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What You Need to Know About Fleas & Ticks

Nothing feels quite as good as scratching an itch, but when the itch keeps itching, it can drive you batty! Just imagine what it’s like for your pet – they rely on you for their needs, so be aware of their scratching – it may be the first sign of a nasty problem – mainly, fleas and/or ticks.

Fleas and ticks are the two most common external parasites found in dogs and cats, and both will cause your pet to scratch themselves more frequently. These nasty little guys survive by feeding on the blood of dogs, cats and sometimes people. Flea and tick bites can lead to health problems including constant itching, hair loss (alopecia), hypersensitivity (allergic reaction), as well as infections and transmission of disease.

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Common Myths About Ticks and Fleas

1/ A flea collar is all you will need to prevent problems. Sorry, no. Most flea and tick collars do not work well, and allergic reactions are common.

2/ Garlic is an effective dietary aid for preventing fleas and ticks. Feeding your pet garlic will not prevent flea and tick infestations anymore than you eating garlic will protect you from vampires. Fleas and ticks will bite anyway because they find you and your pets delicious.

3/ Fleas and ticks are normal parts of life and won’t hurt my pet. This is not true. Ticks can transmit many diseases, including canine ehrlichiosis (tick fever). Severe hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions may develop after even a mild flea infestation. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to dogs and cats.

What to Do In Case of Flea and Tick Infestation

Step 1: Treat the pet’s environment.
You must kill fleas and ticks where they live when they’re not on your pet. Hire a professional exterminator. Be sure to explain that you have a flea or tick problem and that you have pets.

Step 2: Kill fleas and ticks that are on your pet.
When used as directed, flea and tick control products are safe and effective at preventing re-infestation of your pet. There are several excellent products available for cats and dogs. Ask your vet for a product recommendation that will be suitable for your pet.

Step 3: Prevent re-infection.
Treatment with a product like Frontline Top Spot will kill and repel ticks for one month, and fleas for up to three months. Frontline Top Spot is a topical treatment that can be used on dogs as young as ten weeks of age and cats as young as twelve weeks of age. Pet beds, carpets, blankets and other items must also be sanitized to kill any eggs that may be hiding.

Step 4: Break the reproductive cycle of fleas.
In the past, controlling fleas and ticks has been difficult, however, new products are available which make external parasite control manageable. Your vet can recommend a safe and effective product for your pet.

Remember – fleas and ticks are NOT just summer time problems. While it does get cool enough during the winter to decrease flea and tick activity, it does not get cold enough to kill them. Fleas and ticks can live very happily indoors during the winter months, so be aware and check your pets frequently year round.

How to Prevent Dogs from Getting Ticks and Fleas

Effective Parasite Prevention For Pets

Nothing feels quite as good as scratching an itch, but when the itch keeps itching, it
can drive you batty! Our dogs and cats rely on us to take care of their needs, so it’s
important to be aware of excessive scratching. Fleas and ticks are the two most
common external parasites found in dogs and cats. Both can cause your pet to
scratch themselves more frequently.

Fleas and ticks are nasty little guys that survive by feeding on the blood of dogs, cats,
and sometimes people. They can also lead to health problems and carry disease. For
instance, flea bites can lead to health problems including constant itching (Flea
Allergy Dermatitis), anemia, and tapeworms. Tick bites can cause infections and
transmission of diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
Prevention, prevention, prevention is the key!

Common Methods for Preventing Fleas and Ticks

Flea collars: Wearing a flea collar will be enough to protect your pet, right? Sorry,
not in every case. Flea and tick collars don’t always work, they have to be replaced
regularly, and allergic reactions are more common than you might think. Ask your vet for a preventative recommendation that will be suitable for your pet and lifestyle.

Adding garlic to a pet’s food to prevent fleas and ticks. Not really a great idea.
Garlic belongs to the Allium family (which includes onions, chives, and leeks), so it
can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Fleas and ticks will bite anyway
because it’s what they do. They find you and your pets delicious, so the garlic will just
add flavor. (Just for the record, feeding garlic to your pet will not prevent fleas and
ticks anymore effectively than you eating garlic would serve as protection from
vampires. Plus fleas and ticks are real threats; vampires are imaginary.)

Doing nothing to prevent fleas and ticks. After all, they’re a normal part of a dog’s
life, right? This is also a bad idea. If you’ve ever had a flea infestation in your home,
you’ll understand just how invasive and itchy these tiny critters can be when they’re
making a home around (and on) you and your pets!

