Now that summer is finally here, you and your dog are probably both eager to spend more time outside. However, it’s also important to be aware that the warmer weather also means that your dog has a greater likelihood of developing heartworm. Dogs can only develop heartworm in one way and that is through a bite from an infected mosquito.
Mosquitos acquire heartworm when they bite a dog that already has the parasite. The circumstances must be just right for this to happen, which means the heartworm present must be adults that have already started reproducing.
When a mosquito sucks the blood of an infected dog, it takes the babies of the heartworm called microfilariae into its own body. These develop into larvae over the next 10 days to two weeks and become infected. The mosquito then transfers the heartworm larvae to a new host when it bites another dog. This dog doesn’t develop symptoms of heartworm disease until the heartworm become adults several months later.
Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Heartworm can have an incredibly long life span and live up to seven years once inside of your dog’s body. A single worm can grow to a length of 12 inches and reproduce multiple times. When a female heartworm reproduces, it can release several thousand tiny worms into your dog’s bloodstream. Although the symptoms may not be obvious for several months, you'll eventually notice these issues:
- Easily fatigued
- Refusal to eat
- Weight loss
- Persistent cough
The following symptoms are common with advanced cases of heartworm:
- Difficulty breathing
- Blood in the urine
- Distended stomach
If you suspect that your dog has heartworm, please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic right away for an examination. It typically only takes one blood test to determine if your dog is heartworm positive. The first thing we will recommend if your dog tests positive is to reduce exercise or prevent him from doing it altogether. He will also need to take medication to eliminate the heartworm from his body after he has reached a point of stabilization. We test your dog again approximately six months after the last dose of medication to ensure that he no longer has heartworm remaining in his body.
Preventing Heartworm is Easier Than Treating It
Dogs are fortunate in that they are much more responsive to heartworm treatment than cats. Even so, the process is long, uncomfortable, and expensive. It’s much better to prevent your dog from getting heartworm in the first place. Prevention comes in many forms, including chewable medication and a topical solution. You can find these products and more in our online store. Please let us know if you would like a specific product recommendation or if you have additional questions about summer heartworm control.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
While it’s fun to watch your pet engage with her toys, it’s also important to remember that dogs and cats need toys for physical activity, entertainment, comfort, distraction, and mental stimulation. It’s not spoiling your dog or cat to buy or make what she needs to lead a happy life. However, not all pet toys are entirely safe for them. It’s up to you to consider the safety of a toy before allowing your pet to play with it. Below are several things to think about for both dog and cat toys.
Choosing Safe Dog Toys
Dog breeds vary considerably, which means that you need to carefully consider the size of your dog’s mouth before giving him a new toy. A poodle, for example, would not be able to handle a chew bone in the same way that a Great Dane would. Some dog toys contain parts they could swallow easily, including buttons, plastic eyes, strings, polystyrene beads, or nutshells.
As a dog owner, you already know that your dog has a built-in need to chew. Safe choices for toys that help to fulfill this desire include a Kong, a busy box with a treat hidden inside, a small rope with a knot on each end, and tennis balls. Busy boxes are an especially good idea because they motivate your dog to keep interacting with the toy to release a treat.
At Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary clinic, we offer several safe dog toy options in our online store. Some of these include:
- Large squeaky balls
- Nylon bones
- Kong toys
- Rawhide rings
Choosing Safe Cat Toys
While a dog’s primary instinct is chewing, a cat’s is to hunt and stalk. Something as simple as a chasing a rubber band across the floor can entertain a cat for hours. However, this could present a choking hazard. When selecting toys for your cat, choose items that she can bat at and that allow her to interact with her human family. Be sure to watch for choking hazards, including small pieces that your cat can easily chew off. Some safe toys for cats that we recommend from MyVetStoreOnline include:
- Egg-cercizer treat dispenser
- Doorway dangler
- Kong cat wobbler
- Incline scratcher
Toys are especially important for indoor cats who may become bored and destructive without them.
Rotate Your Pet’s Toys Frequently
We encourage you to rotate your pet’s toys on a regular basis to keep him interested in them. When you put a toy into storage for a while and then re-introduce it to your pet, he will think the toy is new. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions about toy safety or MyVetStoreOnline.
Photo Credit: npdesignde / iStock / Getty Images Plus