Since we have been covering heartworm preventatives and now have a handy chart, we will use the next several blog posts to talk about each product in a little more detail. We hope this helps you to make a more informed decision as to which product is best for your pet. This week we will discuss ProHeart 6.
This is a big topic, especially during the summer. This is probably obvious since we have discussed it many times already. We stress how important prevention is, so which one is the best?
The answer is that in our region, they all are. As long as your pet is on a preventative, he or she will be protected from heartworm disease. The choice most often comes down to what is most convenient.
Convenience is different for everyone. Maybe you need a product that will do everything you need and is given once a month. Or maybe convenience means your pet likes the way it tastes. For some, convenience is bringing the pet to the clinic every six months for an injection.
To help you make this decision, I have formed a simple comparison chart of products available at Satilla Animal Hospital. Hopefully, this will help you in determining the best way to meet your pet's needs.
For more detailed information, click here to see our earlier blog post on the differences in each product.
We already know that in Southeast Georgia, heartworm prevention is a must. Flea prevention is often considered just as important because we can see how miserable these pests make our friends. What about ticks? We may rarely see them and we just pull them off and keep going. We may see a little red bump, but that too usually heals. So what is the risk of not using tick preventative?
First, ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and other blood parasites that can cause a severely sick animal. The signs typically include lethargy, weakness and joint pain. While it is true that these diseases are rarely diagnosed in our clinic, the risk may be reason enough for some people to choose a tick preventative.
Ticks can also cause paralysis. This is because some ticks can carry a toxin that when released will cause a pet to become completely paralyzed. The prognosis for this is usually good, but not always. In most cases, the tick is removed and the pet will regain use of its limbs in a day or so. Although the outcome is usually good, it is a very scary ordeal for a pet owner. This is another good reason to consider tick prevention.
Some heartworm products prevent heartworm disease and fleas. But unfortunately, currently there is no product to prevent heartworm, fleas and ticks with just one pill or solution. This means that administering tick prevention always requires the use of at least two products. This is why many pets are not protected.
As a veterinarian it is our responsibility to try to inform owners of the risks. What you do with that information is completely up to you. I can honestly say I do not push tick prevention on my clients when they tell me that they have never seen a tick on their pet. If this is truly the case, the pet may live such a sheltered life that the chance of them encountering ticks is very rare. In that situation the pet may not need tick prevention. However, if you have seen even one tick on your pet, that can enough to cause disease. The decision is up to each pet owner, but the responsibility of informing them lies on the veterinarian. Hopefully, you find this information helpful and can make an informed decision for your pet. As always, if you have questions about ticks and their diseases or prevention, contact us on facebook, the website or in person at Satilla Animal Hospital in Waycross, GA.
Some of you are probably skeptical of a veterinarian offering advice on how you can spend less money with them. Who does that? Well, the honest to goodness truth is that I would be very happy only providing preventative care to pets. Pets will occasionally become sick and there will always be mystifying cases to solve, despite best preventative practice. Therefore, job security and my interest is safe even if everyone followed these tips. Believe me, I would much rather fill my day vaccinating healthy animals than praying that a very ill animal responded to therapy. Hopefully you are convinced, but either way, here is the list:
1. Spay or Neuter your pet
As covered in an earlier blog, spaying and neutering adds years to a pet’s life and prevents some cancer and other diseases. Also most animals seen on emergency for being hit by a car are not spayed or neutered.
2. Heartworm prevention
Heartworm prevention will obviously cost money, but there is an option for almost every budget. Heartworm treatment can cost up to 1000 dollars for a sick animal and can be prevented.
3. Flea prevention
Fleas can cause anemia, but more than likely, the cost incurred will be due to treating a patient who has a skin infection and or “hot spots” related to flea bites and scratching.
Vaccinating helps to eliminate severe disease early on and later in life. It is rare for a pet who is vaccinated on a determined schedule becomes sick with certain viruses.
5. Don’t feed from the table/ Feed a quality pet food and the RIGHT AMOUNT
We covered this topic too. Good pet food is created to have everything your pet needs in it. It also doesn’t have a lot of extra things that your pet doesn’t. Feeding pets human food can lead to mild diarrhea and urinary issues or critical gastrointestinal disease and even bladder/kidney stones, which may require surgery. Finally, obesity is a growing problem in the pet population and these pets (just like humans) are at higher risk of many diseases like diabetes.
