Happy Holidays!

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Keep your pets safe and warm!

Happy holidays from the vets and staff at My Zoo Animal Hospital! With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are few facts pet owners should know to protect their pets from holiday hazards. What hazards do the holidays present to animals? Here are few with tips to keep your pets safe this season.

  • Chocolate. Be sure to store any candy where your pet, especially dogs, can’t reach it. Chocolate is toxic to animals.
  • Poinsettias, mistletoe, lilies, and holly. All of these plants are toxic to animals. All of these plants can cause gastrointestinal upset. Mistletoe can cause damage to the heart. Some lilies (such as Tiger, Easter, and Star Gazer) can hurt the kidneys of cats in particular. It’s best to keep these out of your pet’s reach.
  • Holiday decorations. Christmas lights can be dangerous if your pet chews on the cords. Glass ornaments can cut the GI system, and tinsel can get stuck. If your pet has a tendency to chew on ornaments, move the ornaments out of your pet’s reach.
  • Christmas Trees. If you plan to put a Christmas tree in your house, be sure that it is properly secured so it doesn’t fall and injure your pet (or children). If you have a live tree, be careful your pet is not tempted to drink the water. Some live trees have preservatives or other additives that can be toxic if ingested. The pine needles can cause an upset stomach if eaten.
  • Gifts. Be sure not to place any food items under the tree as your pet (especially dogs) can sniff them out. Ribbon if eaten can get caught in the GI tract and cause serious damage if not removed surgically. As a child, Dr. Katie recalls an instance when the family beagle, Mr. Bailey, found a box of cookie mix wrapped as a gift under the tree. He ate the cookie mix, opened all the other presents looking for more food, and had diarrhea all over the house. Dr. Katie’s mother was less than pleased. Luckily for Mr. Bailey, he recovered and gifts were placed in a safer location in subsequent years.
  • Batteries. During the holidays, people tend to use more batteries for cameras and battery operated toys. If ingested, batteries can cause severe ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract. Be sure to dispose of used batteries properly, and store new batteries in a safe location.
  • Open doors. With company coming to visit more in the holidays, there is an increased risk of your pet running out the door. We recommend keeping the id tags up-to-date so people know how to get your pet back home. Microchipping is a very good way to identify your pet. Unlike a collar with tags, a microchip cannot be lost, and most veterinary clinics and shelters have microchip readers. If you would like for us to implant a microchip in your pet, give us a call! It’s a quick and easy procedure that can be performed within 15 minutes.
  • Holiday food. With so many delicious meals and foods, you may be tempted to feed your pets more table scraps during the holidays. It’s best to refrain from giving table scraps and stick to a species appropriate pet food as new foods can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Do not give your pets any meat with bones that may splinter or get lodged in the GI tract. Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Nuts can also be toxic (Macadamia nuts are particularly bad).
  • Candles. Candles can be appealing for pets to play with and possibly knock over and start a fire. Be sure to keep these out of reach!
  • Guests. Many pets can be stressed by having a lot of guests over. Always monitor your pet’s behavior when guests, especially children, are visiting. Provide a safe place, like a crate or kennel, where your pet can retreat from guests.

 

We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season this year! Happy holidays!

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Heartworm Protection

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With winter at our doorsteps, we commonly get asked “does my pet need heartworm protection in the winter?”   The answer to this question is…absolutely!   Here’s why:

 

Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes. You never know when that last mosquito will die for the season…or when the first one will hatch in the spring.   Furthermore, if the temperature gets a little warm (over 50F), mosquitoes may be able to come out of hibernation.   Heartworm prevention works in a completely different manner than flea and tick prevention. Heartworm prevention kills the baby heartworms that the pet has been exposed to over the last month.   So if you miss a dose, any heartworms your pet was exposed to over the last month have the opportunity to grow to adulthood. The preventatives only kill the baby worms. Heartworm preventatives also have other benefits. Most of them kill many intestinal parasites every month as well.

 

We have a variety of heartworm preventatives, and our doctor can help you pick the one that is right for your pet! Call us if you have questions or would like more information!

