According to the AVMA, it’s the most frequently diagnosed health condition among cats and dogs. He will work with you to find solutions for reversing your pet’s gum disease, such as daily toothbrushing, feeding your pet nutritious food, and returning to one of our clinics for regular follow-up appointments.
 
The Importance of a Consistent Oral Healthcare Routine at Home
Dental exams and cleanings performed by a veterinarian are important, but they can’t replace the care your pet receives at home. We find that many people avoid brushing their dog or cat’s teeth because they’re afraid of their pet becoming aggressive. While your fear is understandable, keep in mind that pets love to please their owners and should eventually come to accept toothbrushing if you remain consistent in your approach and expectations.
 
If you have never brushed your pet’s teeth before, it’s important to start small. Try placing a small amount of toothpaste on a treat and allow him to lick it off to experience the taste. If that goes okay, approach your pet when he’s calm and massage his jaws to get him to open his mouth. Place the toothbrush in his mouth, but don’t start brushing yet. That can wait until he tolerates you placing something in his mouth. Start by doing just the front teeth and then work your way up to brushing all the teeth for a full two minutes.
 
Be sure to give your pet lots of praise and affection for any amount of cooperation. However, don’t reward her with treats beyond the first session. Giving her a treat each time will defeat the purpose of daily toothbrushing in the first place. Please let us know if you have additional questions or would like a demonstration of toothbrushing at your pet’s next preventive care exam.
 
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