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Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital Blog

Heartworm, Fleas and Ticks

Headsup: we're heading into peak season for heartworm, fleas and ticks. Before looping you in on some industry developments about fleas and ticks, a quick mention about heartworm. Even if you don't treat your cat or dog for heartworm every month as recommended, please do so for the next few months.  
It's easy for humans to forget prevention, mostly because they don't realize what's at stake! The short version is heartworm infection can get fatal with symptoms showing up relatively late in the process. Unprevented, heartworm can infect your animal through the bite of a Western Tree Hole mosquito. These mosquitos are particularly active now and have extra high numbers because of the wet spring we've had. 
In dogs, the worm eventually grows to 13 inches and sets up housekeeping in the pulmonary artery that supplies the lungs and the right side of the heart, slowing blood flow and compromising your animal’s health. Most animals respond to treatment, though treatment is no guarantee. From there, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to explain clogged pulmonary artery's ultimate results, if untreated. In cats, it's a bit more complicated, of course, with the signs mimicking asthma both on x-ray and with a chronic wheezy cough.
In the case of heartworm, the culprit is any infected mosquito. The risk increases in locations along creeks or near open space where coyotes roam. But, even indoor pets are at risk. Why? Bay Area coyotes are highly infected with heartworm and serve as a reservoir host. The incredibly common Western Tree Hole Mosquito carries heartworm. The mature mosquito picks up heartworm from the coyote, and then seems to seek the indoors where it is thought to be easier for the infected mosquito to fly. 
Coughing, exhaustion, weight loss, and especially coughing up blood or congestive heart failure are all concerning symptoms. If your animal presents symptoms, call us for an appointment immediately. Remember, we're open until 10pm on weekdays. Hopefully it is easy to understand why the best and most affordable approach you can take is heartworm prevention treatment. In theory, you could use treatment this month and next to help you start a good habit for monthly treatment (as recommended).
While we're discussing prevention, it happens to also be the beginning of flea and tick season. You can find a lot of good information right here on the website about fleas and about ticks.
Currently, in the field of veterinary medicine, there have been some seemingly exciting developments in flea and tick control for dogs. We use the word "seemingly" because we're scientists and require proof. As scientific-minded professionals, we want to examine any potential advances carefully, using a disciplined and thorough approach. You would expect nothing less. 
We are currently in the process of reviewing the research and discussing it amongst our veterinarians. As we develop consensus around any conclusions, we will certainly share them with you. It is worth mentioning that, irrespective of advancement potential, it's important to address the current flea and tick season. Now is the time.
If you already know what you need, please contact us and we will take care of you. If you don't know what you need, or wish to try one of the newest generation of products, the next time you bring your animal in for a wellness check, feel free to discuss it with your Vet.
And have a happy summer!

Rains are Coming, Time to Clean Up Pet Waste!

Did you know that recent water quality monitoring on the Coastside has shown that dog and other pet waste across the landscape, even in backyards, is affecting the health of our local creeks and the ocean? 


We're all hoping the upcoming El Niño will provide us with relief from the drought. As you clear your rain gutters to get ready, if you can spend a few minutes to make double-tripple sure your yards is clear of pet waste, that will help prevent the waste from entering creeks and the ocean.
The San Mateo County Resource Conservation District recently sent a reminder about pet waste in our local water resources. While everyone can find the few minutes necessary to make sure your own landscaping is clear of pet waste, if you happen to have a little more time, they are also looking for volunteers for their First Flush event to collect samples at various outfalls from Montara to Half Moon Bay. More information can be found on the San Mateo County Resource District website.

Canine Influenza

What's the deal with dog flu in the SF Bay Area?
We've taken questions from people who wonder if they can still take their dog to the dog park, or board their canine while on vacation. To sort fact from fiction, let's start with the fact that humans are NOT known to catch canine influenza.

139 Because it's a new flu strain, it made the news. People are concerned since canine influenza spreads through the air, and a dog can be contagious before showing symptoms. Hello. Grabs the attention.

Technically, there are two canine influenza strains -- H3N8 mutated from a horse flu virus and started in 2004 (so, it's been around a while), and the new virus, H3N2 mutated from a bird flu and didn't see an outbreak until March 2015 in Chicago. It has since been reported in more than a dozen states, including California, but not yet in the Bay Area.

Do not confuse the seasonal H3N2 human flu virus that sickened so many people last winter with the H3N2 canine flu. Despite the name similarity the viruses are unrelated.

Dogs exposed to H3N2 canine flu seem to catch either a severe case or a mild case with some showing no symptoms at all.  A mild case looks like kennel cough, although it may be a moist cough. You may see a little coughing, a little lethargy and a runny nose. It is not to be ignored. A severe version comes with a high fever and pneumonia. It would be difficult to ignore. Chicago reports most severe cases were in dogs under 1 year or over 7 years old.  

Particularly, if your dog socializes at the dog park or doggie day care, you'll want to keep a particular eye out for ANY of these symptoms: coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, fever or a general malaise.

If you see any of these signs, call us right away.

