Preventive Services

You can help keep your pet healthy by protecting him or her against parasites. Heartworms, fleas, ticks, and other internal and external parasites are much more than just pests; they can cause life-threatening conditions in your pet—and cause severe, potentially fatal, health problems for you and your family. We will recommend a preventive regimen for your pet based on lifestyle and risk factors. We can also provide advice on keeping your whole household safe from parasitic infection. Set up an appointment with us to discuss parasite prevention, or call us to refill your pet’s medication. Protect your pet and your family today!

Heartworm Prevention

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When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. And those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog or cat. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.

Although often thought to not be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.

Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention—and it can actually kill your dog. There is no approved treatment for cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. And even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.

Fortunately, there’s a way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering monthly heartworm preventives. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. We can recommend a regimen of prevention for your pet.

Flea Prevention and Control

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Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from minor to life-threatening. Not only can these parasites cause severe itching, irritation, and allergies, but they can also transmit tapeworms and diseases. Fleas can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, and rats. And fleas don’t just stay on pets; they can bite people, too. For more information, contact us or see the flea article in the Pet Health Library on our site.

You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home. We can help keep them away or help you get rid of them if they’ve already found their way inside. Call us to find out how to eliminate and control fleas or to start your pet on a preventive today.

Tick Prevention

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Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in North America, and they’re now being found in areas where people and pets didn’t previously encounter ticks. These parasites aren’t just a nuisance; they can cause serious—and sometimes deadly—diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tick paralysis. Contact us immediately if your pet starts coughing or has joint pain, trouble breathing, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite, weight, energy, or coordination.

Keep ticks off your pet by keeping your dog or cat on a tick preventive. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing or shoes. Tick preventives are safe and effective at controlling ticks and the diseases they carry. Call us to get your pet protected today!

Don’t panic if you find a tick on your dog or cat, even if your pet is on a preventive. Some preventives kill ticks after they’ve come in contact with your pet. Ticks can hide under your pet’s fur, so as an added measure of protection, we recommend checking your pet for ticks every time your pet comes in from outside. And don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have.

Leptospirosis

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Leptospirosis

This past fall(2017) Nova Scotians heard a lot about leptospirosis.  As of early January, it is estimated that there may have been as many as 200 cases, largely in the HRM area.  Unlike the USA, it is not a reportable disease in Canada, so it has been hard to accurately track.  We do know that about 80% of tests done at a Canadian lab did come from our area.  Initial cases were largely from the peninsula area of Halifax, and then expanded to the Fairview/Spryfield areas.  As the fall progressed, a few more cases came from outside areas.

Facts:

  • Leptospirosis is an infection of bacterial spirochetes.
  • It is transmittable from animal to animal and/or animal to human (ZOONOTIC).
  • Most animals transmit the spirochetes through contaminated water sources. It enters the body through mucous membranes, eyes, nose, mouth and/or broken skin.
  • Because spirochetes are spiral or corkscrew-shaped the bacteria will infiltrate the body by burrowing into the skin.
  • It spreads through the entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes and reproductive system.
  • Soon after initial infection, fever and bacterial infection of the blood develop. These symptoms can resolve through the reactive increase of antibodies which can clear the spirochetes from most of the system.
  • The extent to which the bacteria affects the organs depends on the animal’s immune system and its ability to eradicate the infection fully. Even then, Leptospira spirochetes can remain in the kidneys, reproducing there and infecting the urine.
  • Infection of the kidneys or liver can be fatal if the infection progresses, causing severe damage to these organs.
  • Younger animals or older animals with compromised immune systems are at highest risk for severe complications.
  • Children or immunocompromised people are at the most risk of acquiring the bacteria from an infected pet.
  • It is currently unknown how long the bacteria can live in the environment for. It is said that if the area is dry that it tends to die, but as long as the environment is moist or humid it can live for long periods of time. The bacteria can remain dormant for some time before it activates in the preferred environment.
  • It is more prevalent in marshy/muddy areas which have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife.
  • It is more prevalent here during the months of July to December because of the moist/humid environment.
  • Infection rates for domestic pets has been increasing in US and Canada over the last few years.
  • Dogs will typically come in contact with the bacteria in infected water, soil, mud, while swimming, passing through or drinking contaminated water, or from coming in contact with urine from an infected animal.

Animals that are at an increased risk for Leptospirosis are as follows:

  • Hunting/sporting animals
  • Animals that live near wooded areas
  • Animals that live on or near farms
  • Animals that are in high traffic areas frequently such as: kennels, dog parks, off leash walks, agility, obedience classes, etc.…
  • Recent studies also indicate that dogs in urban areas, even if only in their own backyards, are at risk due to raccoons, rats and contaminated water reservoirs.

Symptoms:

  • Sudden fever and illness
  • Sore muscles, reluctance to move
  • Stiffness in muscles, legs, stiff gait
  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Rapid dehydration
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood
  • Diarrhea, with or without blood in stool
  • Bloody vaginal discharge
  • Dark red speckled gums (petechiae)
  • Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes
  • Spontaneous cough
  • Difficulty breathing, fast breathing, irregular pulse
  • Runny nose
  • Swelling of mucous membranes
  • Mild swelling of lymph nodes

Spring 2018 Forecast

Although we don’t know what spring will bring (except hopefully warmer weather!), it is best to air on the side of prevention and have a discussion with your veterinarian.  If your dog is being vaccinated for the first time, there are two vaccines three weeks apart, and then an annual revaccination will be recommended.  Annual vaccines are recommended at 12 months from the date of the second initial vaccine.  Vaccines to date are available that cover four strains of the bacteria which is a good preventative measure.