6. Annual bloodwork for older patients
The definition of older pet can vary. Ask your vet if unsure, but typically I consider it very important in pets 7 and older. Annual bloodwork does two things. It helps us determine a disease process early before it causes the patient to be ill. Secondly, running bloodwork before a patient is ill allows us to determine what normal parameters are. These vary from pet to pet and knowing this can help determine when a pet may be sick due to changes, or when they are normal but distract us from the actual cause.
In all fairness this is probably not an all-inclusive list, and it is by no means a guarantee. I can promise however, that if all of our clients followed this information, we would see a lot less sick animals and those clients would spend a lot less on vet bills. I would be able to continue (slowly) paying off my student loans due to the steady stream of preventative visits and we would all be happier J. If you have questions about the list visit us at Satilla Animal Hospital in Waycross, GA. Or find us on social media.
July 4th is, in my opinion, one of the best holidays of the year. We get to fire up the grill and visit with family. The sun is out and the weather is warm. There are firework displays and summer is in full swing. It is often a time when people get to take vacation and most of us have the day off from work. Ironically, those responsible for the entire holiday are still hard at work. Our servicemen and women are the reason we get to celebrate this holiday and we should remember and celebrate them this, and every, 4th of July.
I would also like to take this time to say thank you to the foundations that provide service dogs for the men and women who risk their lives for our freedom. Southeastern Guide Dogs is one such organization that raises and trains puppies to help our soldiers when they return home. They have a program called Paws for Patriots that places dogs with members of the armed forces when they return home. These dogs range from seeing-eye dogs to emotional support dogs. After talking to clients who depend on these pets, it has become obvious that these dogs are vital to many soldiers' recovery. It is heartwarming to know that these dogs can help support those who help support us.
Most of us can’t imagine the sacrifice made by our troops. We may think we know but, unless we have actually been in those combat boots, we can’t even begin to imagine. Service dogs can greatly improve the quality of life for our troops once home. So this 4th of July remember why we are celebrating this great holiday and be sure to thank the servicemen, women and dogs that keep us free.
Most people know that grapes, onions, chocolate and garlic can be toxic to pets. Most of us also know that Tylenol can kill cats (and dogs). And everyone knows that antifreeze is very poisonous. No one would fill their pet’s food bowl with these items, because we know it will make them sick.
However, we often seem unaware of the risks of feeding other human foods. Unless your pet has been seen on an emergency for pancreatitis, you may not have known that fatty human foods could make your pet very sick. It is so common that many veterinarians EXPECT to see several cases over the holidays.
Dogs and cats should be fed a quality commercial diet. If your pet does not have any special dietary requirements or diseases, almost any commercial pet food is good enough. There is a misconception that dogs are “wild” and should eat raw food. Feeding your pet raw food is the equivalent of eating raw hamburger meat every day. ANY raw meat, human or otherwise, has the potential to be loaded with bacteria. We already know this. We thoroughly cook ground beef and are careful to clean anything it contacts.
Raw meat is not the only feeding concern. Almost any meat prepared for human consumption can upset your pet’s belly. Many cases of pancreatitis, which can be fatal, can be linked to a pet accidentally eating fatty steak, hamburger, pork chop or even poultry skin. And often times sudden cases of GI upset requiring a veterinary visit involve a pet eating table scraps or food from the trash. There is even a condition termed “garbage gut.” You have my permission to GOOGLE it. Many veggies are ok and can even be used as a replacement to help dogs lose weight, such as green beans. But always ask your vet before feeding anything.
Many people will ignore this advice and continue feeding from the table. Many pets will never have a problem either. Some pets eat table food for years before experiencing any problems. Others may have diarrhea or vomiting episodes the first time, and may need to be seen by the vet. Some of these may develop pancreatitis.
There is nothing your vet can do to guarantee your pet will never get sick (or else I would package it and sell it to all of my clients). But feeding a regular and consistent pet food diet can go a long way toward eliminating some unwanted vet visits. So my advice is to tell your four legged friend you love them, by not giving in to their shameless requests next time you reach for a snack.
If you read last week’s post you’ve probably already spayed your pet, or you are on the way to the vet right now (stop reading and driving), or you have decided you want to have puppies. Hopefully, you really just want your dog to have puppies. If that’s the case, you already know some of the pros of having a litter (cuteness, puppy breath, etc.) So let’s take just a second and make sure we have considered all of the possible drawbacks.
