Archive for April, 2010

Internal Parasites in Dogs and Cats

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Dogs and cats can become hosts to many intestinal parasites and a few general statements apply to all parasitic infections:

 All deworming medicines are poisonous to some extent and should only be used as needed and under proper conditions.
 At this time there is no one dewormer that can eliminate all species of parasites.  Consequently an accurate diagnosis is necessary to treat your pet properly.
 Diagnosis is usually made from a fresh stool sample (passed less than 12 hours) or, in the case of tapeworms, seeing the segments in the stool.
 Most puppies and kittens are infected before birth and, for this reason, will need deworming starting at 6 weeks of age. If hookworms are suspected, stools should be checked starting as early as 2-3 weeks. 
 Occasionally, for a heavy parasitic infection, 3 or even 4 treatments may be necessary to eliminate the parasite.
 The following is a brief description of the common intestinal parasites with their symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and human transmission.
This is a common worm of puppies and kittens, but can be seen in any age dog or cat. Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces or from a description of the worm if it is seen in the stool or vomitus. Treatment is an oral medication given at 2 -3 week intervals.  Symptoms will vary from none to marked vomiting and diarrhea, and abdominal swelling.  Transmission to adult dogs and cats occurs by infected feces contaminating the yard. As a result, prevention is accomplished by isolating your pet from infected feces of other animals. For dogs, the heartworm preventives also prevent roundworm infection. Transmission to humans is rare; young children can develop “visceral larval migrans” by eating dirt contaminated with feces.
This is also a common worm of puppies and kittens but is seen with equal frequency in adults.  This parasite sucks your pet’s blood and can cause severe anemia.  Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of your pet’s stool.  Treatment is either an oral medication or an injection or both.  This is repeated 2-3 weeks later.  Symptoms will vary from none to blood in the stool (dark tar-colored stool) with diarrhea.  Severe cases may need a transfusion and hospitalization.  Transmission to adults occurs by infected feces contaminating the grass or soil.  Prevention, therefore, requires that the pet be kept away from contaminated areas.  Certain types of heartworm preventive can also prevent hookworm infections in dogs. Transmission to humans is uncommon and is usually shows up as skin lesions.                                          
This worm affects dogs only. Diagnosis is also made from a microscopic exam of the feces.  Eggs from this parasite pass intermittently, however, so it may be necessary to check multiple fecals before a diagnosis is made. Treatment is an oral or injectable medication given at 3-week intervals for several treatments depending on the severity of the infection.  Symptoms vary from none to a severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, and marked weight loss. Some dogs require hospitalization for treatment of dehydration, malnutrition, and infection. There is no human transmission.
This common worm affects both dogs and cats. Transmission occurs when your dog or cat bites and “eats” a flea, or by ingesting other wildlife animals feces (rabbits, etc). The intermediate form of the tapeworm is inside the flea’s body and it then attaches to the intestine and begins to grow “segments”. In about 3 weeks, these segments begin to pass in the stool. They are approximately ¼ to ½ inch long, flat, and white. After a short time in the air, they dry up to resemble a small yellow flat seed.  Diagnosis is made from seeing these segments on the stool or on the pet’s back end rather than a microscopic fecal exam. Treatment is either by oral tablets or by an injection. The tapeworm infection kills existing tapeworms but it does not prevent future infection. The only prevention is strict flea control. There is no direct transmission from dog or cat to a human.
This parasite is not a worm. It is a very tiny single-celled parasite that can live in the intestines of dogs, cats, and man.  Giardia lives in areas of standing water like lakes and ponds.  It is seen most commonly in dogs living in these areas or coming out of kennel-type situations (pet stores, shelters, dog pounds, etc.) but its incidence is increasing.  Symptoms include intermittent or continuous diarrhea, weight loss, depression, and loss of appetite. Diagnosis is made from a very fresh fecal specimen that must be collected at the clinic for optimum results.  A surprising number of affected animals are “occult”; that is, they are infected but are negative on these tests even with multiple examinations. As a result, this parasite is often treated without a confirming diagnosis.  Treatment is an oral medication administered at home. Prevention involves careful disposal of all fecal material and cleaning contaminated areas. Humans can become infected with Giardia so special care must be taken to wash hands and utensils.
This is also a single-celled parasite. It is seen primarily in puppies and kittens, although debilitated adults can also be affected.  Transmission occurs by eating the infective stage of the parasite. It then reproduces in the intestinal tract causing no symptoms in mild cases to bloody diarrhea in severely affected pets. Diagnosis is made from a fresh stool sample. Treatment varies greatly. Animals showing no signs of illness are often not treated because a mild case is often self-limiting. Pets with diarrhea are treated at home with an oral medication. Severely affected pets may need hospitalization. Prevention involves disposal of all stools and cleaning the pet’s living area. Human transmission is uncommon but can occur.

