Hancock Animal Hospital

  

Hancock Animal Hospital

55 Hancock Street

N. Quincy, MA 02171

Hancock Animal Hospital

617-773-0008

"Where your pets are treated like family"

 

 

Current Topics for Your Pets

 

 

 

LYME DISEASE UPDATE

 

 

Canine PARVO Update (August 2014)

 

1)  Pain Control in Dogs

2) Household Toxins and Poisoning

3) External Parasites

4) Internal Parasites

5) Feline Urinary Tract Problems

6) Heartworm Disease

7) Traveling with your Pet

8) Euthanasia and Grief- the hardest decision

9) Vaccinations

 

LYME DISEASE UPDATE

 

Tick on a leaf

 

We are seeing a significant amount of ticks on dogs this year with many having exposure to Lyme disease.

 

This is some information on lyme disease:

 

At this time we are recommending monthly flea/tick preventative, daily tick checks and the lyme vaccine for many canine patients.

 

Ticks? Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of mammals, including people, dogs and cats.  The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), examples of ticks that commonly affect dogs, require three feedings to complete their life cycles.

How Are Ticks Transmitted to Dogs?
Ticks are most active in from spring through fall and live in tall brush or grass. These parasites prefer to stay close to the head, neck, feet and ear area. In severe infestations, however, they can be found anywhere on a dog’s body.

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Ticks?
Ticks are visible to the naked eye. During the warmer months, it’s a good idea to check your dog daily for these parasites. If you do spot a tick, it is important to take care when removing it. Any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your dog or even to you! Treat the area with rubbing alcohol and pluck the parasite with tweezers, making sure you’ve gotten the biting head and other body parts. Since it may only take a few hours for disease to be transmitted from an attached tick, it is ideal for your dog to be evaluated by your veterinarian soon after any ticks are found.

Are Ticks Common in this Area?
Ticks can be found all over the world. In New England we have one of the highest tick infestation rates.

What Are Some Complications Associated with Ticks in Dogs?

bulletLimping
bulletLethargy (acting sick)
bulletSwollen Joints
bulletBlood loss
bulletInternal Organ Problems (liver/kidneys)
bulletAnemia
bulletTick paralysis
bulletSkin irritation or infection

Ticks can also transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, all of which can cause serious disease and are potentially fatal without appropriate treatment.

My Dog Has Been Bitten by a Tick! What Should I Do?
Remove the tick, as noted above, and consult with your veterinarian, who will help you to prevent future infestation. Your vet may also perform blood tests to rule out diseases transmitted by ticks.

What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can affect humans, dogs, cats and other mammals. Its primary carrier is the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), which often feeds on rodents in its early stages. Later, the tick can attach to a dog or human and transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Clinical signs include depression, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite and fever, as well as lameness and swollen, painful joints. Renal failure can also be a consequence of Lyme disease.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Lyme Disease?
Bring your pet to a veterinarian, who will evaluate your dog for Lyme disease. This includes a physical exam, blood tests and other testing.

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?
Your veterinarian can best determine the optimal treatment plan for your dog. Canine Lyme disease is most often effectively treated with antibiotics. With prompt, proper treatment, your dog’s condition should start to improve within 48 hours.

How Can I Prevent Tick Infestation?
Many of the same products on the market that treat fleas also kill ticks and protect against future infestation. These topical treatments are especially recommended for those dogs who live in areas with high tick populations. Speak to your vet to select the best product for your dog.

The key to any successful tick control program lies, literally, in your own backyard. Ensure a tick-free lawn by mowing it regularly, removing tall weeds and making it inhospitable to rodents by keeping garbage covered and inaccessible.

 

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Canine PARVO Update (August 2014)

 

There have been reported cases of Canine PARVO infections in the Boston area. We STRONGLY recommending this vaccination for all dogs.

 

Canine Parvovirus*

The "Distemper" vaccination that we use is a combination vaccine that includes protection from Parvo. Dogs that are current with the distemper/parvo vaccination are at very low risk for contracting the Parvo Virus. If your dog is a patient of our and you have any questions as to the vaccine status of your pet, please feel free to call us at 617-773-0008. A vaccination booster is always available.


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Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are at the most at risk. Dogs that are ill from canine parvovirus infection are often said to have "parvo." The virus affects dogs' gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of stool containing parvovirus may infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. It can be transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.

Signs of parvovirus

Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy; loss of appetite; fever; vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment

While no specific drug is available that will kill the virus in infected dogs, treatment consists primarily of efforts to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections until the dog’s immune system is able to fight the virus. Due to the highly contagious nature of parvovirus, infected dogs must be isolated in order to prevent the spread of the infection.

Preventing parvovirus

The best way to prevent parvovirus is through good hygiene and vaccination. Make sure to get your puppies vaccinated, and that your adult dogs are kept up to date on their parvovirus vaccination. Talk to your veterinarian about a canine parvovirus vaccination plan that is best for your pet. Until a puppy has received its complete series of vaccinations, pet owners should use caution when bringing their pet to places where young puppies or dogs with unknown vaccination histories congregate.

If you have any questions, please call Hancock Animal Hospital at 617-773-0008.

 

 

 

 

Treating Pain in Your Dog: Keeping your best friend active, safe, and pain free*
Controlling your dog's pain is essential to his/her overall well-being. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs commonly used to control pain and inflammation in dogs and people. NSAIDs help many dogs lead more comfortable lives.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs help to control signs of arthritis and pain, including inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. Inflammation—the body's response to irritation or injury—is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, chemicals produced by the body that cause inflammation. Some NSAIDs may also be used to control the pain and inflammation following surgery.

Your veterinarian may prescribe an NSAID to treat the pain of arthritis in your dog or to control pain.

Veterinary NSAIDs approved for use in dogs:

bulletETOGESIC (etodolac)
bulletRIMADYL (carprofen)
bulletMETACAM (meloxicam)
bulletDERAMAXX (deracoxib)
bulletPREVICOX (firocoxib)
bulletZUBRIN (tepoxalin)
bulletNOVOX (carprofen)

What should you discuss with your veterinarian?

NSAIDs offer pain relief and improved quality of life to many dogs. However, before giving an NSAID, or any drug, you should first talk to your veterinarian. You should discuss:

bulletwhat the NSAID is being prescribed for
bullethow much to give
bullethow long to give it
bulletpossible side effects
bulletwhat to avoid while your dog is taking an NSAID
bulletwhat tests are needed before giving an NSAID to your dog
bullethow often should your dog be re-examined
bulletyour dog's previous medical history and any previous drug reactions
bulletall medications and products your dog currently receives

What should you know before giving your dog an NSAID?

bulletNever give aspirin or corticosteroids (i.e. prednisone) along with an NSAID to your dog.
bulletMonitoring Bloodwork on a routine basis is very important on these medications.
bulletNSAIDs should be approached cautiously in dogs with serious kidney, liver, heart and intestinal problems.
bulletNever give your dog an NSAID unless directed by your veterinarian.
bulletDon't assume an NSAID for one dog is safe to give to another dog. Always consult your veterinarian before using any medication in your pet.
bulletOnly give the NSAID as prescribed by your veterinarian. Do not increase the dose, the frequency, or the length of time you use the drug unless first discussing this with your veterinarian.

What Side Effects should you watch for?

Most NSAID-side effects are mild, but some can be serious. Common side effects seen with the use of NSAIDs in dogs may affect the kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract and may include:

bulletNot eating or eating less
bulletLethargy, depression, changes in behavior
bulletVomiting
bulletDiarrhea, black tarry-colored stool
bulletYellowing of gums, skin, or the whites of the eyes
bulletChange in drinking
bulletChanges in skin (scabs, redness, or scratching)

When giving  NSAID, Remember these Signs:

bulletBehavior Changes
bulletEating Less
bulletSkin Redness, Scabs
bulletTarry Stool / Diarrhea / Vomiting

What to do?