Please let us know if your dog is exhibiting any upper-respiratory symptoms. Only a physical exam and blood test can distinguish canine flu from kennel cough. If you, or we, suspect canine influenza, we will employ infection control measures such as examining the dog in your car or in our isolation area.

Infection prevention includes limiting your dog's interaction with other dogs, and reduced sharing of toys and bowls. You, yourself, may want to wash your hands and clothing after playing with other dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.

If you plan on boarding your dog while you're on vacation, and you have the lead-time you might want to ask your veterinarian about the canine influenza vaccine. Called the "Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8," it was licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2009. While it may not protect specifically against the H3N2 strain, it's suggested that the vaccine could make the canine flu less severe if contracted. If your dog is at a high risk due to lifestyle, you may want this vaccine, and/or the standard kennel cough vaccine, but only after consulting with your veterinarian.

As with other infectious diseases, extra precautions may be necessary for puppy dogs, elderly dogs, pregnant dogs, and dogs that are immunocompromised.


Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)

Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Jennifer Koo Jahyun, 35, of East Palo Alto who's car was hit by the CalTrain Monday evening. We simply can not fathom the heartbreak of those who loved her.
We also anguish over the car seat. While grateful no child was in it, we fear they now may grow up motherless. It's stunning, the unbearable dolor of so many from simply crossing a train track. Our heads can't wrap around it, and our hearts just tear.
The Ravenswood Avenue intersection is a major intersection, close to the Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital, which crosses the CalTrain tracks. It's a block away, and a short block at that. One of our staff heard the horrific crash and was third on the scene. For our staff, this crash isn't something we will forget any time soon.
Menlo Park Fire District Chief Harold Schapelhouman was quoted in the SF Chronicle article with a particlarly cogent reminder.
“Trains can’t swerve and they can’t stop very quickly,” he said. “If you find yourself in the path of a train, get out of the way, and if you are in a car that is stuck, get out of the car.”
We don't know the reason she couldn't get out of the car, but imagine that there had to be one. So, we'd like to add a little more to the Fire Chief's reminder.
Please, please, if you're walking across the tracks, remove your earbuds, and use caution. Use extra bonus caution. Respect the warning arm.
If you're driving across the tracks, don't start to cross the tracks until you actually see 2x your car's length on the other side. Don't assume the pace forward will continue. Traffic happens. Unless you can get all the way across -- and get all of your car all the way across, plus some more -- just don't even think about it.  Everything else can wait.
If you're coming into the hospital and want to contribute to the family, we are working with Caltrain to ensure that what we collect gets directly to the family.

Introducing Dr. Greg Bogatsky

Sailing on the deep blue waters of the Jade Sea past King's Landing, the city of Qarth, past the Red Keep, Dr. Greg Bogatsky may have had to shake his head to remind himself he wasn't really in a Game of Thrones episode. He was actually on vacation, sailing past Fort Lovrijenac and the Walls of Dubrovnik, each with their particular, dramatic stories to tell.

128 Dr. Bogatsky's own story has deep roots in medicine and in the Bay Area. Born and raised in San Francisco, his interest in medicine started early. From a young age, he pictured himself as a doctor. Since his mother was in nursing, Greg would often talk to her doctor friends about which medical path to take. The question was not whether to become a doctor. It was always which kind of doctor to become. His love of animals undoubtedly came up in conversation, since several of them suggested that he seriously consider becoming a veterinarian. 

Going into undergrad at U.C. Davis, he took the prospect of Veterinary school over Medical school quite seriously, and decided to immerse himself, by taking an internship at a goat farm. From the very first day of his freshman year, at 6am with a fresh cup of coffee, he was at the farm. Naturally, he milked the goats. He also learned how to work with the male goats to test whether the females are in heat. When they are, the males goats give off a musky smell which is unlike anything else. Sincere dedication is required to go to class smelling like that for the rest of the day. 
These days, he happily forgoes the goat musk to work with dogs and cats back here in the Bay Area. He likes the idea of helping, and of combining medicine and science. Dogs, in particular, really warm his heart. Nevertheless, whether large animals, farm animals, felines or canines, he respects and cherishes what all animals mean to their people.
Dr. Bogatsky's particular areas of interest are internal medicine and surgery. Challenging medical cases really motivate Greg. Whether or not surgery is involved, or whether or not a challenge is involved, veterinary medicine is all about a successful outcome in the end. That can also mean helping with the more routine aspects -- immunization, client education and regular patient checkups.
When Dr. Bogatsky's not working with animals, you can often find him fixing things -- like his classic 1975 Toyota Landcruiser or houses. Even when he was in Vet school, he would take time to help his Dad work on the apartment building the family purchased. It was a real fixer upper, but it had great bones. One unit in particular became Greg's focus. He gave it a new kitchen, a new bathroom, rehabbed the windows, doors, plaster and hardwood flooring. Ultimately also a successful outcome, the apartment is now his home.
When he's not fixing houses, or fixing animals, Dr. Bogatsky is a pretty avid skier in the winter, and does a bit of cycling in the summer. Of course, there's also the occasional sailing vacation off the stunning coast of Croatia.