Flea Facts and How to Protect Your Pet

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010


Flea Infestations are the most common parasite problem of dogs and cats in our area. It is estimated that American  pet owners spend over 500 million dollars each year on flea products most of which do not work! During the past few years much research has centered on studying the life cycle of the species of fleas that attack dogs and cats in an effort to develop better flea control methods. There are over 2000 species of fleas, but only a few actually attack dogs and cats

Here are some facts you should know:
 Flea eggs are white and about the size of a grain of sand. The eggs are laid while the flea is on the pet and easily roll off the fur into the environment. Eggs usually hatch in 1 10 days, depending on the temperature and humidity.  Once the eggs hatch, the larvae move deeper into the carpet to get away from light and searching for food. Temperatures below 650 and relative humidity below 70% slow down growth of the flea. When the larva is mature, it produces a silk like cocoon. Because the cocoon is sticky, it quickly becomes coated with debris from the environment that helps camouflage it. 

 This stage can last 9 174 days. Adult fleas emerge from the cocoon when stimulated by heat, vibrations, and exhaled carbon dioxide. The entire life cycle can be completed in as little as 12 14 days, or as long as 140 days.  Under average conditions, the entire life cycle takes 3 4 weeks.

 Adult fleas are attracted to house pets by the warmth of their body, movement, and changes in light intensity, and exhaled carbon dioxide. Fleas have tremendously powerful back legs, which they use for jumping on your pet. It is estimated that if we had the power in our legs that the a flea has; we could jump over the Empire State Building. It is reported that fleas can jump as high as 13 feet.

 It is now known that the adult flea species that attacks dogs and cats spends its ENTIRE Adult Life on your pet.  Once the adult flea begins to feed on your pet, it must have almost constant excess to the blood of your pet for it to survive. Adult fleas cannot live off your pet more than 3 4 days without a blood meal.

 Egg production begins within 48 hours of the first blood meal, reaches a peak of 40 50 eggs per day and can last well over 100 days. Female fleas can produce over 2000 eggs during their life. This is equivalent to producing their body weight in eggs every day of their life. While only a fraction of these eggs will eventually develop to adults in the natural environment, this high rate of reproduction ensures that there will ALWAYS be fleas!

 New adult fleas must have a blood meal within 2 3 weeks after hatching. The higher the temperature and lower the humidity, the quicker the fleas will die.

 It is common for people to be attacked by fleas after returning from vacation or being away from home for several days. This is often due to the increased temperature that occurs when the air conditioning is turned back providing a better optimum temperature and humidity (in our area) for fleas to mature.

 Fleas consume 15 times their body weight with every blood meal. An infestation of 220 female fleas could consume 10% of a 1-pound kitten’s blood volume in one day. The majority of blood
consumed is passed out as partially digested feces (”Flea Dirt”) that serve as essential food for flea larvae in the carpets and other areas.



Treat shady areas, damp areas, dog houses, and other areas where your pet spends the majority of it’s time.  Call your local exterminator or yard care professional for more information on getting your yard sprayed for fleas.

VACUUM the house THOROUGHLY, at least once each week to remove eggs.  This includes vacuuming all carpeted and non carpeted areas as well as your furniture.  When you are finished vacuuming make sure you take your bag out of your vacuum or empty your bagless container into a trash bag and take it outside to put in a closed container.  There are topical powders and OTC bombs you can buy to treat your home after you have cleaned it thoroughly.  Severe infestion usually requires professional bombing of your home by your local exterminator.

There are many OTC flea products out there however the best products to protect your pets from flea infestation can be found at your veterinarian’s office.  These topicals not only prevent against fleas but also prevent against other parasites such as ticks.  They are usually applied every 4 weeks to the skin inbetween the shoulder blades.  Go visit or call your veterinarian today to find out what is the best flea preventative for your pet.  At Brawley Animal Hospital we recommend treating your pet with Vectra.

Microchipping Your Pet

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Microchipping Your Pet

Dog and cat microchipping is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects a microchip for pets, about the size of a grain of rice (12mm), beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The process is similar to a routine shot, takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to a vaccination. No anesthetic is required.

A HomeAgain microchip is permanent pet ID. The microchip itself has no internal energy source, so it will last the life of your pet. It is read by passing a microchip scanner over the pet’s shoulder blades. The scanner emits a low radio frequency that provides the power necessary to transmit the microchip’s unique cat or dog ID code and positively identify the pet.

HomeAgain is the only dog & cat microchipping product on the market today that has the Bio-Bond™ patented anti-migration feature to help ensure that the microchip will stay in place so that it may be easily located and scanned. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique dog or cat ID code. This is the number used by HomeAgain to identify the pet and retrieve your contact information, which is used to contact you and reunite you with your pet.

Click on the link below to watch a video on how to microchip your pet.

Microchipping Your Pet

This information can from HomeAgain microchips.  HomeAgain are the microchips we use at Brawley Animal Hospital!