If you suspect a possible side effect to an NSAID, STOP giving the drug to your dog and call your veterinarian immediately.

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If you have any questions, please call Hancock Animal Hospital at 617-773-0008.

 

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Household Hazards to Pets*
****If your pet may have ingested a toxin call Hancock Animal Hospital at  617-773-0008, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center  1-888-426-4435 or www.apcc.aspca.org
 
Every home contains a variety of everyday items and substances that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. You can protect your pet's health by becoming aware of the most common health hazards found in many pet-owning households.

HAZARDS IN THE KITCHEN

Foods
Many foods that are perfectly safe for humans could be harmful or potentially deadly to dogs and cats. To be safe, keep the following food items out of your pet's menu:

coffee grounds grapes/raisins
chocolate onions
yeast dough tea
macadamia nuts alcohol
fatty foods salt
avocado garlic
chewing gum, candy and breath fresheners containing xylitol

Always keep garbage out of a pet's reach, as rotting food contains molds or bacteria that could produce food poisoning.

Cleaning Products
Many household cleaners can be used safely around cats and dogs. However, the key to safe use lies in reading and following product directions for proper use and storage.

For instance, if the label states "keep pets and children away from area until dry," follow those directions to prevent possible health risks. Products containing bleach can safely disinfect many household surfaces when used properly, but can cause stomach upset, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, severe burns if swallowed and respiratory tract irritation can occur if inhaled in a high enough concentration. In addition, skin contact with concentrated solutions may produce serious chemical burns. Some detergents can produce a similar reaction, and cats can be particularly sensitive to certain ingredients such as phenols.

As a general rule, store all cleaning products in a secure cabinet out of the reach of pets and keep them in their original packaging, or in a clearly labeled and tightly sealed container.

Insecticides/Rodenticides (i.e. rat/mice poison, ant bait)
As with household cleaners, read and follow label instructions before using any type of pesticide in your pet's environment. For example, flea and tick products labeled "for use on dogs only" should not be applied to cats or other species, as serious or even life-threatening problems could result. Always consult with your veterinarian about the safe use of these products for your pet.

If a pet ingests rat or mouse poison, potentially serious or even life-threatening illness can result; therefore, when using any rodenticide, it is important to place the poison in areas completely inaccessible to pets.

HAZARDS IN THE BATHROOM

Medications
Medications that treat human medical conditions can make pets very sick. Never give your pet any medication unless directed by your veterinarian. As a rule, the following medicines should be tightly closed and stored in a secure cabinet above the counter and away from pets:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen
acetaminophen diet pills antihistamines
cold medicines vitamins antidepressants
prescription drugs

other meds

 

Soaps and other Sundries
Bath and hand soaps, toothpaste and sun blocks should also be kept away from your pets. They can cause stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea. Keep toilet lids closed to prevent your pets from consuming treated toilet bowl water that could irritate their digestive tract.

HAZARDS IN THE BEDROOM AND LIVING ROOM

While they may smell good, many liquid potpourri products contain ingredients that can cause oral ulcerations and other problems, so keep them out of the reach of your pets.

Just one mothball has the potential to sicken a dog or cat and mothballs that contain naphthalene can cause serious illness, including digestive tract irritation, liver, kidney and blood cell damage, swelling of the brain tissues, seizures, coma, respiratory tract damage (if inhaled) and even death (if ingested). Tobacco products, pennies (those minted after 1982 contain zinc) and alkaline batteries (like those in your remote controls) can also be hazardous when ingested.

HAZARDS IN THE GARAGE AND YARD

Antifreeze, Herbicides and Insecticides
Ethylene glycol-containing antifreeze and coolants, even in small quantities, can be fatal to both dogs and cats. While antifreeze products containing propylene glycol are less toxic than those containing ethylene glycol, they can still be dangerous. In addition to antifreeze, other substances routinely stored in the garage including insecticides, plant/lawn fertilizers, weed killers, ice-melting products and gasoline also pose a threat to your pet's health if ingested.

When chemical treatments are applied to grassy areas, be sure and keep your pet off the lawn for the manufacturer's recommended time. If pets are exposed to wet chemicals or granules that adhere to their paws, they may lick it off later; stomach upset or more serious problems could result.

Paints and Solvents
Paint thinners, mineral spirits, and other solvents are dangerous and can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or if they come in contact with your pet's skin. While most latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach upset, some types of artist's or other specialty paints may contain heavy metals or volatile substances that could become harmful if inhaled or ingested.

Plants – Inside or Around the House
There are many household and yard plants that can sicken your pet. Some of the most commonly grown greenery that should be kept away from pets include:

bulletLily of the Valley, oleander, azalea, yew, foxglove, rhododendron and kalanchoe may cause heart problems if ingested.

bulletRhubarb leaves and shamrock contain substances that can produce kidney failure. Certain types of lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are highly toxic to cats, resulting in kidney failure — even if only small amounts are ingested.

bulletSago palms (Cycad species) can cause liver damage, especially if the nut portion of the plant is consumed. Additionally, fungi such as certain varieties of mushrooms can cause liver damage or other illnesses.

A few other potentially harmful plants include philodendron, corn plant, castor bean, mother-in-law's tongue, Hibiscus and hydrangea.

For a complete listing of common toxic and non-toxic plants, visit www.apcc.aspca.org.

OTHER HOUSEHOLD HAZARDS

Small items that fall on the floor can be easily swallowed by a curious cat or dog. Such items include coins, buttons, small children's toys, medicine bottles, jewelry, nails, and screws. The result may be damage to your pet's digestive tract and the need for surgical removal of the object.

While electrical cords are especially tempting to puppies who like to chew on almost anything, even an adult dog or cat could find them of interest; burns or electrocution could result from chewing on live cords. Prevent this by using cord covers and blocking access to wires.

HOLIDAY HAZARDS

Don't forget that holidays and visitors can pose a special challenge to your pets. Discourage well-meaning guests from spoiling pets with extra treats and scraps from the dinner table. Fatty, rich or spicy foods can cause vomiting and diarrhea and lead to inflammation of the pancreas. Poultry or other soft bones can splinter and damage your pet's mouth or esophagus.

While trick or treating is fun for children, it can be hazardous to pets. Halloween treats such as chocolate or candy sweetened with xylitol can make a harmful snack. Certain Halloween and Christmas decorations (especially tinsel, ribbons and ornaments) also pose a hazard to pets, so make sure nothing is left on the floor or on tables within reach.

String-like items can damage your pet's intestine and could prove fatal if not surgically removed. While poinsettia is not deadly as popular legend would have it, it could still cause an upset stomach if consumed. Holly and mistletoe are especially dangerous plants. Christmas tree water treated with preservatives (including fertilizers) can also cause an upset stomach. Water that is allowed to stagnate in tree stands contains bacteria that, if ingested, could lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

A Special Note of Caution to Bird Owners
Just like dogs and cats, most hazards listed here apply to your pet bird, particularly if it is allowed to roam freely outside of its cage. In addition, birds have unique respiratory tracts that are especially vulnerable to inhaled particles and fumes from aerosol products, tobacco products, certain glues, paints, air fresheners and any other aerosolized matter. Birds should never be allowed in areas where such products are being used. As a rule, birds should never be kept in kitchens because cooking fumes, smoke and odors can present a hazard.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PET IS POISONED
Don't wait! Time is critical for successfully treating accidental poisoning. Pick up the phone and call Hancock Animal Hospital at  617-773-0008, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435 or www.apcc.aspca.org; a consultation fee may apply). Be prepared to state your pet's breed, age, weight and any symptoms. Keep the product container or plant sample with you to assist in identification so the appropriate treatment recommendations can be made.

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If you have any questions, please call Hancock Animal Hospital at 617-773-0008.

