Tag Archives: veterinary services

Do Dogs Need a Flu Shot? Combatting Dog Flu in Arizona

Combatting Dog Flu in Arizona: What to Know About Flu Shots for Dogs

Cases of dog flu in Arizona have been in the news recently, with some limited
outbreaks recorded in Northern Arizona. Naturally, we’ve had a lot of calls from
concerned pet parents. We totally get it. Our pets are beloved family members. With
these outbreaks, some of us are left asking: do dogs need a flu shot? Or worse, does
my dog have the flu?

Since we happen to have more than 100 knowledgeable veterinarians within our
AZPetVet family, we decided to ask Dr. Chris Hummel from Westbrook Animal
Hospital to answer the most frequently asked questions about the dog flu in Arizona.

Q: Is dog flu the same as people flu?

No. From a viral standpoint, dog flu is NOT the same as people flu. The two strains of
Canine Influenza viruses found in the United States are H3N8 which researchers
believe originated in horses, and N3N2 which is likely of avian origin imported
directly from Asia. In very rare cases the dog flu virus has been known to infect cats,
but the flu poses little risk to cats beyond a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing.

People don’t get dog flu, and dogs don’t get people flu. However, in people and in
dogs, there’s a gap between being exposed to the flu virus and developing
symptoms. That’s why we’ll so often see outbreaks happen in clusters. Somebody is
contagious and doesn’t know it until it’s too late; then suddenly everyone is sick.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:
“H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases
appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing
respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious
during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing
clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a
subclinical infection and shed the virus.”

Q: How would a dog catch the flu?

Almost the same way a person would. The virus is transmitted through the air by
sneezing and coughing (or barking, drooling and licking), or by contact with infected
surfaces including areas like communal water dishes. Most likely, they would come into contact with another dog that’s contagious. So exposure to the dog flu in
Arizona usually happens at places where you find lots of dogs; the dog park, doggie
daycare, a boarding kennel, grooming salon or dog show.

Q: Does my dog have the flu? – Dog Flu Symptoms

Well, here’s another area where dog flu is similar to people flu. Dogs with the flu will
show symptoms like fever, lethargy, cough, stuffy or runny nose, and watery eyes,
difficulty breathing, wheezing or rapid breathing. Checking on your dog’s wellness is
key to answering the question “does my dog have the flu”. If these symptoms don’t
sound like your dog’s or are more severe, see this article about dog poisoning to help
determine if you’re dealing with something more serious.

You’ll be able to tell your dog is not feeling well. Keep them quiet and away from
other pets to avoid exposing them to the virus. You don’t want to spread the dog flu
in Arizona. After isolating your dog, then it’s time to get busy.

The Canine Influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on
clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Wash your hands frequently. Wash
your clothing, and clean and disinfect other items your pet may have touched. These
include kennels and crates, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, bedding, and toys.

Q: Is dog flu dangerous?

Do dogs need a flu shot? Is it serious enough to warrant giving my dog a flu shot?
The severity of the flu varies depending on the viral strain, the pet’s age, and overall
health. Most otherwise healthy dogs will recover from the flu without a problem or any special treatment required. However, it’s important to note that the cough may
last for up to 3-4 weeks.

Older dogs with weakened immune systems or puppies with underdeveloped
immunity are more at risk as their bodies will have a harder time fighting the virus,
so there’s a higher risk for developing pneumonia.

Dogs with short muzzles, like pugs and bulldogs, already have a compromised
respiratory system. Sore throats and stuffy noses would naturally make them feel
quite sick, so they’d need close monitoring and a trip to the vet’s office.

Q: How is Canine Influenza treated?

There is no specific treatment for Canine Influenza; however, if the answer to the
question “does my dog have the flu” is yes, then there are ways to support your dog
and keep them comfortable. The majority of treatments used in severe cases are
supportive. They may include IV fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, breathing treatments,
and mucolytics (a class of medications which help break down mucus to make it
easier to expel it from the lungs).

Q: So do dogs need a flu shot?

While vaccines are available for canine influenza, vaccination would only be
recommended for dogs at high risk for infection. It is important to note, vaccination
can only reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza, it may not prevent
infection. However, the flu shot can potentially reduce the severity and duration of
the flu. It’s best to talk over your concerns with your vet.

Q: Anything else we need to know?

One last, but very important reminder – people can’t get dog flu, but they can
inadvertently spread it if they’ve touched a contaminated surface (or petted one).
That’s why animal hospitals follow strict guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. We
take extra precautions when seeing pets that are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
If you suspect your pet has the flu or has been exposed to it, or they’re having
respiratory symptoms, call us first. You may receive special instructions for bringing
your dog into the office. These restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of exposing
other animals in the waiting room to something that could be contagious.

