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Guard Your Pet’s Heart: Why Prevention Just Makes Sense

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The heartworm parasite presents a serious and sometimes fatal threat to companion animals. Unfortunately, it is not difficult for your pet to be infected,  and it’s difficult to treat in dogs. There is no heartworm treatment for cats.

The main route of heartworm transmission to dogs and cats is through a mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites an infected animal such as a dog, cat, coyote, fox, or wolf, its takes in larvae from baby worms. The larvae develop into mature heartworm over the next 10 to 14 days. If the mosquito lives that long, it will bite again and transmit heartworm to an unprotected pet or wild animal.

Signs of Heartworm Infestation in Dogs and Cats

It’s common for animals with heartworm not to show any symptoms in the earliest stages. As the heartworms continue to grow and multiply, it will eventually cause your pet significant distress. The most common symptoms in dogs include:

  • A mild but persistent cough
  • Fatigue after only moderate exercise
  • Resistance to exercise
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Heart failure
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Dark-colored urine

The last five symptoms represent serious infestation. Most dogs will not survive at this point without surgical removal of the heartworms.

With our feline friends, the first indication of heartworm is often sudden collapse and death. Those who don’t progress that quickly may display some of these symptoms:

  • Coughing or asthma
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite and weight loss
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

Heartworm Treatment is Long and Expensive

If your dog tests positive for heartworm, you will need to restrict exercise right away. This means you need to prevent him from engaging in regular physical activities as well. The next step is to stabilize your dog over the course of several months before our veterinarians can begin administering medication. Your dog then takes one or more rounds of medication approved by the American Heartworm Society. The last step is for your dog to receive a test approximately six months after administration of the last dose of heartworm medication to ensure that he is free of the parasite.

Although no heartworm medication currently exists for cats, we may be able to provide your cat with supportive care such as IV fluids and antibiotics. You will also need to ensure that your cat avoids strenuous physical activity at home. Some heartworm issues resolve on their own in cats since they don’t make an ideal host. However, many cats die from the parasite or have permanent health issues such as asthma.

If one compares the average cost of heartworm prevention ($5.00-10.00 per month) vs. treatment (up to $2000), not to mention overall impact of heartworm infection to your pet’s health, it’s clear to see that prevention simply makes sense. Why put your pet through the discomfort or potential long term health risks when heartworm prevention is affordable and effective?

Prevention is Much Easier

At Country Club Pet Hospital, we follow guidelines from the American Heartworm Society that people should provide their dogs and cats with year-round heartworm prevention. We encourage you to shop in our online storefor prevention products or to ask us for a recommendation. We even offer an option where you can purchase your preventive medications one month at a time, shipped to you, on schedule. It’s easy to remember when your medication arrives right to your doorstep! For a limited time, you can also receive a rebate when you purchase Heartgard, Nexgard, or Frontlineheartworm prevention products for your pet.

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Preserving The Pearly Whites

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Did you know that it’s National Pet Dental Health Month? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) started this awareness campaign several years ago to alert people about the importance of caring for their pet’s oral health. Although most pet owners take excellent care of their dog or cat, many often overlook tooth brushing and scheduling regular professional cleanings. The result is that 80 percent of companion animals have some form of dental disease by the time they reach age three. The Country Club Pet Hospital veterinary team encourages you to strongly consider the importance of dental health for your pet.

BAD BREATH IN PETS IS NO LAUGHING MATTER

It’s a common joke among pet owners that they love their dog or cat’s kisses despite the terrible breath that comes with them. Unfortunately, bad breath is one of the first signs that your pet could have periodontal disease. Oral chews can help disguise bad breath, but eliminating it and preventing periodontal disease requires regular dental care.
Left untreated, periodontal disease can destroy the bone of your pet’s teeth and eventually cause tooth loss. This condition, also called gum disease, occurs when plaque, tartar, and bacteria build-up and attack your pet’s gum tissues. Once the teeth are gone or badly worn, it is painfully difficult for your pet to chew his food and get the nutrition he needs to stay healthy.
Other indications that your pet could have periodontal disease include excessive drooling, deeply set stains on the teeth, and reluctance or refusal to eat due to pain. Periodontal disease can range from mild to severe. The good news is that it might be reversible with immediate intervention. Please ask our veterinary team for a recommendation for specific products.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT AN ORAL EVALUATION AND CLEANING

Our staff uses anesthesia during a dental health exam to make sure that your pet remains comfortable and doesn’t experience stress. We use special veterinary dental tools to remove plaque and tartar that sits both above and below her gum line. The next step is to polish your pet’s teeth from the outside. Finally, we apply fluoride to strengthen the enamel of your pet’s teeth and guard against the future buildup of plaque and tartar.