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What you should know about external parasites*
At some point in their lives, many pets experience discomfort caused by external parasites such as fleas, ticks, or mites on their skin or in their ears. These parasites can be extremely irritating to pets and can cause serious skin problems and can carry diseases. Although this provides basic information about the most common external parasites, your veterinarian is your best source of advice regarding your pet's needs. Modern medicines make treatment, control, and prevention of many external parasites much easier than in the past.

Fleas

Flea Basics
Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid. Depending on your climate, fleas may be a seasonal or year-round problem. Your pet can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other cats and dogs. Adult fleas are dark brown, no bigger than a sesame seed, and able to move rapidly over your pet's skin.

Adult fleas live their entire lives on your pet. Female fleas begin laying eggs within 24 hours of selecting your pet as a host, producing up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall from your pet onto the floor or furniture, including your pet's bed, or onto any other indoor or outdoor area where your pet happens to go. Tiny, worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs and burrow into carpets, under furniture, or into soil before spinning a cocoon. The cocooned flea pupae can lie dormant (inactive) for weeks to months before emerging as adults that are ready to infest (or re-infest) your pet. The result is a flea life cycle of anywhere from 12 days to 12 months.

Risks and Consequences
You may not know that your pet has fleas until their number increases to the point that your pet is obviously uncomfortable. Signs of flea problems range from mild redness to severe scratching that can lead to open sores and skin infections. One of the first things you may notice on a pet with fleas is "flea dirt" — the black flea droppings left on your pet's coat.

Fleas bite animals and suck their blood; young or small pets with heavy flea infestations may become anemic (low red blood cells). Some pets can develop an allergy to flea saliva that may result in more severe irritation and scratching. Also, pets can become infected with certain types of tapeworms if they ingest fleas carrying tapeworm eggs. In areas with moderate to severe flea infestations, people may also be bitten by fleas. While fleas are capable of transmitting several other infectious diseases to pets and people, this is rare.

Treatment and Control
Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate flea control plan for your pet based upon your needs and the severity of the flea infestation.

Fleas spend a lot of their time off of your pet and in the environment. In addition to treating your pet, reduce the flea population in your house by thoroughly cleaning your pet's sleeping quarters and vacuuming floors and furniture that your pet comes in contact with frequently. Careful and regular vacuuming/cleaning of the pet's living area helps to remove and kill flea eggs, larvae, and pupae. You may also have to treat your house with insecticides to kill the fleas; consult with your veterinarian about products that may work best for you. Selecting a professional exterminator is many times the best choice to treat the environment and this is always recommended. Make sure you select an exterminator that offers a good guarantee.

With moderate and severe flea infestations, you may be advised to treat your yard in addition to treating the inside of your home. Your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate course of action and suggest ways to prevent future flea infestations.

Ticks

Tick Basics
Hosting a tick is the price dogs or, less commonly, cats may pay for investigating shrubbery, brush, or wild undergrowth. Ticks have a four-stage life cycle, and immature ticks often feed on small, wild animals found in forests, prairies, and brush. Adult ticks seek larger hosts like dogs and cats who venture into these habitats. Tick exposure may be seasonal, depending on geographic location.

Risks and Consequences
Ticks are most often found around your dog's neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face. Tick bites can cause skin irritation and heavy infestations can cause anemia in pets. Ticks are also capable of spreading serious infectious diseases (such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, E.Canis, and others) to the pets and the people on which they feed. Disease risk varies by geographic area and tick species.

Treatment and Control
Prompt removal of ticks is very important because it lessens the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your pet. Remove ticks by carefully using tweezers to firmly grip the tick as close to the pet's skin as possible and gently pulling the tick free without twisting it. After removing the tick, crush it while avoiding contact with tick fluids that can carry disease. Do not attempt to smother the tick with alcohol or petroleum jelly, or apply a hot match to it, as this may cause the tick to regurgitate saliva into the wound, increasing the risk of disease.

Pets at risk for ticks should be treated during the tick season with an appropriate tick preventative. Your veterinarian can recommend a product best suited to your pet's needs. Owners who take their pets to tick-prone areas during camping, sporting, or hiking trips should examine their pets for ticks immediately upon returning home and remove them from their pets. If your pet picks up ticks in your backyard, trimming bushes and removing brush may reduce your pet's exposure to tick habitats.

Ear Mites

Mite Basics
Ear mites are common in young cats and dogs, and generally confine themselves to the ears and surrounding area. Mites are tiny and individual mites may be seen only with the aid of a microscope. Your pet can pick up ear mites by close contact with an infested pet or its bedding.

Risks and Consequences
Ear mites can cause intense irritation of the ear canal. Signs of ear mite infestation include excessive head shaking and scratching of the ears. Your pet may scratch to the point that it creates bleeding sores around its ears. A brown or black ear discharge is common with ear mite infections.

Treatment and Control
Treatment of ear mites involves thorough ear cleaning and medication. Your veterinarian can recommend an effective treatment plan.

Sarcoptic Mange Mites

Mite Basics
Microscopic sarcoptic mange mites cause sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. Sarcoptic mange mites affect dogs of all ages, during any time of the year. Sarcoptic mange mites are highly contagious to other dogs and may be passed by close contact with infested animals, bedding, or grooming tools.

Risks and Consequences
Sarcoptic mange mites burrow through the top layer of the dog's skin and cause intense itching. Clinical signs include generalized hair loss, a skin rash, and crusting. Skin infections may develop secondary to the intense irritation. People who come in close contact with an affected dog may develop a skin rash and should see their physician.

Treatment and Control
Dogs with sarcoptic mange require medication to kill the mites and additional treatment to soothe the skin and resolve related infections. Cleaning and treatment of the dog's environment is also necessary.

Demodectic Mange Mites

Mite Basics
Demodectic mange caused by demodectic mange mites is mainly a problem in dogs. Demodectic mange mites are microscopic, cigar-shaped, and not highly contagious. A mother dog, however, may pass the mites to her puppies.

Risks and Consequences
Localized demodectic mange tends to appear in young dogs as patches of scaly skin and redness around the eyes and mouth and, perhaps, the legs and trunk. Unlike other types of mange, demodectic mange may signal an underlying medical condition, and your pet's overall health should be carefully evaluated. Less commonly, young and old dogs experience a generalized form of demodectic mange and can exhibit widespread patches of redness, hair loss, and scaly, thickened skin.

Treatment and Control
Your veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment of dogs with localized demodectic mange generally results in favorable outcomes. Generalized demodectic mange (demodecosis), however, may be difficult to treat, and treatment may only control the condition, rather than cure it.

Important Points:

bulletLook for fleas, ticks, and coat abnormalities any time you groom your dog or cat or when you return home from areas that are likely to have higher numbers of these parasites.
bulletSee your veterinarian if your pet excessively scratches, chews, or licks its haircoat, or persistently shakes its head. These clinical signs may indicate the presence of external parasites or other conditions requiring medical care.
bulletPrompt treatment of parasites lessens your pet's discomfort, decreases the chances of disease transmission from parasite to pet, and may reduce the degree of home infestation.
bulletDiscuss the health of all family pets with your veterinarian when one pet becomes infested. Some parasites cycle among pets, making control of infestations difficult unless other pets are considered. Consult your veterinarian before beginning treatment.
bulletTell your veterinarian if you have attempted any parasite remedies, as this may impact your veterinarian's recommendation.
bulletBe especially careful when applying insecticides to cats, as cats are particularly sensitive to these products. Never use a product that is not approved for cats, as the results could be lethal.
bulletFollow label directions carefully.
bulletLeave treatment to the experts. Your veterinarian offers technical expertise and can assist you in identifying products that are most likely to effectively and safely control your pet's parasite problem.