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Pregnant with Pets – Dangers of Dogs

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Ruby the dog

A few weeks ago, I wrote about cats and the expectant owner.   So what about dogs? Are dogs dangerous to pregnant owners? The answer is similar to what I said about cats. Generally dogs are safe to have when you pregnant, but some precautions should be taken.   Here are some tips to help keep pregnant women safe with dogs:

 

Make sure your pet is healthy and up to date on shots. A healthy pet is less likely to spread infection.   Are you a little behind on vaccinations? We’ll be happy to get your pet up to date, just give us a call at 573-875-3647.

 

Does Fido jump? Honestly, one of the biggest risks to the expectant mother from a dog is an impact to the stomach by a jumping dog. If your dog is a jumper, now is the perfect time to take him to obedience school. We have many excellent local training facilities and trainers, and you can call for a recommendation.

 

Obedience is important in general.   Does your dog have some annoying habits? There’s no better time to take him to a training class. It’s going to be even more important than ever that your dog obeys you and respects humans. Babies tend to behave unpredictably (from the dog’s perspective), make a lot of noise, and disrupt routines.   They also pull on tails and ears, and don’t necessarily respond to warnings from pets (like a growl). I’d recommend taking an obedience class with your pet. With the help of a trainer work on getting your dog used to having people handle every part of his body.   Dr. Katie occasionally has small visitors staying in her house, and she has found the commands “get in your bed” and “leave it” very helpful for keeping the children safe.

 

Wash your hands! As with any pet, we always recommend thoroughly washing hands after handling your dog. This is especially important while pregnant.   It’s also best to have someone else in your house clean up accidents or scoop poop. We all love puppy kisses, but it’s probably best to avoid letting your dog lick you when you’re expecting!

 

 

Remember, if you are expecting, it’s even more important for your pets to be healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Schedule an appointment today to get your pet checked out and up to date. Call us at 573-875-3647.

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Pregnant with Pets – Concerns about Cats

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Wear gloves and a mask!

In this photo, Dr. Katie is demonstrating proper personal protective equipment for litter box cleaning if you are pregnant. Pregnant women who clean the litter box should wear gloves and a mask, and thoroughly wash their hands when finished. Masks and disposable gloves are available at many stores and online.

Many people have had a lot of questions about being safe around animals during pregnancy.   The most commonly asked question is “Is it safe to be around cats when you’re expecting?” We hope to answer that question and maybe give a few more tips about being safe around pets when you or a loved one is expecting.

 

Is it safe to be around cats? The short answer is yes, but precautions should be taken to protect the mother. Generally when people ask this question, they have the disease toxoplasmosis in mind.   Toxoplasma is a parasite that can be very harmful to an unborn baby if the mother acquires the infection for the first time during pregnancy.   It can cause miscarriage, neurological defects (brain damage), blindness, and other symptoms. Some of these symptoms may not be apparent at birth, but they may become evident as the child grows.   Cats pick up this infection by ingesting small animals (mice, birds, etc). For this reason, we recommend keeping your cat indoors to minimize hunting of small prey.   Infected cats shed the parasite in the feces. It takes one or more days for the parasite to develop in the cat’s feces to an infective form.

 

How would a pregnant woman become infected with toxoplasma? Interestingly, most people acquire toxoplasma by eating undercooked meat or contaminated produce.   A pregnant woman can also become infected by inadvertently ingesting contaminated cat feces or inhaling litter dust while cleaning the litter box.

 

 

Here are some tips quoted directly from the Center of Disease Control on preventing toxoplasmosis (http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections-toxo.html):

  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant change the cat’s litter box daily. If this is not possible, wear gloves and clean the litter box every day, because the parasite found in cat feces needs one or more days after being passed to become infectious. Wash hands well with soap and water afterwards.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after any exposure to soil, sand, raw meat, or unwashed vegetables.
  • Cook all meat thoroughly; that is, to an internal temperature of 160° F and until it is no longer pink in the center or until the juices become colorless. Do not taste meat before it is fully cooked.
  • Freeze meat for several days before cooking to greatly reduce the chance of infection.
  • Wash all cutting boards and knives thoroughly with hot soapy water after each use.
  • Wash and/or peel all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Wear gloves when gardening or handling sand from a sandbox. Wash hands well afterward.
  • Avoid drinking untreated water, particularly when traveling in less developed countries.