Find an AZPetVet location near you

Is My Cat Too Fat? Is My Dog Too Fat?

Pet Health: How To Tell If Your Dog or Cat is Too Fat.

black and white cartoon of a fat catIf you’re asking ‘Is my cat too fat’ or ‘is my dog too fat’, the answer is more
likely yes than no.

In the U.S., it’s estimated that 57 percent of cats and 52 percent of dogs are
overweight or clinically obese.

It’s a great time for people who think their pet may be too fat to learn about
the common causes of obesity in pets. Good information means you can act
before excess weight negatively impacts your pet’s health, along with your
heart and your wallet. (Nobody needs extra vet bills.) So what’s the reason
behind your dog or cat gaining a few pounds? It’s usually due to three key
areas.

How Both Dogs and Cats Get Fat

Overfeeding: This is one of the main culprits in pet obesity – but it’s not
just treat-based. Many people simply fill their pet’s bowl with food
without thinking about calories. Always use a measuring cup and follow
the recommendations you’re your veterinarian along with the
manufacturer’s guidelines for weight, age, and activity levels. Keep
treats to a minimum. Ever slip treats to a pet wanting your attention
while you’re busy with something else? Don’t fall into the trap of using
treats as a substitute for personal attention. Stop what you’re doing (if
possible) and give them a few minutes of your time and attention.

Guilting You With Puppy and Kitty Eyes: They look so cute, so sweet,
so sad. If your pet learns you’ll reward them for a particular behavior,
they’ll work it for everything they can get. Don’t give into temptation.
Or at a minimum, make them work to get their treats to try to balance
things out.

Lack of Exercise: Make sure your dog gets walks regularly (it’s good for
you both) and that both cats and dogs get plenty of play time and
activities to keep them moving. And why limit the walks to dogs? Many
cats can be trained to walk on a leash – so why not give it a try?

If you feel your dog or cat is still gaining weight even if you’re watching their
food and exercising them regularly, reach out to your local vet for guidance.

But how can you tell if your pet is too fat? Let’s break it down!

Is My Cat Too Fat?

Here are some things to look for to tell if your cat is too fat.

● When feeling for your cat’s ribcage, the buoyancy of your cat’s skin and
fat should feel the same as the back of your hand. You can easily feel it
with just a tinge or resistance.

● Weigh your cat. Domestic cats are ideally between 7 – 12 pounds, but of
course, the size – and breed – of your cat will also affect their weight.

● Does your cat have a noticeable waist? This is important to check for. If
not, then your cat needs to drop a pound or two.

● Does your cat have a tummy pouch? A little balloon of fat? If so, maybe
it’s time to get your cat in shape.

Consult your veterinarian.

Is My Dog Too Fat?

If you’re worried if your dog is too fat, here are some things to check for:

● When feeling for your dog’s ribcage, the buoyancy of your dog’s skin
and fat should feel the same as the back of your hand. You can easily feel the ribcage with just a bit of resistance. This varies a bit by breed, so be sure to check with your vet.

● Can you easily feel your dog’s spine and hip bones? If not, your dog may
need to drop a few pounds.

● Does your dog have a noticeable waist? This is important – if not, then
your dog may need more exercise.

Consult your veterinarian.

Remember, obesity in pets is not always due to too many treats and too little
exercise. Just as in humans, underlying health issues like diabetes, thyroid or
adrenal disorders can also cause weight gain in animals. If your pet is gaining
weight, or already overweight or obese, it’s time to schedule a visit to the vet.

 

 

Flea & Tick Prevention

Flea & Tick PreventionWe know you think your pup is pretty great…and we would agree! What we can also agree on is how not-so-great fleas and ticks are, and how much they like to attack our furry family members!

There is nothing more unnerving than finding a flea or tick on your pet. Suddenly every dusty corner, every patch of grass or couch cushion could be the new home to these nasty parasites, who are waiting for their next meal…this is the worst! Unfortunately, one of their favorite homesteads is the silky and warm fur of our beloved furry family members.

With the serious health risks associated with fleas and ticks that can affect your pet – and even your family – it’s important to protect your pet all year long. In addition to causing an incessant itching, flea bites can cause dermatitis, anemia, and can even result in permanent hair loss or other skin problems as a result of all the scratching by your pet. Ticks can carry an array of diseases including Lyme disease, which can cause arthritis and painful joint issues. So as the saying goes, “prevention is the best medicine” for sure!

