Whipworms

According to Pets and Parasites, whipworm is one of the four most common types of intestinal parasites founds in dogs. They make themselves at home in the cecum of your dog, which is the part of the body where the large and small intestines come together. Your dog can easily acquire whipworm by digging in soil and consuming whipworm eggs or parts of feces from herself or other dogs that contain whipworm. Whipworms are approximately one-quarter of an inch long and can survive for up to five years. They can also reproduce multiple times inside of your dog’s body. 

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Whipworms in Dogs

This parasite can cause severe irritation to the lining of your dog’s intestines. When that happens, you are likely to notice at least some of these symptoms:

  • Bloody and watery diarrhea
  • General fatigue and listlessness
  • Infection and death in severe cases
  • Weight loss

Diagnosing whipworm in dogs can be tricky. That is because a veterinarian must spot at least one microscopic egg in a dog’s stool, and whipworms don’t mix with a dog’s stool every time he defecates. Another issue is that it can take up to 12 weeks after hatching for a female whipworm to lay eggs inside of your dog’s body. These two problems can often cause false negative results. Even if a result is negative, there is a high likelihood your dog actually does have whipworm if he continues to struggle with bloody, watery diarrhea.

At Grantsburg Animal Hospital, we often recommend a heartworm medication called Interceptor to treat whipworms since it is effective at killing them as well. We may use a different type of medication if your dog’s symptoms and unique lifestyle factors call for it. If that happens, we will need to space the treatments up to four weeks apart. Once a dog has tested positive for whipworm, it’s a good idea to continue to treat every several months as a proactive measure.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Whipworm

The most effective thing you can do to prevent whipworm is to routinely remove your dog’s feces from your yard and stop him immediately if you notice him trying to eat the feces of another dog. It’s also important to keep up with your dog’s routine preventive care so we can take periodic stool samples to check for the presence of this parasite. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 715-463-2536 with additional questions or to schedule an appointment. 

 

Image credit: Annetics | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease primarily recognized in dogs. Although other animals and occasionally even people can acquire it, this is rare. Genus leptospira is the name of a bacteria group responsible for causing symptoms. The most typical way that dogs acquire leptospirosis is by drinking water from ponds, rivers, and other standing bodies of water where the bacteria thrives. 

How Dogs Become Infected with Leptospirosis and How to Recognize Its Symptoms

In addition to drinking water contaminated with the bacteria, your dog could pick it up through contact with the urine of another infected dog. This can happen when dogs dig in the same soil or share the same bedding. A bite from an infected dog or eating tissues of a smaller animal with leptospirosis could also cause your dog to acquire it.

Dogs typically have a strong enough immunity to fight off most of the leptospirosis infection. Unfortunately, it can travel quickly to the kidneys and cause significant health issues. Once infected, your dog will continue to shed the bacteria through urination for as long as several months. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with Grantsburg Animal Hospital right away if your dog engaged in any of the behaviors above and you feel concerned that she could have contracted the bacterial infection.

Your dog could pick up a strain of leptospirosis that ranges from mild to severe. His age and immunization status impact how much the disease affects him. The most common signs to watch for include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Fever
  • Frequent urination
  • Jaundice
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting

How to Treat and Prevent Leptospirosis

The simplest way to prevent your dog from picking up leptospirosis is to make sure that she receives all vaccinations on schedule. If you see your dog digging in soil, stop and redirect her to another activity. It’s also important that your dog has her own bedding and that you do not allow her to drink any type of stagnant water. 

If you bring your dog into Grantsburg Animal Hospital due to a suspected case of leptospirosis, our veterinarian will first take a urine and blood sample. Determining whether your dog has leptospirosis or another condition can be challenging since it mimics so many other canine diseases. The most typical course of action for dogs who test positive for leptospirosis is to start on antibiotic medication right away.

We will need to provide more invasive treatment such as administering IV fluids if our veterinarian determines that the bacteria has affected your dog’s liver or kidneys. Dogs who continue to struggle with vomiting can receive a medication for that as well.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 715-463-2536 with additional questions or complete an online appointment request form.

 

Image credit: Jupiterimages | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease

 
We’re sure you’ve heard of Lyme Disease. Most people have. But we’re always here to help and educate pet parents, so we wanted to take a closer look at this serious illness as we enter Lyme Disease season. Did you know that in 2018 we saw 271 Lyme Disease positive dogs in our practice alone?
 
What is Lyme Disease?

 
First and foremost, we live in an area that is plagued with Lyme Disease. This disease is no laughing matter. It results from bacteria spread by ticks and can affect dogs, cats, humans, deer, raccoons, mice, squirrels, and other mammals. And these ticks are sneaky! They’re sometimes so small that they can disguise themselves as freckles and go undetected until after they’ve had a chance to fill with blood.
 
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that around 350,000 people will contract Lyme Disease each year. From coast to coast, Lyme Disease is found in every state, including the entire Midwest. The majority of cases occur in spring, but this disease infects dogs, cats, people, and other animals year around.
 

Lyme Disease Is on the Rise

 
For the past twenty-five years, the CDC has seen a spike in incidents of Lyme Disease. In fact, reports of this disease have doubled! Why? Well, they suspect that as more and more people adopt outdoor lifestyles and enjoy more hiking, camping, and nature-walks, the more people and their pets are exposed to infected ticks.
 
