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Colorado Heartworm Cases on the Rise

 

Local veterinarians in Colorado have begun routinely testing their pet patients for heartworms, due to an increase of the parasites found in our beloved pets.

Although still relatively uncommon in our state, over 75 percent of vets in Colorado have seen cases of heartworm disease in the pets they treat. The escalation has been linked to adopted “imports” of dogs and cats originating from the Caribbean and U.S. states with a high mosquito population.  For example, in the Bahamas, nearly 90 percent of the street dogs are infected.  When an infected animal is rescued and relocated, the disease can be introduced to the local mosquito population, boosting the odds of then-infected mosquitos biting a local animal and injecting the infected blood. From there, heartworms – which can reach up to one foot in length – can develop and, left untreated, will continue to grow within the animal’s heart and lungs, resulting in a fatal infestation.

A simple test can detect the presence of heartworms, which can be treated with a series of injections that kill the worms in dogs; unfortunately, there is no treatment for infected cats. However, since cats aren’t typical hosts for the parasites, most of the worms in a cat won’t survive to adulthood. Be that as it may, the key for keeping your pets healthy is prevention.

Have your pet tested annually, ideally during the spring season, and speak with your vet about which heartworm preventative is best for your cuddly companion.  The preventatives also combat roundworms and hookworms.

The Danger of Tobacco Smoke

 

We all know secondhand smoke is a health threat to humans, but did you know it can affect your pet as well? Studies have concluded that exposure to tobacco smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer, as well as allergies, in dogs; oral cancer and malignant lymphoma in cats; lung cancer, eye and skin diseases in birds; and respiratory issues for all.

 

Are you familiar with the newly termed “third hand” smoke? It is the residue that remains on skin, fur, furniture, clothing and other objects, even after the smoke has cleared the air. This can be just as dangerous to both you and your four-legged friend, especially your furry feline. Cats are known to groom themselves regularly. As they lick their fur, they ingest the toxins tobacco smoke leaves behind, which can damage the tissues within the mouth and lead to oral cancer.

Research shows dogs living with pet parents who smoke are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases and lung cancer than dogs who live in a smoke-free home. The risk of nasal passage cancer increases 250% in long-nosed dog breeds with exposure to high levels of tobacco smoke, as the numerous poisons within the smoke build up in the nasal passages. However, the poisons are more likely to make their way to the lungs of short-nosed breeds.

 

Symptoms of cancer in animals include weight loss, difficulty eating and/or breathing, drooling, vomiting, nasal discharge, coughing, bleeding and sneezing. If your pet displays any of these symptoms, please seek advice from your vet.

 

Many smokers, upon realizing the negative affects their habit can have on their beloved pet, become more motivated to quit smoking. Others make a concerted effort to smoke away from their pet, usually outdoors. In a study published by Tobacco Control, researchers found 28.4% of smokers said learning the impact of second and third hand smoke on their pets motivated them to drop the habit.

 

It is no secret that smoking cigarettes is dangerous to a person’s health. Now we know it can also be detrimental to our beloved pets.

What is Tularemia?

 

This has been a hot topic in northern Colorado lately, but what risk does it pose to your pet? Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, is caused by a bacteria which can be transmitted to many animals including dogs, cats, and humans.

How is Tularemia transmitted to pets?

  • By eating an infected animal
  • Tick and deer fly bites
  • Drinking contaminated water

So what are the signs of Tularemia in dogs and cats?

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Listlessness
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Abscesses

If your pet is acting abnormal, take him or her to the vet for further testing.

What is the risk to your pets?

Overall, the condition is fairly rare. Public health officials routinely test wildlife found dead for the disease. If you notice a large amount of dead rabbits or other animals in your area, you can contact the Larimer County Health Department at (970) 498-6775.

How can you prevent your pets from getting it?

  • Use flea and tick repellant
  • Keep pets away from dead wildlife
  • Do not let pets drink from puddles, streams and ponds

More information can be found at http://www.larimer.org/health/tularemia.asp#pets

 

The Dangers of a Hot Car

 

 

Most pet parents know the dangers of leaving our pups in the car during a warm day, but unfortunately many don’t realize how quickly a hot car becomes lethal. We tell ourselves that it will only be five minutes, or that the window is cracked open, but this is not enough to keep your dog safe.

After just ten minutes on an 80 degree day, the car is already 99 degrees! Imagine being in a 90 degree car with a fur coat on and that’s what it is like in your hot car for your dog. Dogs can easily get heat stroke, which can result in lots of time at the vet and possibly death.

So what can you do to avoid a situation too hot to handle?

1. Take your dog into stores with you.

Many stores that do not sell food, like Home Depot and Apple, will allow leashed and well behaved dogs in the store. Make sure that your dog is on a secure leash, does not bother other people and is not a distraction.

2. Eat outside

If you are going out to eat, sit with your dog on the patio and ask to be seated in the shade.

Learn about dog friendly restaurants in Fort Collins.

3. Hire a dog walker!

Leave your dog at home and have a dog walker stop by to play with your pup! You can go on your errands without worrying about your dog, planning your stops or clocking your time. Your dog gets a dedicated friend to come by and spend time with her! Learn more about how dog walks work.