Tips & Tricks: How to Keep Parasites Away From Your Pet

The first and most important step is to keep your pet protected with a flea and tick preventative year-round. In Arizona, there is no such thing as ‘flea and tick season’, so keeping them protected year-round is your best bet. Our veterinarians work with you to prescribe the right preventative for you and your pet, whether it be chewable, non-chewable, or topical protection methods. The preventative medications kill adult fleas, ticks, and any larvae present as well as continue to protect until the next dose is due. Talk with us at your next appointment about what medication will work best for your pet.

So You Found a Flea or Tick: What Now?

If you have started a flea and tick preventative because you already found a flea and or tick in your home or on your pet, it is highly recommended to consult an exterminator that can come treat your home and yard for parasites. It’s important to keep the rest of your pets – and family members – protected.

Check Expiry Dates

If you have flea and tick medications sitting in your cabinet that have expired, it’s time to throw them out! When the drug is administered past the expiration date, the true effectiveness of the medication decreases and puts your pup at risk of attracting fleas and ticks.

Outdoor Prevention

We all know that dogs love playing outside, and anytime your pet is exposed to an area that may harbor fleas and ticks, make sure to check your pup’s skin, ears, and armpits for these pests.  If you end up finding any fleas and ticks on their skin or suspected bites, contact us immediately.

Wellness Exams

Make sure your dog gets regular check-ups – both from us and from you! During their annual wellness exam with our team, we examine them for any parasites to ensure the preventative being used is working as expected. This allows us to detect any problems in a timely manner and provide any treatment if needed. Throughout the course of the year, make sure you are also taking the time to check your furry friend on a regular basis (run your hands slowly and thoroughly across the skin surface and throughout the hair of your pet at least once a month). It just takes a few minutes!

Prevention is a Must

Ultimately, fleas and ticks can be scary to your dog’s health and well-being. Fortunately, flea and tick prevention medications are readily available to help protect your furry family member from these nasty critters. For more information and to talk about what prevention method would be best for your individual pet, don’t hesitate to ask us at your next appointment. As your trusted partners in pet healthcare, we are here to help you give your pet a long, happy, and healthy life!

Heartworm 101

Heartworm preventionAs residents of Arizona, it once seemed that heartworm disease was not a big problem for our furry family members. It was easy for us to assume our furry family members are protected from heartworm disease since mosquitos are typically found in wet climates. However, the fact is that heartworm cases have increased exponentially over the last several years, having been documented in all 50 states – including a record of 397 positive cases right here in Maricopa County in 2018. With this in mind, we wanted to share some information about heartworm disease in order to help you make informed decisions on these important areas that impact the health and wellness of your pet.

What exactly is heartworm disease? Heartworm is a serious parasitic disease found primarily in dogs and cats. In reality, we are talking about actual worms, and potentially many of them (up to several hundred!). The worms can be up to a foot-long and live directly within the heart or the neighboring large blood vessels for years. As heartworm disease advances, it can result in a myriad of health complications for our pets including severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and can even be fatal.

How does a pet get heartworm? All it takes is a bite from a mosquito that is carrying the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is a carrier of the disease, which is why prevention is the best protection we can give to our pets.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease? Although there are minimal symptoms in the beginning stages, the longer the infection is present the more likely symptoms will arise. The most common symptoms are coughing, fatigue and decreased appetite. Because symptoms are usually well hidden in the early stages, prevention is key to help avoid the life-long impact that heartworm disease can have on our pets.

How do we prevent heartworm disease? Heartworm prevention is as easy as a monthly oral or topical medication that you can pick up at your next appointment. Heartworm medications cannot prevent infection from occurring but instead treats the disease by clearing out any existing heartworm larvae that were transmitted since their last monthly treatment. We also recommend an annual blood test to help ensure that the preventative is working as expected. With an annual test at our hospital combined with your commitment to providing the monthly preventatives at home, we have the best shot of protecting your pet from this preventable disease.

Why you should incorporate a heartworm preventative into your pet’s wellness plan:
We understand that adding a heartworm preventative can feel like a big step, adding a little bit of expense and time each month. However,
prevention is incredibly easy in comparison to the alternative – once your pet is infected with heartworms, treatment is costly and difficult for both you, and especially, your pet. Treatment includes antibiotics, steroids, preventatives, and monthly injections to kill the adult worms, as well as hospitalization for your pet, and ongoing treatment and testing.

Talk with us at your next appointment for more information on the preventative options for your pet. As always, we’re here to be your trusted partner to help ensure that your pet’s healthcare plan provides them with a happy and healthy life by your side! Find an AZPetVet location near you.