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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 midpen.com 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!
 
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