CARING FOR YOUR PET’S TEETH AT HOME

If you can’t brush your dog or cat’s teeth daily, at least try for several days each week. Start the process slowly by purchasing a species-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste from our online store. Hold these items in your hand and allow you pet to lick and sniff them. The next day, put the toothbrush in your pet’s mouth for a few seconds so he gets used to them. You can then work up to brushing for a few seconds until you’re able to reach a full two minutes. In our online store, we carry all of the items you’ll need for keeping your pet’s smile bright!

We understand that some dogs and cats will resist having their teeth brushed. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (817) 477-4143 if you need additional help with the process.

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In It Together – Devoted Resolutions

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It’s a new year, and you have vowed to get in shape and improve your health. Although you might have made this resolution before only to fall back into old habits before the end of January, you mean it this time. The good news is that having a pet gives you even more motivation to achieve better health. Not only does the love of your furry companion give you the incentive to take better care of yourself, but it encourages you to improve your pet’s health as well.

COMMIT TO PET HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN 2018

While you can make decisions about what you eat and whether you’re going to exercise, your pet depends on you to decide such things for her. For example, she has no control over what you pour into her food dish. Ultimately, it’s up to you to set the pace and expectations for both yourself and your pet. Here are five pet wellness tips to keep in mind for 2018:

  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight to avoid the risk of diabetes, heart disease, joint pain, and other common health problems. If your pet is already overweight or obese, speak to us at Country Club Pet Hospital before switching her diet. We are happy to recommend a low-calorie food that still offers all the nutrients your pet needs.
  • Bring your adult pet in once a year and your dog or cat over age seven in twice a year for a preventive care exam. Pets age significantly faster than we do, which means your seven-year-old dog or cat is already middle-aged. A lot can happen with your pet’s health in a year that might otherwise go unnoticed without the exam. It’s also a chance to ask questions about behavior, diet, parasite protection, and any other concerns that you might have.
  • Spay or neuter all pets over six months old. It reduces pet overpopulation, decreases the risk of ovarian or testicular cancer, curbs aggressive behavior, and offers several other health benefits.
  • Don’t forget about the importance of good oral healthcare for pets. Gum disease can lead to loss of bone and teeth that makes it difficult for your dog or cat to eat because she can’t chew her food properly. We recommend daily brushing at home and proactive dental care. At your pet’s examination, we may suggest a professional veterinary dental procedure.
  • Microchip your pet to increase the chances of a happy reunion if she gets lost.

MAKE FITNESS FUN THIS WINTER

Cats should stay indoors in the winter, but that doesn’t mean they should just sleep away the day. Be sure to rotate your cat’s toys regularly and engage in play with her to keep her mind sharp and body healthy. Food mazes or food puzzles are perfect to help enrich your cat’s environment and keep obesity at bay.

Dogs who don’t get regular exercise in the winter can become hyperactive and destructive. Unless it’s dangerously cold outside, bundle up and go for at least a short walk every day. You may need to put a sweater on your dog for warmth or booties to protect her paws from chemicals and the discomfort of walking on the cold pavement. While you might not appreciate having to leave your warm house, it’s great exercise for both of you and it helps to strengthen your bond as well.

Happy New Year from all of us at Country Club Pet Hospital!

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The Greatest Gifts

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LOOKING FOR A SPECIAL GIFT FOR YOUR PET?

Your pet is a loved and valuable member of your family, so it only makes sense that you want to buy him a special holiday gift. If you decide on a toy, we at Country Club Pet Hospital would like to remind you of the following important safety considerations:

  • Your pet’s size: This is especially important when purchasing a chewable toy. A squeaky toy ball, for example, would be fine for a cat but not a large dog due to the potential choking hazard.
  • Stuffing material: Beads, foam, and other stuffing material could come loose from the toy if your pet bites it or tears it apart. If you choose a stuffed toy, be sure to supervise your pet until you know how she will react to it.
  • Attachments to toys: Items like ties, ribbons, plastic eyes, and even stitches can easily come loose and present a choking hazard to your dog or cat. You may want to consider removing these items first if your pet is especially rambunctious with toys.