If you have any questions, please call Hancock Animal Hospital at 617-773-0008.  Home Page

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Internal parasites in cats and dogs*
Most internal parasites are worms and single-celled organisms that can exist in the intestines of dogs or cats. The most common worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Common single-cell parasites are coccidia and Giardia.

What are roundworms and how are they spread?

Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in dogs and cats in the world. Animals with roundworms pass the infection to other animals when the worm eggs develop into larvae and are present in the animal's feces (droppings). Your pet can pick up the infection by eating infected soil, licking contaminated fur or paws, or by drinking contaminated water.

Infected female dogs may pass the infection to their puppies before birth or afterwards when they are nursing. Infected female cats cannot infect their kittens before birth, but can pass on the infection through their milk when kittens are nursing.

What are the health risks to pets and people?

Puppies and kittens are the most prone to roundworm infection. Because roundworms live in the small intestine, they steal the nutrients from the food your pet eats and that can lead to malnutrition and intestinal problems. As the larvae move through your pet's body, young animals may develop serious respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

Roundworm infections are zoonotic (pronounced zoe-oh-NOT-ick) diseases, meaning that they are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. While direct contact with infected dogs and cats increases a person's risk for roundworm infection, most infections come from accidentally eating the worm larvae or from larvae that enter through the skin. For example, children are at risk for infection if they play in areas that may contain infected feces (such as dirt piles and sandboxes), and they pick up the larvae on their hands.

Left untreated, roundworms in people can cause serious health problems when the larvae enter organs and other tissues, resulting in lung, brain, or liver damage. If the roundworm larva enters the eyes, permanent, partial blindness can result.

What are hookworms and how are they spread?

Hookworms are the second most common intestinal parasites found in dogs, but they are less commonly found in cats. Your pet can become infected when larvae penetrate the animal's skin or the lining of the mouth. An infected female dog can pass the infection to her puppies through her milk, but this does not occur in cats.

What are the health risks to pets and people?

Hookworms are dangerous parasites because they actually bite into the intestinal lining of an animal and suck blood. As with roundworms, puppies and kittens are at high risk of infection and developing severe diseases. Left untreated, hookworm infections can result in potentially life-threatening blood loss, weakness, and malnutrition.

Like roundworms, hookworm infections are zoonotic, and infections usually occur by accidentally eating the larvae or by the larvae entering through the skin. In humans, hookworm infections cause health problems when the larvae penetrate the skin. The larvae produce severe itching and tunnel-like, red areas as they move through the skin and, if accidentally eaten, can cause intestinal problems.

What are whipworms and how are they spread?

These worms get their name from their whip-like shape. Animals with whipworms pass the infection along to other animals when the worm eggs develop into larvae and are passed in their feces (droppings). Your pet can pick up the infection by eating infected soil or licking their contaminated fur or paws.

What are the health risks to pets and people?

Like hookworms, whipworms bury their heads in the lining of an animal's intestine and suck blood, but they are generally less harmful and usually do not cause health problems. Occasionally, severe infections can develop and lead to diarrhea, weight loss, and blood loss. Whipworm larvae rarely infect humans when they are accidentally eaten.

What are tapeworms and how are they spread?

Tapeworms got their name because they are thin and flat, like strips of tape. Unlike the smooth-bodied roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, tapeworms' bodies are actually made up of joined segments. Dogs and cats become infected with tapeworms when they eat infected fleas or lice. They can also get certain types of tapeworms by eating infected rodents.

What are the health risks to pets and people?

Tapeworms live in the small intestine and steal the nutrients from the food your dog or cat eats. An infection is usually diagnosed when the eggs sacs are seen under the pet's tail or on its stool. These sacs look like flattened grains of rice. While there are several dewormers available that are effective against tapeworms, keeping your pet free of fleas is the best preventative. Rarely are tapeworms a risk to people.

How can I prevent/treat worm infections?

Healthy pets may not show outward signs of a worm infection. However, if you notice a change in your pet's appetite or coat, diarrhea, or excessive coughing, see your veterinarian. In most cases, a simple fecal test can detect the presence of worm eggs or adults and, if present, your veterinarian will recommend a deworming program. A good way to prevent worm infections is by using one of several Licensed monthly heartworm preventatives available from your veterinarian at Hancock Animal Hospital.

Nursing female dogs and cats and their litters are also major sources for the spread of infective eggs and larvae. If you have a new puppy or kitten, or a pregnant pet, consult with your veterinarian at Hancock Animal Hospitalabout a deworming program that will reduce your family's risk of infection.

Worm infections in humans can be easily prevented by practicing good hygiene and sanitation. Children should be discouraged from eating dirt and should not be allowed to play in areas that are soiled with pet feces. Sandboxes should be covered when not in use. Adults and children should always wash their hands after handling soil and after contact with pets. Shoes should be worn when outside to protect feet from larvae present in the environment, and raw vegetables should be thoroughly washed because they may contain parasites from infected soil.

Dog droppings should be immediately picked up from public areas and from your yard to reduce the chances of contaminating the soil. Keeping cats indoors is an effective way to limit their risk of exposure to roundworms.

At Hancock Animal Hospital we routinely de-worm puppies and kittens even if fecal samples are negative to help prevent these infections. 

Other internal parasites

Coccidia
Coccidia (cok-SID-ee-ah) are single-celled parasites and are not visible to the naked eye. Your pet can become infected by eating infected soil or licking contaminated paws or fur. Once swallowed, the parasites damage the lining of the intestine and your pet cannot absorb nutrients from its food. Bloody, watery diarrhea may result, and the animal may become dehydrated because it loses more water in its stool than it can replace by drinking. Young pets are most often infected because their immune systems may not yet be strong enough to fight off the parasite. Coccidia can be very contagious among young puppies and kittens, so households with multiple pets should be especially careful to practice good hygiene and sanitation.

A routine fecal test by your veterinarian will detect the presence of coccidia. Treatment with medications will prevent the parasite from multiplying and allow time for your pet's immune system to kill the parasites.

Giardia
Giardia (gee-AR-dee-ah) is also a single-celled parasite that, if swallowed, damages the lining of the intestine and reduces the absorption of nutrients from the food your pet eats. While most Giardia infections do not cause illness, severe infections can lead to diarrhea.

Giardia is harder to diagnose than other intestinal parasites, and several stool samples may have to be tested before it is found. If necessary, your veterinarian will recommend treatment with medications to eliminate the infection. Because it is highly contagious among animals, good hygiene and sanitation are important when there are multiple pets in the household.

Important points about internal parasites

bulletSee your veterinarian if your pet has diarrhea, weight loss, increased scooting, a dull coat, or if you see worms under its tail, in its bedding, or on its stool.
bulletPrompt treatment of internal parasites lessens your pet's discomfort, decreases the chances of intestinal damage, and decreases the chance that your pet will infect humans or other animals.
bulletGood hygiene and sanitation reduce the chances that your pet will infect people or animals. You can help prevent the spread of infection by always cleaning up your pet's droppings immediately.

At Hancock Animal Hospital will can go over routine and specific parasite controls that your pet may need. Please contact us with any questions 617-773-0008.                                                                Top of Page

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Feline lower urinary tract disease*
 What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD  or  FUS)?
 

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), sometimes called Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS), describes a variety of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra of cats. Cats with FLUTD most often show signs of difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine. Cats with FLUTD also tend to lick themselves excessively and may urinate outside the litter box, often on cool, smooth surfaces like a tile floor or a bathtub.

While FLUTD can occur at any age, it is usually seen in middle-aged, overweight cats that get little exercise, use an indoor litter box, have little or no outdoor access, or eat a dry diet. Factors such as emotional or environment stress, multi-cat households, and abrupt changes in daily routine may also increase the risk that a cat will develop FLUTD.

