FAQs

Fleas

My dog always seems to have fleas. What can I do?

Successful flea control involves:

  1. Eliminating fleas from your dog (AND cat!!)
  2. Controlling fleas in the environment

Dogs and cats share the same fleas. It is important that all pets in your home are on a flea preventive. Treating your pet for fleas has never been easier. With the many choices we have today (shampoos, sprays, powders and spot-on preparations), we can provide you with the safest and most effective flea preventive for your pet’s needs. When it comes to environmental control, we must first understand the flea life cycle. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to choose the most effective and safe flea products for your home and pet.

Apart from irritation, are fleas particularly harmful?

Fleas can cause anemia, especially in young or debilitated dogs. A single female flea can take up to 15 times her body weight in blood over the several weeks of her adult life. In addition, fleas can carry several diseases and also act as vectors to spread one of the most common tapeworms of the dog and cat, Diplylidium caninum.

Heartworm

What causes heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworms are found in the heart and adjacent large blood vessels of infected dogs. One dog may have as many as 300 worms.

How do dogs get infected with heartworm?

The disease is not spread directly from dog to dog. An intermediate host, the mosquito, is required for transmission. Adult heartworms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart, which causes reduction of the blood supply to other organs of the body. It takes a number of years before dogs show outward signs of infection. The disease is seldom diagnosed in a dog less than one year of age because the young worms (larvae) take up five to seven months to mature after infection. The most obvious signs are a soft, dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina.

Can dogs be treated for heartworms?

YES!! There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare. Consult your veterinarian about this. We can now successfully treat more than 95% of dogs with heartworms.
How can I prevent my dog from getting heartworm (again)?
With safe and affordable heart preventives available today, no pet should ever have to endure this dreaded disease when prevention is started at a young age. When a dog has been successfully treated for heartworms, it is essential to begin a heartworm prevention program to prevent future recurrence.

Ticks

How does a dog get infected with Ehrlichia?

Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease of dogs and is transmitted to dogs through the bite of infected ticks; the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, is the main reservoir of the organism in nature. The disease seems to be particularly severe in German shepherds and Doberman pinchers. Ehrlichia canis is the most common rickettsial species involved in ehrlichiosis in dogs.

What are the signs of Ehrlichiosis?

Dogs are likely to develop a host of problems: anemia (reduced number of red blood cells, hemoglobin or both), thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets, the blood clotting cells), bleeding episodes, lameness, eye problems (including hemorrhage into the eyes), neurological problems, and swollen limbs. If the bone marrow (site of blood cell production) fails, the dog becomes unable to manufacture any of the blood cells necessary to sustain life (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets).

How is Ehrlichiosis diagnosed?

It may be difficult to diagnose infected dogs during the very early stages of infection. The immune system usually takes two to three weeks to respond to the presence of the organism and develop antibodies. The most common clinical sign of anemia is a loss of the normal pink color of the gingivae (gums). Anemic dogs also have little stamina so they seem very listless or tired. Pale gums and lethargy indicate the need to perform blood tests.

Can anything be done to prevent Ehrlichia infection?

Ridding the dog’s environment of ticks is the most effective means of prevention.

How is Ehrlichiosis treated?

Dogs experiencing severe anemia or bleeding problems may require a blood transfusion. However, this does nothing to treat the underlying disease. The main purpose of a blood transfusion is to stabilize the dog long enough that a determination of the cause of the anemia can be made. Further treatment will be determined once the underlying disease has been diagnosed. Your veterinarian can discuss treatment options with you.

Vaccination

Which vaccines are needed in dogs?

Depending on your locality some infections may be more or less likely. The range of vaccines available includes: rabies, distemper, adenovirus/ infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, coronavirus, Lyme disease, and Bordetella bronchiseptica (see Kennel Cough). These vaccines are often available in combinations given in one dose. These combination vaccines are convenient and avoid extra ‘needles’ but sometimes separation of vaccines is advisable. Your veterinarian will advise you based on your dog’s specific requirements and will assess the relative risks based on your circumstances and advise you accordingly.

Which is better: a live or killed vaccine?

Both have advantages and disadvantages. Your veterinarian takes many circumstances into account in making the choice.

Why is more than one dose of vaccine given to puppies?

There are two reasons. First, without complicated testing it is impossible to know when a pup has lost the immunity it gets from its mother (maternal immunity). An early decline in a puppy’s maternal antibody can leave it susceptible to infection at a very young age but a strong maternal immunity can actually interfere with early vaccination causing Vaccination Failure. Second, particularly with killed vaccines, the first dose is a ‘priming’ dose, and the second dose is needed to boost the response to a higher, longer-lasting level of immunity.

Why annual revaccinations?

In most properly vaccinated dogs, the immunity should last more than a year, and often several years. However, immunity does decline with time and this decline rate varies with individuals. To maintain the best immunity in a reasonable way, annual re-vaccinations have proven very successful. Because improvements are continuously made in the vaccines we use, some do not need to be given so often, depending on individual circumstances of the pet. Your veterinarian will discuss the need and frequency of boosters for your dog.