Monday, November 28, 2011


I don't see it

Most intestinal parasites are too small to see.  They can be found by your vet, who gets a sample of your dog's feces and examines it under a microscope.  There the eggs can be identified.  Depending on what it found, different dewormers will be prescribed. 


Puppies should be given a routine deworming at 2,4, and 6 weeks.  They are then started on a heartworm preventative at 8 weeks that also controls intestinal parasites.  Interceptor, Iverhart Max and Heartgard Plus all control hookworms.  These are given once a month for the rest of the dog's life.  If an adult dog is brought into the home, it should be treated twice with dewormer, 2 weeks apart, then started on heartworm prevention.  Feces should be picked up immediately to prevent contamination of the soil.  If the soil becomes infested, a flamethrower is the only tool available to kill the eggs in the ground.  Bleach will kill eggs on hard surfaces.


Dogs with hookworms can show no symptoms at all or can have diarrhea, possibly bloody.  They may be lethargic or have difficulty gaining weight.  As the parasite load gets worse, a dog can lose weight and if left untreated can cause death, especially in young or sick animals.  Because the worms themselves are so small they are not able to be seen with the naked eye.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Caring for Your Older Pet

What is a Senior Pet?

The old adage of "that's 107 in dog years" has some merit.  Dogs age faster than humans, but it is not exactly a one to seven ratio.  The first year of a dog's or cat's life is approximately the same as a human's first 18 years.  After that, the aging process slows down, and depending on breed and size at about age 7, your dog or cat becomes a senior.  For smaller breeds like toy poodles and chihuahuas this may be extended to age 10.  Giant breeds like Mastiffs and Great Danes can be considered senior at age 5. 

What's the Difference? 

As your pet enters his golden years you may notice him slowing down or having trouble getting up after laying down.  Just like us, dogs and cats can be affected by arthritis.  This can be helped with glucosamine supplements, ideally started before middle age.  There are also prescription medications to help with pain and inflammation.  Some dogs and cats will benefit from a heated pad in their bed, or a ramp or stairs to make getting up and down easier. 

Start out Right

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is probably the single greatest gift you can give him in his older years.  Excess weight wears out knees and hips, makes pets more prone to diabetes ( See our blog post about Diabetes on pets for more info), arthiritis and just plain shortens their life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Diabetes in Cats and Dogs


Diabetes is increasing in cats and dogs in the United States, just like in humans.  And just like in humans, excess weight is often the cause.  When animals take in more calories than they can burn over long periods of time, the pancreas doesn't work the way it should.  Insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar,  is not produced properly and diabetes is the result.  In other cases, the pancreas just stops working for unknown reasons.  Breeds like Keeshonds, Samoyeds, the Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Pinschers. Poodles, Beagles, Dachshunds, Bichon Frises, Fox Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Cairn Terriers more openly affected.  In cats overweight males are more likely, but it can strike any cat.

Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, weight loss without reason, poor coat, and in dogs, loss of sight.  A blood test can tell your vet what your pet's blood glucose level is. Blood glucose is measured in mg/dl or milligrams per deciliter in the US.  Near 100 is normal. Consistently high glucose reading are the hallmark of diabetes.  Under 75 can cause loss of consciousness and seizures.  Damage to your pet's organs occur when blood sugar is too high for long periods of time.


The goal of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels in the normal range (around 100).  This is accomplished with diet and most times with insulin injections.  Routine is your best weapon.  Consistent feeding times, keeping to the same food and schedule will all help in getting and keeping your pet regulated.  In the early days of diagnosis this will involve many visits to your vet's office for blood tests.  Good control is usually not reached for several months in most cases.  Don't get frustrated, once you have a formula of feeding this much food, giving this much insulin and exercising this much it will become a habit and you will see your sickly dog or cat become healthy again.

Diabetic dogs do best on low fat, high fiber formulas like Purina DCO or Royal Canin HF.  Cats need a high protein, low carb diet and many recommend feeeding wet food to overweight and diabetic cats.

Special Considerations

Once your pet is diagnosed, you need to talk to your vet about what to do if the unexpected happens.  If you need to go out of town, what boarding facilities can take care of your pet's special needs?  What do you do if your dog or cat gets sick and won't eat, or vomits the food he just ate?  If you have these answers ahead of time the unexpected is not so scary, and you will feel more prepared.

Diabetic pets cannot control their body temperature as well as they did before, so a sweater may be needed if you live in a cold climate.  Fido probably won't be able to spend as much time outside during extreme weather as he used to.

Since he is eating a special diet are treats forbidden?  Check with your vet, but generally lean chicken breast, and unseasoned vegetables like carrots or green beans are fine.


Diabetes is manageable in most cases, but there is no cure.  Prevention is not always possible, but maintaining a healthy weight throughout your pet's life is your best chance of avoiding this disease.  As your pet ages, regular bloodwork checks and exams can catch it early, before serious consequences like blindness and kidney disease take their toll.