Major Signs of Lower Urinary Tract Disease include:

bulletStraining to urinate
bulletFrequent and/or prolonged attempts to urinate
bulletCrying out while urinating
bulletExcessive licking of the genital area
bulletUrinating outside the litter box
bulletBlood in the urine

Note that cats with a urethral obstruction will also show these signs but will pass little or no urine and become increasingly distressed. A urethral obstruction is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary treatment.

How is FLUTD diagnosed?

Because FLUTD has many causes, it can be difficult to diagnose. Based on your cat's symptoms, your veterinarian will do a physical examination and most likely will run a urinalysis. If the cause is still not identified, tests such as bloodwork, x-rays, and additional urine tests may be recommended.

What are the most common causes of FLUTD?

Urolithiasis (Urinary Stones)
One possible cause of FLUTD is the formation of urinary stones, also called uroliths. These are collections of minerals that form in the urinary tract of cats. X-rays or ultrasound are usually needed to diagnose urinary stones. While a special, stone-dissolving diet is often prescribed to eliminate the stones, more aggressive treatment is needed for those that cannot be dissolved through changes in diet. For example, a veterinarian may help a cat pass stones by flushing its bladder with sterile fluids. If this fails, or if stones recur, then surgery may be necessary. A veterinarian may then recommend medication or dietary changes after surgery to help prevent recurrence.

Urethral Obstruction
The most serious problem associated with urinary function is when a cat's urethra becomes partly or totally blocked. Urethral obstruction is a potentially life-threatening condition caused either by urethral stones or by urethral plugs (the latter are made of a soft material containing minerals, cells, and mucus-like protein).

Male cats (neutered or intact) are at greater risk for urethral obstruction than females because their urethra is longer and narrower. This is a true medical emergency, and any cat suspected of suffering from this condition must receive immediate veterinary attention. Once the urethra becomes completely blocked, the kidneys are no longer able to remove toxins from the blood or maintain a balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body. Without treatment, death frequently occurs when these imbalances lead to heart failure — often in less than twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

Treatment of this condition involves dislodging the obstruction, usually accomplished by flushing a sterile solution through a narrow tube placed into the urethra. Once the obstruction is removed, further treatment depends upon the condition of the cat. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are treated with intravenous fluid therapy. Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat infection, and drugs that help restore bladder function are sometimes recommended.

For cats who continue to experience urethral obstruction despite medical treatment, there is a surgical procedure called a perineal urethrostomy. Since side effects of this surgery can include bleeding, narrowing at the surgical site, urinary incontinence, and a greater incidence of other kinds of bladder diseases, it is usually considered only as a last resort.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis
Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC)—also called interstitial cystitis—is the most common diagnosis in cats with lower urinary tract disease. The disease is not fully understood and may involve several body systems in addition to the urinary system.

Stress and diet changes can increase the risk of FIC. As many as 40-50% of cats will have another episode of FIC within one year, but veterinarians cannot predict which cats will have relapses. The disease can be chronic and very frustrating for the cat, the owner, and the veterinarian. The current goals of treating cats with FIC are to decrease the severity and frequency of episodes.

What can I do at home to prevent future occurrences of FLUTD?

Fortunately, most cats recover from FLUTD. In some cats, however, the condition often reoccurs. To help reduce the chances of recurrence:

bulletFeed small meals on a frequent basis.
bulletConsult with your veterinarian about the best diet for your cat. Many commercial diets are acceptable, but many urinary conditions respond better to specialized prescription diets.
bulletProvide clean, fresh water at all times.
bulletProvide an adequate number of litter boxes (usually one more than the number of cats in the household).
bulletKeep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house.
bulletKeep litter boxes clean.
bulletMinimize major changes in routine.

If you have any questions, please call Hancock Animal Hospital at 617-773-0008.

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HEARTWORM disease*
 
Heartworm is a preventable, but serious and potentially fatal, parasite that primarily infects dogs, cats and ferrets. It can also infect a variety of wild animals, including wild canids (e.g., foxes, wolves, coyotes), wild felids (e.g. tigers, lions, pumas), raccoons, opossums, and pinnipeds (e.g., sea lions and seals), as well as others. There have been documented human infections, but they are thought to be rare and do not usually result in signs of illness.

How is heartworm disease transmitted and what does it cause?

Heartworms can only be transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, young heartworms called microfilariae enter into that mosquito's system. Within two weeks, the microfilariae develop into infective larvae inside the mosquito; these infective larvae can be transmitted to another animal when this mosquito takes its next blood meal. Unlike dogs, infected cats do not often have microfilariae circulating in their blood, and an infected cat is not likely to transfer the heartworm infection to another mosquito.

The infective larvae mature into adult heartworms in approximately six months. During the first three months, the larvae migrate through the animal's body, eventually reaching the blood vessels of the lungs. During the last three months, the immature worms continue to develop and grow to adults, with females growing to lengths of up to 14 inches. The worms damage the blood vessels, and reduce the heart's pumping ability, resulting in severe lung and heart disease. When the animal shows signs of illness due to adult heartworm infection, it is called heartworm disease.

If adult worms (5-7 months post-infection) of both sexes are present, they will mate and produce new microfilariae. The microfilariae can cause the animal's immune system to mount a reaction; this immune reaction can actually cause damage to other organs. This life cycle continues when a mosquito bites the infected animal and becomes infected by the microfilariae. After development of the microfilariae to infective larvae within the mosquito (10 days to 2 weeks later) the infective heartworm larvae are capable of infecting another animal. Adult heartworms can survive for 5 to 7 years in dogs and several months to years in cats.

Where is heartworm disease found?

Geographically, heartworms are a potential threat in every state as well as in many other countries around the world. All dogs, regardless of age, sex, or living environment, are susceptible to heartworm infection. Indoor, as well as outdoor, cats are also at risk for the disease. If you plan to travel with your dog or cat to a different part of the country, or another country, ask your veterinarian about the risk of heartworm infection in the area where you are going to relocate or visit.

What pets should be tested for heartworm?

Because heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, any pet exposed to mosquitoes should be tested. This includes pets that only go outside occasionally.

How can I tell if my pet has heartworm disease?

Dogs: If your dog has been recently or mildly infected with heartworms, it may show no signs of illness until the adult worms have developed in the lungs and signs of heartworm disease are observed. As the disease progresses, your dog may cough, become lethargic, lose its appetite or have difficulty breathing. You may notice that your dog seems to tire rapidly after only moderate exercise.

Numerous diagnostic tests are available for your veterinarian to detect the presence of adult heartworm infection (> 6 month old infections) in your dog. Antigen tests detect the presence of adult female heartworms, and antibody tests determine if your pet has been exposed to heartworms. The antigen test is most commonly performed, and is very accurate in dogs. Further tests, such as chest radiographs (x-rays), a blood profile and an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis, to evaluate the severity of the disease, and to determine the best treatment plan for your dog.

Cats: Signs of possible heartworm disease in cats include coughing, respiratory distress, and vomiting. In rare cases, a cat may suddenly die from heartworms.

The diagnosis of heartworm infection in cats is more difficult than it is with dogs. A series of different tests may be needed to help determine the likelihood of heartworm infection as the cause of your cat's illness and, even then, the results may not be conclusive. In general, both antigen and antibody tests are recommended for cats to give the best chances of detecting the presence of heartworms.

How can my pet be treated?

Dogs: As with most medical problems, it is much better to prevent heartworm infection than to treat it. However, if your dog does become infected with heartworms there is an FDA-approved treatment available. There is substantial risk involved in treating a dog for heartworms. However, serious complications are much less likely in dogs that are in good health and when you carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions.

The goal of heartworm treatment is to kill the adult worms and microfilariae present in your dog, as safely as possible. However, when a dog is treated it is important to consider that heartworms are dying inside the dogs lungs. While your dog is treated, it will require complete rest throughout hospitalization and for some time following the last treatment. Additionally, other medications may be necessary to help control the body's inflammatory reaction as the worms die and are broken down in the dog's lungs.