Additionally, be sure to teach your pet which items belong to him as toys and which he should leave alone. You can reinforce the idea of safe toys by praising your pet every time he takes one of his own toys out to play with and redirect him when he tries to chew on or play with something belonging to another family member. It’s especially important to pet-proof during the holiday season so your dog or cat doesn’t get into office supplies, electronics, your children’s toys, or anything else he’s curious about but that could ultimately hurt him.

ORDER PET TOYS OR TREATS ONLINE THIS YEAR

Have you had a chance to visit our online store yet? You can complete holiday shopping for your pet with just a few clicks. Best of all, we guarantee that our pet toys and treats for stocking stuffers are safe and appropriate for your dog or cat. You save time, gas money, and fighting crowds at the mall. It’s a win for everyone! Visit our online store to find the perfect gift.

TIME: THE BEST GIFT OF ALL

Sometimes all your pet wants and needs is something that you can’t wrap or put under a tree. It’s the gift of your time and attention. During this busy and stressful season, pet owners sometimes forget to engage with their dog or cat in favor of checking one more thing off a to-do list. This can cause your pet to act out, which only adds to your stress level. Pause, (or should we say, “paws”!) and take a little extra time to spend time snuggling or walking your pet. You’ll both enjoy the extra time together!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (817) 477-4143 if you have additional pet care concerns this holiday season. Happy Holidays from all of us at Country Club Pet Hospital!

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Silver Muzzles & Golden Years

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A baby’s first birthday is a bittersweet milestone for parents because it’s hard to believe how much their son or daughter changed in just a year. When compared with the lifespan of our pets, it’s important to note that our pets age more quickly than we do. Although our pets reach their “golden years” at varying times based on breed, size, and species, at Country Club Pet Hospital we recommend bi-annual preventive care exams starting when your pet reaches his senior years. Because of pet’s accelerated aging, new health concerns can appear in very subtle ways, and early detection is the key to keeping your pet as healthy as possible.

MOST COMMON HEALTH CONDITIONS OF OLDER PETS

Dogs and cats experience many of the same age-related health conditions that people do. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the most prevalent ones include:

Cancer: Cancer is the number one killer of both dogs and cats over age 10, with mast cell tumors most common in dogs and leukemia in cats. Some signs that your older pet could have cancer include slow-healing wounds, behavior changes, weight loss, fatigue, and lack of appetite.

Kidney disease: Healthy kidneys are essential for proper waste elimination. When the kidneys become diseased, your pet’s urine and feces remain trapped inside her body. This can cause significant pain, vomiting, weight loss, incontinence, and greater thirst.

Diabetes: Pets are becoming just as inactive and obese as people are. In fact, more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. This increases the risk of diabetes, but a pet doesn’t have to weigh too much to develop the disease. Some signs to look for include increased thirst, increased urination, irritability, fatigue, weight loss, and vision disturbances.

Arthritis: Your pet can develop arthritis when cartilage, which acts as a cushioning between bones, starts to wear down. This results in the bones rubbing together and causing pain. You may notice that your dog or cat uses some limbs at the exclusion of others, walks with a stiff gait, seems reluctant to jump, or vocalizes loudly when you pick him up.

Senility: Mild cognitive impairment is so common in the senior years that approximately half of all dogs and cats show some signs of it. You may notice a change in personality or a regression in previously learned skills. It’s important to remain patient and not punish your pet for something she can’t control.

MAXIMIZE YOUR PET’S HEALTH IN THE SENIOR YEARS

Unlike people who can voice their discomfort, animals have a natural tendency to hide when they feel sick or in pain. Regular preventive care is essential because it allows us to detect health issues you could easily miss. Between appointments, you can improve your pet’s quality of life with joint medication, supplements, toys to keep cognition sharp, and many other supplies from our online store. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (817) 477-4143 with questions about senior pet care or to schedule an appointment.

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