Pets can develop severe hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions after even a mild flea
infestation. Trust us, now you’ll be hypersensitive every time you see your pet
scratching themselves. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to dogs
and cats. Ticks can transmit many diseases, including canine ehrlichiosis (tick fever).
Talk with your vet about creating a parasite prevention treatment plan that’s
suitable for your pet’s needs.

Fleas in Arizona

Fleas and tick populations tend to increase in warm and humid climates. Even in dry climates like Phoenix, fleas and ticks can still pose a threat to your pet, putting them at risk for serious
health concerns. They look for hosts to bite because they need blood to reproduce.
Arizona’s arid desert climate is true for only part of the state. We also have forests
and grasslands, which are ideal breeding grounds for fleas and ticks. With so many
people and pets engaged in weekend trips away and outdoor pursuits like camping,
hiking, and biking, it’s easy for pets (and you) to pick up a few hitchhikers along the
way.
Fleas can be found living in shrubbery or piles of leaves and other debris, but they
also love carpeting, pet bedding, and dark, protected spaces under furniture.
Ask your vet about a parasite prevention program that’s suitable for your pet and lifestyle.

Ticks in Arizona

Ticks tend to live outdoors near the animals they feed on (deer, coyotes, possums,
raccoons, etc) but they’ve been known to hitch a ride on people and pets. If you are
going hiking or camping, pay special attention to ticks by checking
kids, people, and pets throughout your trip!

Checking your pets for ticks: Carefully examine your pet’s ears, groin area, and
spaces between their toes – ticks love to hide in nooks and crannies of the body
while they engorge themselves on the host’s blood. Undiscovered, a tick can feed
for days on its host, increasing the chance of spreading pathogens and disease. In
fact, a female tick will expand up to 10X her original weight.

Creepy crawly tick fact: While most male ticks die after mating, the females die
after laying anywhere between 2000-18000 eggs. That reality is more than enough
reason to establish a regular parasite prevention routine for your pets that allows
them to live a happy and healthy life!

Ask your vet about recommending a parasite prevention routine that’s suitable for
your pet and lifestyle.

*Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or
treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have
regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency,
call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Most Common Age-Related Diseases in Senior Pets

Who has heard the saying “Aging is a Disease”? We definitely have! Aging is a natural process that happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean aging itself is a disease. What’s true is that senior pets are more susceptible to specific health conditions as a result of aging. Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, our fur babies can live longer and happier lives – with some extra TLC! Here are some of the most common age-related diseases, symptoms to look for, and how they can affect your pets. 

  • Arthritis: We know how much dogs love to take walks, and cats love to jump onto their perch. If your pet begins limping on those walks or is hesitating to run and jump on their perch, they may be showing early signs of arthritis. Arthritis is a common disease amongst senior pets, where one or more of the joints are inflamed, resulting in continuous pain and muscle stiffness. Some large breed dogs such as German Shepards, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease in their elbows and hips. The best way to help prevent your pet from developing arthritis is weight management, which can help decrease the stress put on certain joints. In some cases, we can prescribe medication to help reduce swelling and pain. If you are noticing any changes in your pet’s physical abilities, please contact us immediately so we can discuss the options available to keep your pets feeling their best.
  • Vision Loss: Just as our vision can become impaired with age, so can our pets! The most common diseases that cause vision loss in pets are diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts.  Vision loss can be hard to detect in pets because they often adapt by compensating with their other senses. Depending on the cause of vision loss, it can make it more challenging to prevent. Some common symptoms of vision loss include bumping into objects, cloudy, discolored or inflamed eyes, and even clumsiness and disorientation. 
  • Dental Disease:  Did you know that dental disease is the number one medical problem in dogs and cats? Yes, you read that, right! Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an inflammatory disease from leftover bacteria in the mouth, causing symptoms such as bad breath, problems eating, red gums and bleeding, and in severe cases, loss of teeth. If dental disease is left untreated, it can have adverse effects on the large organs in the body – including the heart, liver, and kidneys. To help fight dental disease, annual dental cleanings, and daily home care are highly recommended. Talk with us at your next appointment about preventative care and treatment options. 
  • Cognitive Dysfunction: You may notice that your pet is beginning to have more of those “senior moments.” It may be that your pet is moving slower than usual, appearing to be more anxious or even seems disoriented and confused in familiar spaces. These behaviors can be the beginning signs of cognitive dysfunction – very similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive dysfunction is a neurological disease related to the aging of the mind, that can slow down all mental and motor functions as well as trained behaviors. The symptoms are typically mild and come on gradually, making it difficult to initially detect. If you suspect your pet is developing any of these symptoms or notice changes in their behavior, contact us right away.
  • Heart and Kidney Disease: With age, many of the large organs in the body are known to slow down. Heart and kidney disease are similar in that they both consist of progressive loss of the organ function. Some common symptoms of heart disease are lethargy, coughing, and rapid breathing. Similarly, common symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, and increased urination and thirst. Both of these diseases are tricky to detect because the symptoms can either appear gradually or very suddenly. While both can be preventable, treatment may consist of oral medication and changes to their diet.