 

 

Do you have questions? Feel free to give us a call at 573-875-3647. If you have an idea or a question you’d like answered on a blog, leave a comment here or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MyZooAnimalHospital)

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

Remember, if you are expecting, it’s even more important for your pets to be healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Schedule an appointment today to get your pet checked out and up to date. Call us at 573-875-3647.

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A Day in the Life of a Flea

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Hi!  My name is Mrs. Fleanice, and I am here today to talk today about what it’s like being a flea.

 

So I am a Ctenocephalides felis, or a cat flea.  Although I am called a cat flea, I can feed off any mammal.   My species is also the most common type of flea infesting dogs as well as cats.  I am a small (1 to 2 mm long), dark brown to black insect with a thin appearance, and I have very powerful hind legs that can propel me quite high (almost 1 foot) for my small size.

 

I had a very normal flea childhood.  My mother laid a salt-like egg that slid right off of the dog she was living on.  My egg resided in between the boards of a hardwood floor for a couple of days.  After about 4 days, I hatched into a flea larva (which looks like a tiny maggot).  It sounds quite gross, but as a larva, I fed on my mother’s and other family members’ poop.  Flea poop is a nutritious meal for flea larvae as the poop is essentially dried blood.  As I grew, I shed my skin a couple of times and went through 3 larval stages.  In ideal conditions (warm and humid), I began to spin a cocoon and became a pupa during my 3rd larval stage.  My cocoon is very sticky so I can stick to a host or gain a shell of dust and fine debris.  After about 3-4 weeks, I emerged as a beautiful butterfly…just kidding!   After 3-4 weeks, I became a full-fledged adult flea.   I found a comfortable dog to live on and started meeting boy fleas and partying!  So far I’ve produced over 100 eggs, and I plan to continue feeding, partying, and producing more eggs until the day I die!

 

Here are some really interesting facts about my life and fleas:

  • If I didn’t find a suitable host right away, I could have lived for months without a blood meal.  I would simply wait for an appropriate host to come by.  Sometimes while people are on vacations and their dogs are not at home, we party in their house.  So when the owners come home, a bunch of us have hatched and we’re ready to feed.
  • If you see me on your dog, then you probably have hundreds more fleas in the larval and egg stages in your house.  As adults, we only make up about 5% of the flea population.   That means for every adult flea you see, there are 95 more you’re unable to see.
  • Our eggs and larvae tend to accumulate wherever the animal we’re feeding on spends the most time.  We don’t really care if that’s a pet’s bed, a human’s bed where the pet sleeps, a couch, a dog house, or even the dirt in your back yard.  As long as the temperature and humidity are ok – we will survive.
  • When the temperature is between 55F and 90F, and the relative humidity is 92% we can go from an egg to an adult in about 14 days, but it can take 140 days when the environment is not as ideal.
  • We also carry a tapeworm that can be passed to dogs and cats if the animal happens to eat one of us on accident.
  • I can bite a pet up to 200 times per day!
  • There are a number of products that can kill us.  Because of our complex life cycle, your pet’s veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan that encompasses multiple life stages.  If you just focus on killing adults, you’ll continue to see fleas because of all the other stages of our life cycle.  Of course…as a flea, I recommend just letting us feed on you and your pets forever!

 

 

I hope you found my life very interesting.  Even though I love partying on your pet, I know Dr. Katie or Dr. Debbie would love to help you stop our party.  If you have any questions, call them today 573-875-3647.

Hi!  My name is Mrs. Fleanice, and I am here today to talk today about what it’s like being a flea.

 

So I am a Ctenocephalides felis, or a cat flea.  Although I am called a cat flea, I can feed off any mammal.   My species is also the most common type of flea infesting dogs as well as cats.  I am a small (1 to 2 mm long), dark brown to black insect with a thin appearance, and I have very powerful hind legs that can propel me quite high (almost 1 foot) for my small size.