Unfortunately, dogs end up as the most frequent victims of Lyme Disease. This is because ticks do an amazing job of hiding deep in a dog’s coat, dogs are closer to the ground, and dogs don’t have thumbs, which makes tick removal more difficult for them.
 

Symptoms and Health Concerns for Dogs with Lyme Disease

 
Only 5-10% of dogs that contract Lyme Disease will show obvious symptoms, and symptoms typically don’t occur until two to five months after infection. Dogs infected with Lyme Disease will go through three stages of symptoms and complications. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear until the third stage!
 

Stage One

  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite

Stage Two

  • Lameness
  • Arthritis
  • Inflamed and painful joints

Stage Three

  • Heart complications
  • Kidney damage
  • Neurological issues
  • Severe arthritis

Symptoms and Health Concerns for Cats with Lyme Disease
 
It’s also important to remember that cats can also contract Lyme Disease. Many cat owners believe that cats are immune to Lyme Disease because many infected cats don’t show symptoms. 
 
  • Stiffness
  • Pain and sensitivity to touch
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lameness in limbs
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Kidney issues, including possible kidney failure
  • Heart complications
  • Nervous system issues
 
 
If your dog or cat is exhibiting any symptoms of Lyme disease, we can run blood tests that look for the bacteria that causes the disease, and the antibodies that fight it. These tests help us diagnose your pet so we can begin treatment.
 

How Can You Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease?

 
A tick infected with Lyme Disease will pass the bacteria to your dog or cat after feeding for about 24 hours. If you go on a hike or your pet plays in a wooded area, make sure you check them for ticks afterwards.
 
The best way to protect your pup or cat from getting sick is to use a prescription flea and tick preventive medicine. These will kill an infected tick before it has a chance to transmit the bacteria to your pet. Provide your pet with protection year-round and stay consistent - don’t skip any months. At Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic, we recommend the Lyme vaccine on all of our canine patients, even the house dogs, as we are in an endemic area.
 
Don’t skip annual appointments because many pets won’t show signs of Lyme Disease until months after infection. Make an appointment with us to learn about the many affordable and effective prevention methods we offer, or to explore treatment options if your furry friend tests positive.
 
Image credit: Chalabala | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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Not-So-Fascinating Facts About Fleas and Ticks


Did you know that fleas can pull 160,000 times their own weight? That’s proportionally more weight than you pulling a skyscraper! Did you also know that fleas can jump 30,000 times repeatedly without stopping! Talk about Leg Day! While these facts can be fascinating, fleas feasting on your pet are not. Both fleas and ticks can make life for your dog or cat pretty miserable.

What Is It Like for a Pet with Fleas?
 
A day in the life for a pet with fleas can be both physically and mentally uncomfortable and draining. As your dog falls into a deep slumber and finally reaches REM sleep when he begins to dream, he will be startled awake by flea bites followed by an irresistible need to scratch. He’ll wake up, scratch his ears, around his collar, maybe chew on his lower back above his tail, then snuggle down again. Of course, this cycle happens over and over again throughout his sleep.
 
And fleas don’t just keep your dog or cat from receiving rest. They will continue to bite throughout the day, each time your pet will stop, scratch or chew, and carry on. One flea can bite your pet 400 times per day and lay up to 50 eggs per day. Can you imagine how many daily bites that can lead to? It’s no wonder so many dogs and cats end up with bald patches and areas of their skin that they chew raw. 
 
This problem is even worse for cats and dog with flea allergies.
 
Fleas don’t just bother your pet, they prevent your pet from enjoying his day-to-day activities. They bother pet owners, too. Fleas can be costly and difficult to get rid of. Only 5% of fleas live on your pet, the rest hide throughout your home in the carpet and bedding. And here’s another fact, it takes two to three weeks for flea eggs to hatch, making the infestation reappear after one finally thinks they’ve solved the problem.

Ticks Can Cause Serious Damage to a Pet’s Health, Too

Ticks also cause discomfort for pets and lead to severe illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme’s Disease. These arachnids can practically be microscopic when they first a hitch a ride on your pup, but soon enough, they will fill with blood and drop off. 
 
Fleas and ticks can lead to anemia, internal parasites like tapeworms, diseases, and infection.
 

Here are the real facts:

  • Ticks often hop on a dog or cat after clinging to stalks and grass.
  • Ticks love areas where deer and other wild animals live.
  • Ticks go through four life stages and live up to three years.
  • Fleas can jump 150 times their height.
  • There are 2,000 species of fleas. The cat flea is the most common.
  • Fleas can survive 1-2 weeks without eating.
  • Ticks can cause a disease called Alpha-gal which causes human to form an allergy to red meat.

How Can You Prevent Your Pet from Getting Fleas and Ticks?

 
We know there are endless ‘natural’ solutions out there for fleas and ticks, but none will completely safeguard your pet. Just one tick can infect your dog or cat with a painful and life-threatening disease. The same is true of fleas. If your dog or cat swallows a flea with tapeworms, they will likely contract tapeworms (an owner's least favorite problem to deal with).
 
If you’re considering essential oils, sprays, or homeopathic remedies for fleas and ticks, please consult with us first. We offer a wide range of safe and effective flea and tick preventions that will keep your pet safe and your home bug-free.
 
With adequate flea and tick prevention, you can enjoy the great outdoors worry-free with your pet this spring. (And these intriguing facts about fleas will be more fascinating than frightening!)

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