Ultimately, you cannot stop the aging of your pups and kitties; but what we can do is work together in an effort to detect these disease symptoms sooner rather than later. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!

Senior Pet Exams

We know how important your pup is to your family, and they are just as important to us! As your dog enters the “golden years,” their health care needs change – with increased chances of diseases and age-related conditions. As we know, our dogs cannot tell us if they are sick, and with an older pet’s increased chances of illness, senior pet exams are key in keeping your furry family member healthy. With this in mind, we want to share some information with you on senior pet exams to help you make the most informed decisions for your dog’s overall health.

A very common question we get is, “When is my dog considered a senior?” It’s no secret that pups age faster than humans! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canines are generally considered “seniors” at age seven – although this can be different for each pet depending on their genetics, home environment, and overall health.  

 What can I expect during a senior check-up? Most senior exams contain these components:

  1.  History: The exam typically begins with various questions – checking for any recent changes in their lifestyle, habits, appetite, mobility, mood, etc. We will also ask about their diet and any medications or supplements they are taking. This allows us to take a current “snapshot” of your pup’s health, seeing if any of these differences indicate a health concern. 
  2. Complete Physical Examination: A nose to tail examination is conducted to assess the external appearance and body condition, checking for any abnormalities. We check their teeth and gums, feel for lumps and bumps, listen to the heart and lungs, feel and move the joints, and examine the abdomen for any internal organ changes that we may be able to feel from the outside. In a senior pet exam, we are looking for signs of aging such as dental disease, hyperthyroidism (specifically in felines) growths, heart disease, arthritis, and changes in the size of some internal organs.
  3. Lab Work: We recommend senior pets receive routine lab testing at least once a year. This helps us evaluate their overall wellness while detecting specific health conditions that may not be visible. Annual testing is also valuable because it indicates what ‘normal’ is for your pet. There is a range of normal for all of us – pets included – and conducting annual tests can show us those subtle drops or increases that could be pre-indicators in potential areas of concern. The tests recommended will vary depending on your specific pet’s needs, but the minimum testing suggested is a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. 

Aging typically means more visits to the doctor. We encourage you to bring your dog in at least twice a year for senior exams. Depending on their overall health condition, this number may vary, so make sure to talk with us at your next appointment about what is best for your pup.

Trust us when we say that we understand senior pets care sounds a bit overwhelming and scary at first. As the saying goes, “Prevention is the best medicine,” and more frequent vet visits will allow us to detect health conditions in a more timely manner. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure you can continue creating fun memories with your sidekick!

Be an Expert in Pet Poison Control to Keep Your Pet Safe

Quick pet poison control tips for any pet owner and what to avoid

Pet poisoning is far more common than you think. The 2018 statistics show that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received 213,773 cases concerning potential poisonings. Knowledge and prevention is the first step in keeping everyone in your family safe.

Signs of Poisoning

Many symptoms of poisoning look similar to other illnesses and may include signs like:

● Vomiting

● Diarrhea

● Drooling

● Convulsions

● Lethargy

● Black/bloody stools

● Lethargy

While the curious nature of pets is a given, there are a few specific items you should keep a close eye on.

1. Medications

Most households have prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs on hand, so it’s no surprise that these top the charts as the most common pet toxicants. In 2018, drugs accounted for just over 37 percent of all calls to the APCC. Medications like ibuprofen, cold medicines, antidepressants, and ADHD medications were most commonly ingested by pets, followed by heart medications.

Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are particularly dangerous for dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can cause red blood cell (RBC) injury, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swelling, and vomiting in cats and liver failure, dry eye, and RBC injury in dogs. Even just a single ibuprofen pill can have drastic consequences, including ulcers, anemia, kidney failure, liver failure, and

seizures. If you think your pet has consumed a pill (even an accidental drop of a pill on the kitchen floor), contact your veterinarian right away.

2. Foods

Certain foods that sit well with humans won’t sit as well with your pet. Make sure you keep these away from your four-legged friends:

● Chocolate – It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate contains two harmful ingredients for dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances, known as methylxanthines, can lead to medical complications and even death. The three main categories of chocolate to be aware of are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine and is the most toxic, even in minute quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.

● Grapes and Raisins – Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food that is harmful to your dog. Grapes, raisins, and currants can be toxic to your dog, leading to potential kidney failure, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep all foods in that family, including grape juice, raisin bagels, and similar foods out of your pet’s reach.

● Xylitol (sweeteners) – This sugar-free natural sweetener is popping up in all sorts of products, from sugar-free gum and mints to toothpaste, vitamins, food, and candy. While it might make a great sugar substitute for humans, it can be devastating to your dog, with symptoms ranging from weakness and collapse to coma and even death. Xylitol can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis, and liver failure and requires immediate treatment.

● Milk/Dairy

● Nuts

● Avocados

● Citrus

● Raw meat

● Salt

● Onions

● Garlic

Many of these foods have severe consequences for pets, including liver damage, hyperthermia, seizures, and central nervous system depression. Even if your animal is looking at you with their big, begging eyes, it’s best to stick to pet approved foods only. When in doubt – remember no human foods for pets!

3. Household Cleaners/Items

Household items are tricky because they are often things we keep lying around. Items like oven cleaners, lime-removal products, concentrated toilet cleaners, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and dishwashing chemicals are all highly corrosive. These products can cause severe injuries and burns to a pet’s fur and skin upon contact. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these products, get in touch with your veterinarian immediately and share the details of what chemical they’ve come into contact with. Provide as MUCH information as you possibly can.

4. Antifreeze

Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield deicers, is extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, its sweet smell and taste can lure unsuspecting pets to taste it, often leading to deadly results. If you suspect ethylene glycol poisoning, it’s imperative you seek veterinary treatment IMMEDIATELY as the antidote needs to be administered within hours in order for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.

5. Rodenticide Exposure

Rodenticide is just as harmful to your pet as it is to a rat or mouse. Even when using rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. This invisible transfer means your animal is more likely to come in contact with the product without you knowing it. We recommend you avoid using this product in your home altogether if at all possible in order to reduce the risk to your pet.

6. Insecticide Exposure

Watch out for carbamates and organophosphates (OP). Found most frequently in rose and flower herbicides and fertilizers, these chemicals can cause symptoms from nausea, tearing, and drooling to hypothermia, seizures, and even death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs can still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to product labels to ensure proper pet poison control.

7. Flea and Tick Products

Remember the carbamates and organophosphates we talked about with insecticides? Those same ingredients can be found in various generic flea and tick products. Be sure to put your pet on a flea and tick preventative that meets the safety standards recommended by your veterinarian.

8. Plants

Although houseplants have many benefits (and for some of us, are used as home décor), you should think twice before bringing certain kinds into your home. Lilies, azaleas, autumn crocus, tulips, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, and Sago Palms are all highly toxic to pets. Play it safe and keep these hazardous houseplants away from your home. A good alternative could be artificial houseplants; they still look nice, but are much safer for your pet!

In Case of an Emergency…

· Be prepared. In case of a pet poisoning or other emergency, family members should all have the number of a preferred vet clinic or another emergency veterinary contact. Post these emergency numbers in a visible spot for everyone to reference.

· Keeping materials like activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide around the house in the case of an emergency is also a great way to be prepared. Activated charcoal (NOT the kind you grill with!) can help absorb and remove toxicants, and can be administered orally to pets via syringe. Diluted hydrogen peroxide in some cases can be used to induce vomiting in pets to purge toxins. If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with poison, call your veterinary clinic immediately. NEVER try to try to administer any of these treatments or induce vomiting in your pet without consulting an emergency veterinarian and/or the poison control center FIRST. The safety of your pet is the #1 priority. · Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

Although this list of poisonous items to your pet seems a bit daunting, we share this information in an effort to keep your furry family member(s) healthy – and most importantly, safe – for years to come!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.