Cats: There is currently no effective and safe medical treatment for heartworm infection or heartworm disease in cats. If your cat is diagnosed with heartworms, your veterinarian may recommend medications to reduce the inflammatory response and the resulting heartworm disease, or surgery to remove the heartworms.

Can heartworms be surgically removed?

Surgical removal of heartworms from dogs and cats is a high-risk procedure and is typically reserved for severe cases. However, in many cases surgical removal of heartworms may be necessary to afford the best opportunity for survival of the pet.

Can heartworm disease be prevented?

Heartworm infection is almost 100% preventable in dogs and cats. There are several FDA-approved heartworm preventives available in a variety of formulations. Your veterinarian can recommend the best method of prevention based upon your pet's risk factors and lifestyle. Of course, you have to remember to give your pet the preventive in order for it to work!

The preventives do not kill adult heartworms, and will not eliminate heartworm infection or prevent signs of heartworm disease if adults are present in the pet's body. Therefore, a blood test for existing heartworm infection is recommended before beginning a prevention program to assess the pet's current heartworm status. Because it is more difficult to detect heartworms in cats, additional testing may be necessary to make sure the cat is not infected.

Testing must then be repeated at appropriate intervals. The next test should be performed about 6 months after starting the preventive treatment, to confirm that your pet was not infected prior to beginning prevention (remember, tests only detect adult worms). Heartworm tests should be performed annually to ensure that your pet doesn't subsequently become infected with the disease and to ensure the appropriate amount of medication is being prescribed and administered. There have been reports of pets developing heartworm infection despite year-round treatment with a heartworm preventive, so having your pet tested regularly is the best way to keep them protected.

At Hancock Animal Hospital we recommend yearly heartworm testing and approved monthly preventative. If you have any questions, please call Hancock Animal Hospital at 617-773-0008.

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Traveling with your pet*
Planning and Preparation
 

***We can provide a USDA International or National Health Certificate here at Hancock Animal Hospital***

 

Planning and preparation are necessary when traveling with family pets. Consider whether your pet is comfortable when traveling. Some animals, like some people, function better in familiar surroundings. A car-sick animal can make a trip miserable for everyone. Some dogs and cats cannot withstand the rigors of travel due to illness, injury, or temperament. If this is the case, discuss options such as using a reliable pet-sitter or a clean, well-managed boarding facility with your veterinarian.

If you will be staying with friends along the way, be considerate. Find out in advance if the pet is welcome. The same goes for hotels, motels, parks, and campgrounds. Always check whether pets are allowed or kennel facilities are available. If the pet must be left alone in a hotel room, place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and inform the maid and the front desk. Consider bringing along a portable kennel for use in hotel rooms or the homes of friends or relatives who are not comfortable having your pet loose when no one is home.

A few general tips apply whether you travel by car or plane. Be sure your pet is properly identified with a current tag and/or a microchip. Grooming (bathing, combing, trimming nails) before a trip, plus having its favorite food, toy(s), and dishes available will make your pet more comfortable. Have proof of rabies vaccination and a current health certificate with you when crossing state or international borders. Keep a photo of your pet with you to help with identification in case your pet is lost.

Before undertaking any trip, consult your veterinarian to be sure that all required vaccinations are up-to-date and to receive a health certificate within ten days of travel.

Travel by Air

Air travel is of most concern to pet owners. The airlines sometimes update their regulations on pet travel including restrictions on breeds and size, and may charge for checked kennels. Most airlines require a health certificate issued within 5-10 days prior to travel for domestic travel. Check with the airline well in advance for their current regulations. Many of the major airlines allow cats and small dogs to travel in specially designed carry-on luggage that will fit under the seat.  International travel requires significant paperwork and we recommend bringing in the current requirement for your particular destination for us to review. It is your responsibility to provide this information and to make sure that all the necessary steps and procedures are followed for international travel.

Federal regulations require that pets be at least 8 weeks old and weaned at least 5 days before flying. Always try to book a nonstop flight and avoid plane changes and busy holidays whenever possible. During warm weather periods, choose early morning or late evening flights. In colder months, choose midday flights. Regulations associated with the Federal Animal Welfare Act prohibit airlines from accepting dogs and cats for shipment if the airline cannot prevent exposure of the animal to temperatures less than 45 degrees F (7.2 C) or more than 85 degrees F (29.5 C) for more than 45 minutes when the animal is transferred between the terminal and the plane, or for more than 4 hours when the animal is in a holding facility. However, the prohibition against exposure to temperatures below 45 degrees F is waived if a veterinarian provides an acclimation certificate stating that the dog or cat can be exposed to lower temperatures. Your veterinarian cannot give a certificate allowing exposures to temperatures above 85 degrees F for more than 45 minutes. Brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs may have more difficulty with air travel.

Reconfirm your flight arrangements the day before you leave to ensure there have been no unexpected flight changes. Arrive at the airport early, exercise your pet, personally place it in its crate, and pick up the animal promptly upon arrival at your destination. When boarding the plane, let the flight attendant know that your pet is in the cargo hold. If your pet will be traveling with you in the cabin, arrange to check in as late as possible to reduce the amount of time your pet will have to spend in the busy terminal.

Defective kennels are the most common cause of escaped or injured animals during air travel. Approved transport crates, available from most airlines or pet shops, must:

bulletBe large enough to allow the animal to stand (without touching the top of the cage), sit erect, turn around, and lie down in a natural position.
bulletLatch securely.
bulletBe strong and free of interior protrusions, with handle or grips.
bulletHave a solid, leak-proof bottom that is covered with plenty of absorbent material.
bulletBe appropriately and clearly labeled. Include your name, home address, home phone number, and destination contact information, as well as a designation of "Live Animals," with arrows indicating the crate's upright position. In addition, carry your pet's photo and health information with you on the plane for easy identification in the event the cage label is lost.
bulletBe adequately ventilated so that airflow is not impeded.

Before leaving on your trip, take time to accustom your pet to the crate in which it will be traveling.

Ask your veterinarian for specific feeding instructions. For your pet's comfort, air travel on an almost empty stomach is usually recommended. The age and size of your pet, time and distance of the flight, and your pet's regular dietary routine will be considered when feeding recommendations are made. It is recommended that you not give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because they can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems.

Travel by Car

If your pet is not accustomed to car travel, take it for a few short rides before your trip so it will feel confident that a car outing does not necessarily mean a trip to the veterinarian or an unpleasant destination. Cats should always be confined to a cage or in a cat carrier to allow them to feel secure and prevent them from crawling under your feet while you are driving.

A dog that must ride in a truck bed should be confined in a protective kennel that is fastened to the truck bed. Dogs riding in a car should not ride in the passenger seat if it is equipped with an airbag, and should not be allowed to sit on the driver's lap. Harnesses, tethers, and other accessories to secure pets during car travel are available at most pet stores. Accustom your dog to a seatbelt harness by attaching a leash and taking your dog for short walks while wearing it. Offer your dog a treat and praise at the end of the walk to associate a positive experience with wearing the harness. Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows. Particles of dirt or other debris can enter the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection.

Stick to your regular feeding routine and give the main meal at the end of the day or when you reach your destination. Feeding dry food will be more convenient, assuming your pet readily consumes it. Dispose of unused canned food unless it can be refrigerated. Take along a plastic jug of cold water in case other reliable water sources are not available. Give small portions of food and water and plan to stop every two hours for exercise. Remember to include a leash with your pet's traveling supplies. If your dog is has a problem with carsickness, your veterinarian can prescribe medication that will help the dog feel comfortable during a long car trip. Pets should not be left unattended in cars.

Travel by Bus or Train

Most states prohibit animals from riding on buses and similar regulations restrict travel on trains. Exceptions are made for guide and service dogs accompanying blind and disabled persons. Consult your local carriers in advance for information.

