Heartworm and Tick Borne Diseases

Summer is here and along with the warmer temperatures and longer days comes some pretty serious dangers to our pets; including those pesky fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

As many of us may already be aware, mosquitoes carry a very dangerous and sometimes fatal disease called heartworm. Heartworm disease develops when a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying the heartworm larvae. As the mosquito feeds, the larvae are deposited on the dog and quickly penetrate the dog’s skin and begin the migration into the bloodstream.

Symptoms of heartworm disease may not be obvious until the infection has already caused a significant amount of damage to the heart and lungs. Signs may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite and weight loss. Eventually, as blood flow through the diseased lungs becomes more restricted, some dogs may develop heart failure. This commonly appears with a swollen abdomen, which usually indicates fluid build up. Although less commonly, a large number of heartworms can lead to sudden obstruction of blood flow through the heart and lungs. This blockage often becomes a life threatening form of cardiovascular collapse and is referred to as caval syndrome. These symptoms often include a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, dark red or coffee colored urine and inability or unwillingness to move. Few dogs suffering from caval syndrome will survive.

Our doctors recommend a heartworm test annually with their vaccinations. The heartworm test we use is called the 4DX. This not only tests for heartworm disease but several tick borne diseases including lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. The test only requires a small amount of blood and takes just 10 minutes to get results. The test cannot give accurate results until the heartworm infection has been present for at least 6 months. Heartworm disease is treatable, however can be dangerous and costly to treat. There is only one company that produces the drug to treat heartworm and it has been in short supply. The treatment itself can have fatal results if the infection is too heavy or the dog is not kept quiet during recovery.

Our doctors recommend prevention with a once a month tasty beef chewable tablet called Heartgard. The medication is inexpensive, especially when considering the high cost of treatment. It not only protects against heartworm disease but also common intestinal parasites - 3 species of hookworms and 2 species of roundworms. Heartgard works by killing any existing immature heartworms introduced to the dog by a mosquito bite in the last 30 days. It has no affect on any heartworm larvae introduced after it has been consumed. To give your dog the best protection our doctors recommend Heartgard prevention every 30 days, year round.

As previously mentioned, some other diseases we test for annually are tick borne diseases. Lyme disease is a bacterium known as a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms of lyme disease include a fever ranging from 103 degrees to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, lameness, swelling in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy and/or loss of appetite. Some dogs can develop severe progressive kidney disease. The kidney failure is difficult to treat and may result in death. If a dog tests positive for lyme disease our doctors would recommend further lab work including kidney function tests and a urinalysis. Some dogs may develop heart problems or nervous system disease as well. Our doctors recommend that any dog with potentially high tick exposure (including hunting dogs, dogs that spend a lot of time up north, and dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors) be vaccinated against lyme disease. We also recommend that all dogs be treated monthly with Frontline Plus, Certifect or Nexgard tick preventative, to decrease the chance of the disease being transmitted.

Another tick borne disease we test for is called anaplasmosis. This is another bacterial infection that is spread by deer ticks. This disease causes high fever, lethargy, and swollen painful joints. The dog may become sluggish with a poor appetite and reluctant to move around. Other signs could include vomiting, diarrhea, and neurologic signs. This disease does not yet have a vaccine and seems to be growing more and more prevalent in this area. Again, our doctors would recommend treating monthly with Frontline Plus, Certifect or Nexgard.

The final disease we test annually for is called ehrlichiosis. This tick borne disease is spread by the Brown dog tick. It typically targets the monocytes, which is a white blood cell. It can cause loss of appetite, depression, fever, painful joints, bloody nose and/or pale gums. Again there is not a vaccine available for this disease and prevention is best done by treating monthly with Frontline Plus, Certifect or Nexgard and checking your dog regularly for ticks.

Frontline Plus or Certifect are applied once a month and are waterproof once absorbed. Do not bathe your dog or allow it to swim for 24 hours pre or post application. The medication is absorbed through the subcutaneous layer of the skin and transported through the animal’s entire body. It prevents fleas and ticks for 1 month. It kills ticks within 48 hours or less (Certifect has the ability to kill them even faster than Frontline) before ticks can transmit any of the above diseases.

Nexgard is a new monthly flavored tablet that is give to prevent fleas and ticks.

Please stop in or call today to purchase your Heartgard and Frontline Plus, Certifect or Nexgard and ask us about special savings!

Purchase 12 Heartgard and 6 Frontline and save $50.00!!!!+

We are pleased to announce that we have an animal chiropractor on staff Julie Huss who will be in the office working on patients once a month.  Please give us a call if you would like to schedule an appointment.

Our clinic kitty Penelope having a rough day at the office :)

Pet Groomer Available
Heather Griswold
Appointments are available Tuesdays and Thursdays
Call Today to Schedule an Appointment!!!
Heather is offering 10% grooming prices to all new clients!!!

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Animal Medical Center Staff

About Us

About Us Animal Medical Center on Crow River is a full-service veterinary medical facility, located in Hutchinson, MN . The professional and courteous staff at Animal Medical Center on Crow River seeks to provide the best possible medical care, surgical care and dental care for their highly-valued patients. We are committed to promoting responsible pet ownership, preventative health care and health-related educational opportunities for our clients. Animal Medical Center on Crow River strives to offer excellence in veterinary care to Hutchinson, MN and surrounding areas. Please take a moment to contact us today, to learn more about our veterinary practice and to find out more information about how Animal Medical Center on Crow River can serve the needs of you and your cherished pet.