How many worms, ticks, viruses, or fleas on your pet are OK with you? Ten? One hundred? One thousand? I am going to bet that your answer is zero. Unfortunately, parasites are a constant threat to our pets. Most parasites are microscopic, so the threat goes unnoticed. It is amazing how many people decline an annual fecal exam because “they don’t see anything in their pet’s stool”!
There is a very interesting website (www.capcvet.org) that breaks down the incidence of parasites in all the counties in the United States and Canada. The following are the current statistics for Berks county:
Lyme disease – 18.9% (1 of 6 dogs test positive)
Erhlichiosis – 1.81% (1 of 56)
Anaplasmosis – 8.36% (1 of 12)
Roundworms – 3.11% (1 of 33)
Hookworms – 2.46% (1 of 41)
Whipworms – 1.11% (1 of 90)
Giardia – 4.95% (1 of 21)
Heartworm – 0.04% (1 of 157)
FeLV – 1.97% (1 of 51 cats)
FIV – 5.7% (1 of 18)
In our practice, we diagnose dogs with Giardia on a regular basis. Currently we have 2 dogs that are undergoing heartworm treatment. So, the threat is real. Please bring in a fecal when your pet comes in for their annual exam. Our staff is ready to answer any questions about the threat of parasites to your pet, and will help you formulate a plan to lessen the risk to your pet.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D
Boogie Monsters DO Exist!
Boogie monsters are the stuff of childhood stories and Stephen King horror novels. However, in the real world they are still out there, waiting to take advantage of the vulnerable cat or dog. In July, Berks county experienced a rabid dog at another veterinary clinic. The dog had its initial puppy shot, but the owner did not follow up with any additional vaccines. The dog was kept outside, but had no history of injuries or bite wounds. The dog developed vomiting, that progressed to seizures. Luckily the veterinarian tested the dog, and now the entire veterinary staff, and the family are having to endure the post-exposure treatment.
This year our clinic has had to treat several dogs for heartworm infection. The disease is carried by mosquitos, and treatment involves several days of injections, along with exercise restriction for weeks after the treatment. We have seen some patients that have not returned for their treatment, resulting in a source of infection in the community for other dogs.
The sad part is that all these situations were entirely preventable. Rabies vaccines are readily available, and required by state law for any dog and indoor cat over 12 weeks of age. Monthly heartworm preventative is inexpensive, and highly effective. Please feel free to ask our staff if you have any questions about vaccines and heartworm preventative. Don’t let the boogie monsters have their way with your beloved pet!
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.
As we head into warmer weather, it is time to share some fun tick facts.
- Ticks are part of the Arachnoid species, so they are more closely related to spiders and scorpions.
- There are over 800 species of ticks.
- Ticks crawl up their hosts, and are attracted to their hosts by heat, odor, and CO2.
- The majority of ticks use 3 different hosts for their 3 different life stages.
- Ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit disease.
- Ticks have anti-inflammatory and anesthetic agents in their saliva to make it less likely that their hosts will notice that they have been bitten.
- Temperatures have to be less than 10F for a long period of time for ticks to die.
- Male ticks die right after mating.
We have multiple options for controlling ticks. Please talk to one of our staff members about what may be appropriate for your pet. And, it is quite likely, you may find one of these on your human self! We also have “tick twisters”, which can be used on humans and pets, alike.
Recently we have noticed an alarming trend in our patients. The current fad in nutrition is the high protein, no grain formulas touted by big companies with even bigger marketing budgets. While limited grains may be appropriate for dogs and cats with food allergies or other medical issues, there is no scientific proof that grains are bad for animals in general. In the past year we have had multiple patients that are on such diets develop urinary problems, including kidney and bladder stones. A balanced diet is the key to good nutrition for your pets as well as yourself. There are plenty of diets available to support your pet’s nutritional needs without resorting to the latest “fad diet”. Please feel free to discuss your pet’s nutritional needs with one of our veterinarians on your next visit.
Ann Bastian, V.M.D.
Happy New year to you and your family. As we start the year, I wanted to make you aware of some changes you will see the next time you bring your pet in for their annual exam. Based on our most recent understanding of the immune system and vaccines, Willow Creek will be changing how we administer vaccines. The changes are in line with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association. Rabies is required by Pennsylvania state law, and will be administered as required. Certain vaccines will be considered core vaccines, meaning that all animals should be vaccinated for these diseases. For some of these vaccines, the frequency of administration will be extended, while others will remain the same. Other vaccines will be based on you and your pet’s lifestyle and risk exposure. Vaccines are a vital part of maintaining your pet’s health, and the doctors at Willow Creek will help you make educated decisions on what is best for your pet. As always, your pets and their health are our top concern.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.