Camping With Pets

Traveling to country settings with your pet presents its own challenges. Skunks, raccoons, porcupines, snakes, and other wildlife can bite or otherwise injure your pet. Keep your pet within sight and on a leash. Be considerate of other campers. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about flea, tick, and heartworm prevention before you leave.

Additional Pet Travel and Health Tips

bulletWhen traveling by car, pack a simple pet first-aid kit that includes assorted bandages, antiseptic cream, an antidiarrheal medication that is safe for pets (ask your veterinarian to suggest a product), gauze squares, and the phone numbers of your veterinarian, a national poison control hotline, and a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital
bulletIn addition to a standard identification tag (which should be labeled with your name, home address, and phone number), your pet's collar should include a travel tag with information on where you are staying while away from home. Should your pet become lost, this will allow you to be contacted locally.
bulletPerform a daily "health check" on your pet when away from home. In unfamiliar surroundings, your pet's appetite, energy, and disposition may change. Watch for unusual discharges from the nose and eyes, excessive scratching or biting of any body part, abnormal elimination, or excessive water consumption. Visit a local veterinarian if you are concerned about any physical or behavioral changes.

For more Information and helpful tips on traveling with your pet

American Veterinary Medical Association
www.avma.org

United States Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/animals.htm

United States Department of Agriculture Animal Care Pet Travel Page
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/pet_travel/pet_travel.shtml

International Air Transport Association Live Animals Transportation by Air
http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/live_animals/index.html

 

 

Euthanasia and Grief- the hardest decision*

It's never an easy decision to make, but perhaps the kindest thing you can do for a pet that is extremely ill or so severely injured that it will never be able to resume a life of good quality is to have your veterinarian induce its death quietly and humanely through euthanasia.

A decision concerning euthanasia may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make for your pet. Although it is a personal decision, it doesn't need to be a solitary one. Your veterinarian and your family and close friends can help you make the right decision and can support you as you grieve the loss of your pet.

What should I do?

Eventually, many owners are faced with making life-or-death decisions for their pets. Such a decision may become necessary for the welfare of the pet and your family. Consider not only what is best for your pet, but also what is best for you and your family. For example, if your pet has an injury or disease that requires more care than you and your family can give to make sure it has a good quality of life, euthanasia may be the right decision. Quality of life is important for pets and people alike.

Once the decision for euthanasia has been made, it is sometimes easier to discuss what you want done with the remains of your pet's body before your pet is euthanatized – by making arrangements prior to euthanasia, it can bring some degree of comfort to know what will be done with your pet's body, and you will not have to focus on these decisions while you are grieving the recent loss of your beloved pet. The staff at Hancock Animal Hospital can provide information about burial, cremation, and other alternatives.

How will I know when?

If your pet can no longer experience the things it once enjoyed, cannot respond to you in its usual ways, or appears to be experiencing more pain than pleasure, you may need to consider euthanasia. Likewise, if your pet is terminally ill or critically injured, or if the financial or emotional cost of treatment is beyond your means, euthanasia may be a valid option. Sometimes asking yourself the question, "Does my pet have more bad days than good days?" can help you make the decision.

Your veterinarian understands your bond with your pet and can examine and evaluate your pet's condition, estimate its chances for recovery, and discuss any potential disabilities, special needs and long-term problems. He or she can explain medical and surgical options as well as risks and possible outcomes. Because your veterinarian cannot make the euthanasia decision for you, it is important that you fully understand your pet's condition. If there is any part of the diagnosis or the possible effects on your pet's future that you don't understand, ask questions that will help you understand. Although there are times when the decision needs to be made immediately, you usually will have some time to review the facts and discuss it with your family and friends before making the decision.

What if the animal is healthy?

Euthanasia might be necessary if a pet has become vicious, dangerous, or unmanageable. Some undesirable and abnormal behavior can be changed, so it is important to discuss these situations with your veterinarian. Your and your family's safety should always be taken into consideration.

Economic, emotional, and space limitations or changes in lifestyle also may cause an owner to consider euthanasia for their pet. Sometimes it is possible to find another home for the pet and that option should be pursued prior to opting for euthanasia. Euthanasia of healthy pets should be considered only when alternatives are not available.

How do I tell my family?

Family members usually are already aware of a pet's problems. However, you should review with them the information you have received from your veterinarian. Long-term medical care can be a burden that you and your family may be unable to bear emotionally or financially, and this should be discussed openly and honestly. Encourage family members to express their thoughts and feelings. Even if you have reached a decision, it is important that family members, especially children, have their thoughts and feelings considered.

Children have special relationships with their pets and should not be excluded from the decision-making process because they might seem too young to understand. Preventing children from participating in the process may only complicate and prolong their grief process. Children respect straightforward, truthful, and simple answers. If they are prepared adequately, children usually are able to accept a pet's death.

Will it be painless?

Euthanasia is most often accomplished for pets by injection of a death-inducing drug. Your veterinarian may administer a tranquilizer first to relax your pet. Following injection of the euthanasia drug, your pet will immediately become deeply and irreversibly unconscious as the drug stops brain function. Death is quick and painless. Your pet may move its legs or head or breathe deeply several times after the drug is given, but these are reflexes and don't mean that your pet is in pain or is suffering.

How can I say goodbye?

The act of saying goodbye is an important step in managing the natural and healthy feelings of grief and sorrow following the loss of a beloved friend and companion.

Once the euthanasia decision has been made, you and other family members may want to say goodbye to your pet. A last evening with your pet at home or a visit to the pet at the hospital may be appropriate. Family members who want to be alone with the pet should be allowed to do so. Some pet owners choose to be present during their pet's euthanasia, but others choose to say goodbye beforehand and not be present during euthanasia. This is a very personal decision and you should do what feels right for you. Do not let others pressure you into making a choice that makes you uncomfortable.

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How can I face the loss?

After your pet has died, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow. For some people, spending some time with their pet after euthanasia is helpful. The grieving process includes accepting the reality of your loss, accepting that the loss and accompanying feelings are painful, and adjusting to your new life that no longer includes your pet. By understanding the grieving process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help others in the family who share this loss.

Sometimes well-meaning family and friends may not realize how important your pet was to you or the intensity of your grief. Comments they make may seem cruel and uncaring although they were not meant to be taken that way. Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel. If you feel despair, talk to someone who will listen to your feelings about the loss of your pet. Talk about your sorrow, but also about the fun times you and your pet spent together, the activities you enjoyed, and the memories that are meaningful to you.

The stages of grief

There are many stages of grief, but not everyone experiences them all or in the same order. The stages include denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance, and resolution. The grief can seem to come in waves, may be brought on more intensely by a sight or sound that sparks your memory, and may seem overwhelming at times.

Your first reaction may be denial—an unwillingness to accept the fact that your pet has died or that death is unavoidable. Denial may begin when you first learn the seriousness of your pet's illness or injuries. Often, the more sudden the death, the more difficult the loss is to accept and the stronger the denial.

Anger and guilt often follow denial. Your anger may be directed toward people you normally love and respect, including your family, friends or your veterinarian. People coping with death will often say things that they do not really mean, unintentionally hurting those whom they do not mean to hurt. You may feel guilty or blame others for not recognizing the illness earlier, for not doing something sooner, for not being able to afford other types of or further treatment, or for being careless and allowing your pet to be injured.

Depression is a common experience after the death of a special pet. The tears flow, there are knots in your stomach, and you feel drained of all your energy. Day-to-day tasks can seem impossible to perform and you may feel isolated and alone. Many depressed people will avoid the company of friends and family. It might be hard to get out of bed in the morning, especially if your morning routine involved caring for your pet's needs. Sometimes you may even wonder if you can go on without your pet. The answer is yes, but there are times when special assistance may be helpful in dealing with your loss. If you are suffering from profound depression, seek professional assistance.