 

I had a very normal flea childhood.  My mother laid a salt-like egg that slid right off of the dog she was living on.  My egg resided in between the boards of a hardwood floor for a couple of days.  After about 4 days, I hatched into a flea larva (which looks like a tiny maggot).  It sounds quite gross, but as a larva, I fed on my mother’s and other family members’ poop.  Flea poop is a nutritious meal for flea larvae as the poop is essentially dried blood.  As I grew, I shed my skin a couple of times and went through 3 larval stages.  In ideal conditions (warm and humid), I began to spin a cocoon and became a pupa during my 3rd larval stage.  My cocoon is very sticky so I can stick to a host or gain a shell of dust and fine debris.  After about 3-4 weeks, I emerged as a beautiful butterfly…just kidding!   After 3-4 weeks, I became a full-fledged adult flea.   I found a comfortable dog to live on and started meeting boy fleas and partying!  So far I’ve produced over 100 eggs, and I plan to continue feeding, partying, and producing more eggs until the day I die!

 

Here are some really interesting facts about my life and fleas:

  • If I didn’t find a suitable host right away, I could have lived for months without a blood meal.  I would simply wait for an appropriate host to come by.  Sometimes while people are on vacations and their dogs are not at home, we party in their house.  So when the owners come home, a bunch of us have hatched and we’re ready to feed.
  • If you see me on your dog, then you probably have hundreds more fleas in the larval and egg stages in your house.  As adults, we only make up about 5% of the flea population.   That means for every adult flea you see, there are 95 more you’re unable to see.
  • Our eggs and larvae tend to accumulate wherever the animal we’re feeding on spends the most time.  We don’t really care if that’s a pet’s bed, a human’s bed where the pet sleeps, a couch, a dog house, or even the dirt in your back yard.  As long as the temperature and humidity are ok – we will survive.
  • When the temperature is between 55F and 90F, and the relative humidity is 92% we can go from an egg to an adult in about 14 days, but it can take 140 days when the environment is not as ideal.
  • We also carry a tapeworm that can be passed to dogs and cats if the animal happens to eat one of us on accident.
  • I can bite a pet up to 200 times per day!
  • There are a number of products that can kill us.  Because of our complex life cycle, your pet’s veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan that encompasses multiple life stages.  If you just focus on killing adults, you’ll continue to see fleas because of all the other stages of our life cycle.  Of course…as a flea, I recommend just letting us feed on you and your pets forever!

 

 

I hope you found my life very interesting.  Even though I love partying on your pet, I know Dr. Katie or Dr. Debbie would love to help you stop our party.  If you have any questions, call them today 573-875-3647.

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Don’t Break My Heart – Heartworms

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Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of this holiday, we are going to write about protecting your dog’s heart from heartworms. Heartworms are parasitic worms that live in the lungs and heart of dogs. Dogs get infected with heartworms by getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Indoor dogs are at risk because mosquitoes can come indoors. When a mosquito becomes trapped in doors, your dog becomes one of the only sources for a blood meal.

Heartworm Life Cycle

Female heartworms living inside an infected dog release microfilariae (heartworm babies) into the dog’s bloodstream. When mosquitoes feed on this infected dog, they pick up the microfilariae. The microfilariae continue to mature inside the mosquito and become infective larvae. When the mosquito bites another dog, the infective larvae enter through the mosquito bite wound. Once in the dog, the worms take 6 months to mature into adult worms. Adult worms can live up to 7 years. Since the immature worms are only susceptible to the medicines used for prevention for a limited amount of time, heartworm preventatives must be given monthly. Monthly preventatives actually work by killing the immature heartworms already in the dog to prevent the adult heartworms from reaching and damaging the dog’s heart.

Clinical Signs

Signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of worms present and how long they’ve been in the dog. Signs include a persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, tiring easily during exercise, poor appetite, and weight loss. Heartworm disease can cause death.

Prevention

Heartworm disease can be prevented by giving a monthly heartworm preventative. These medications kill the immature worms before they reach the heart and lungs.

Treatment

Once a dog has adult heartworms inside its heart and lungs, treatment (performed by a veterinarian) involves injecting the dog with an adulticide (a medication that kills adult worms). These dogs must be kept calm for 6 months as they recover since the worms can dislodge and block blood flow. The dying worms can also cause a life threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). This is why patients are usually hospitalized for adulticide treatment and treated with other medications to prevent complications.

In order to keep your dog’s heart safe from these parasites, the best thing to do is to use monthly preventative. Prevention is the best medicine! We will blog about heartworm disease in cats in a future post.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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