Eventually, you will come to terms with your feelings. You can begin to accept your pet's death. Resolution has occurred when you can remember your pet and your time with them without feeling the intense grief and emotional pain you previously felt. Acceptance and resolution do not mean that you no longer feel a sense of loss, just that you have come to terms with the fact that your pet has died.

Even when you have reached resolution and acceptance, feelings of anger, denial, guilt, and depression may reappear. If this does happen, these feelings will usually be less intense, and with time they will be replaced with fond memories.

Although everyone experiences the stages of grief, grieving is always a very personal process. Some people take longer than others to come to terms with denial, anger, guilt, and depression, and each loss is different. If you understand that these are normal reactions, you will be better prepared to cope with your feelings and to help others face theirs. Family and friends should be reassured that sorrow and grief are normal and natural responses to death.

If you or a family member have great difficulty in accepting your pet's death and cannot resolve feelings of grief and sorrow, you may want to discuss these feelings with a person who is trained to understand the grieving process and can support and help you as you mourn your loss. Your veterinarian certainly understands the relationship you have lost and may be able to suggest support groups and hot lines, grief counselors, clergymen, social workers, physicians, or psychologists who can help.

Remembering your pet

The period from birth to old age is much shorter for most domestic animals than for people, and death is a normal part of the lifecycle. It cannot be avoided, but understanding and compassion can help you, your family, and your friends manage the grief associated with it.

For some people, a memorial service or ritual (such as releasing balloons or spreading cremated remains) can be therapeutic. You may choose to keep and display reminders of your beloved pet, such as photos or mementos or anything that helps you recall and treasure the good times you spent with your beloved pet. You may also wish to make a memorial contribution to a charity in honor of your pet and the deep bond you shared. Just as the grieving process varies from person to person, so does the method of remembering the pet that shared your life.

Should I get another pet?

The death of a beloved pet can upset you emotionally, especially when euthanasia is involved. Some people may feel they would never want another pet. For some, the thought of having – and eventually losing – another pet may seem unbearable. These feelings may pass with time. For others, a new pet may help them recover from their loss more quickly. Just as grief is a personal experience, the decision of when, if ever, to bring a new pet into your life is a personal one.

If a family member is having difficulty accepting the pet's death, getting a new pet before that person has resolved his or her grief may make them feel that you think the life of the deceased pet was unworthy of the grief that is still being felt. Family members should agree on the appropriate time to bring a new pet in to their lives. Although you can never replace the pet you lost, you can find another to share your life.

For more information about the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and how you can make a memorial contribution, visit www.avmf.org

Please feel free to contact us at Hancock Animal Hospital at any time. 617-773-0008

 

 

Vaccinations*

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are products designed to trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents.

Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians. Some vaccines are administered via injections using a syringe and needle, and others are administered into the animal's nose. Other methods of administration are currently under development.

Is it important to vaccinate?

Yes! Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. If an unvaccinated pet develops one of these diseases, treatment can become very expensive and many of these diseases can be fatal despite treatment. Even though some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because these serious disease agents continue to be present in the environment.

It is also important to remember that pets can be vaccinated for some Zoonotic (pronounced ZOE-oh-not-ick) diseases, which are diseases that can be spread from animals to people. For example, rabies is a serious, often fatal, disease that can spread from infected animals to people. By vaccinating your pets for rabies, you are protecting your family as well as your pet.

Does vaccination ensure protection?

For most pets, vaccination is effective in preventing future disease. Occasionally, a vaccinated pet may not develop adequate immunity and, although rare, it is possible for these pets to become ill if exposed to the disease. These gaps in protection should be as short as possible to provide optimal protection against disease for the first few months of life. It is important to remember that although breakdowns in protection do occur, most appropriately vaccinated pets are able to successfully fight off disease—reinforcing the importance of vaccines in your pet's preventive health care program.

Are there risks?

Any treatment carries some risk, but these risks should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet from potentially fatal diseases. Most pets respond well to vaccines. The most common adverse responses are mild and short-term, including fever, sluggishness, and reduced appetite. Pets may also experience temporary pain or subtle swelling at the site of vaccination. Although most adverse reactions will resolve within a day or two, any excessive or continued pain, swelling, or listlessness should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Rarely, more serious adverse reactions can occur. Allergic reactions appear within minutes or hours of a vaccination and may include repeated vomiting or diarrhea, whole body itching, swelling of the face or legs, difficulty breathing or collapse. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any of these symptoms are seen. In very rare instances, death could occur from an allergic reaction. There are other uncommon but serious adverse reactions, including injection site tumors (sarcomas) in cats, which can develop weeks or months after a vaccination. The best advice is to always tell your veterinarian about any abnormalities you notice after your pet has been vaccinated.

**** ALWAYS tell us prior to any vaccinations if your pet has had any previous vaccination problems or concerns.

Why do puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations?

Very young puppies and kittens are highly susceptible to infectious diseases because their immune systems are not fully mature. While nursing, their mother's milk contains antibodies (special proteins) that provide some immunity to diseases; however, these maternal antibodies do not last long, and there may be gaps in protection as the milk antibodies decrease and the puppies' or kittens' immune system isn't yet capable of fighting off infection. In many instances, the first dose of a vaccine serves to prime the pet's immune system against the virus or bacteria while subsequent doses help to further stimulate the immune system to produce the antibodies needed to protect a pet from specific diseases. To keep these gaps in protection as small as possible and to provide optimal protection against disease in the first few months of life, a series of vaccinations are scheduled, usually 3-4 weeks apart. For most puppies and kittens, the final vaccination in the series is administered at about 4 months of age; however, in some situations, a veterinarian may alter this schedule based on an individual animal's risk factors. Remember that an incomplete series of vaccinations may lead to incomplete protection, making puppies and kittens vulnerable to infection.

Which vaccinations should my pet receive?

Not all pets should be vaccinated with all available vaccines. "Core" vaccines are recommended for most pets in a particular area because they protect from diseases most common in that area. "Non-Core" vaccines are reserved for individual pets with unique needs. Your veterinarian will consider your pet's risk of exposure to a variety of preventable diseases in order to customize a vaccination program for optimal protection throughout your pet's life. Talk with your veterinarian about your pet's lifestyle including its expected travel to other geographic locations and/or contact with other animals (such as exposure at kennels, obedience classes, shows, and dog parks) since these factors impact your pet's risk of exposure to certain diseases. For older pets, make sure your veterinarian is aware of any previous adverse reactions to vaccines.

How often should my pet be vaccinated?

For many years, a set of annual vaccinations was considered normal and necessary for dogs and cats. There is increasing evidence to support that immunity triggered by some vaccines provides protection beyond one year while the immunity triggered by other vaccines may fail to protect for a full year. Consequently, one vaccination schedule will not work well for all pets. Your veterinarian will determine a vaccination schedule most appropriate for your pet.

What are antibody titers, and do they replace vaccinations?

Antibody titers are blood tests that measure the amount of antibodies in the blood. Following exposure to a disease-causing organism (such as a virus) or a vaccine, the body generates antibodies that help to destroy the organism and prevent or minimize illness if the body is exposed to the same organism again.

Antibody titers do not replace vaccination programs, but in some instances may help your veterinarian determine if your pet has a reasonable expectation of protection against disease. However, there are only a limited number of disease-causing organisms for which antibody titers can suggest your pet's level of protection, and those antibody tests have limitations. Consequently, a higher antibody titer does not necessarily mean your pet will be protected if exposed to the disease, and a lower titer may not mean your pet's protection is lacking.

A final thought

Many factors are taken into consideration when establishing a pet's vaccination plan. Your veterinarian will tailor a program of vaccinations and patient health care that will help your pet maintain a lifetime of infectious disease protection.

Please feel free to contact us at Hancock Animal Hospital at any time. 617-773-0008

 

*Information provided in part by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

 

 

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