Let’s take this form the top. The actual act of breeding a female dog can be expensive and risky. If the plan is to simply let the two dogs hang out together while the female is in heat that is one thing. But let’s say you want to breed your English Bulldog. In this case, they are gonna need some help. We have to determine when the female has ovulated, and the egg has matured and is ready for fertilization. This requires a series of hormone tests and cytologies. If we breed too early or too late it can affect the success and the size of the litter. Each of these trips costs about 100 dollars and depending on the results may need to be repeated four or five times to accurately time the breeding. Just gonna throw the two dogs together? Have they both been tested for brucellosis, are they both up to date on vaccines, is the female receptive, or are you going to end up having an emergency vet visit for both dogs to receive sutures?
Breeding an older dog increases the risk of a pyometra. Instead of puppies you get a big infectious bag of puss, and your pet will need an emergency surgery in many cases, just to survive.
Now let’s assume all of the above went perfectly smooth and as planned. You know, or should know, your dog will be having puppies in 60 +/- days. You expect that she will go into labor around 5:00PM when you get off of work on a Friday (Do you know what signs to look for?). Instead it is 3:00AM on a Tuesday and you have to be at work in 4 hours. On top of this they have been in labor for 5 hours and nothing, or one was delivered but now it has been several hours since the last. Do you know how many to expect? Is she done? How long do you need to wait before you frantically try to find someone to answer these questions? If you wait until the next morning will the puppies still be alive? If a puppy becomes breached, or stuck, what should you do? These are all real scenarios that occur, as often as not, when trying to breed dogs, especially for the first, and what you may have planned to be the only time. If you have to be seen for an emergency, are you prepared for the cost of x-rays, injections to increase or strengthen contractions, or even a c-section?
You have done all of your homework and were completely prepared for any of the above possible complications and your pet delivered 8 healthy Malti-Chi-Spaniels. Now you have a swimming pool full of feces and urine on your back porch. These are your new children for the next 8 weeks. You get to check on them, obsessively, every day and night including lunch breaks. You make sure mom doesn’t lay on them and you bottle feed the one she neglects 5 times a day. You postpone any trips to leave town and only go to the grocery store if absolutely necessary. Congratulations on making it to the toddler stage.
Raising puppies can be a lot of fun, but is always time consuming and rarely without cost. Breeding dogs often goes smoothly when proper preparations are taken, but has the potential to become a nightmare. Always know what you are getting into before you consider breeding a pet. Her life depends on it.
Should you spay or neuter your pet? The decision to have your pet spayed or neutered is a personal one, but consider the benefits before you make the decision.
When I was young I never had a pet that was spayed or neutered. Growing up in rural South Georgia, I ashamedly never even realized it was an option, and I certainly didn’t realize there were benefits. Had I known that neutering could keep my male dogs from straying as much, two of my male dogs may have not been struck and killed by cars. But decreasing wandering is just one of the many benefits of spaying and neutering.
Before I discuss what spaying and neutering does accomplish, I would like to discuss what it doesn’t do. Neutering (or spaying) is not a “sex change” operation. A male dog will not become more feminine and a female will not become masculine. A dog’s personality is developed early in life and is not changed by spaying or neutering at the recommended 6+ months of age (depends on breed). Additionally, Spaying does not make your dog fat. The reason a pet gets fat is the same reason we do. Not enough exercise and too much food. Because dogs are more mature and less “crazy” than they were as puppies, they are not burning as many calories. Finally, spaying and neutering does not cause a dog to be less protective. This again is a natural instinct, some dogs are more territorial than others, but spaying and neutering will not affect that drive, while it may decrease other types of aggression in some dogs.
So what will it accomplish? All well conducted studies have determined that neutered or spayed animals live longer. On average they reach 9.4 years of age, compared to 7.9 years for those not spayed or neutered. If that is not reason enough to spay or neuter, consider this:
Female dogs that are spayed before the first heat cycle are 99.95% less likely to get mammary cancer, which is the second most common cancer in dogs, and often carries a poor prognosis. Each consecutive heat cycle increases the risk dramatically. This is why I never recommend allowing a patient to go into heat, unless the owner is intent upon breeding her. If so, I recommend breeding as early as possible and then spaying. Also, spayed females do not get uterine or ovarian cancer, since these structures are removed. A spayed female dogs is also much less likely to develop a pyometra. Pyometra is a potentially fatal infection of the uterus in which the uterus fills with fluid, and in severe cases may rupture. Finally, a spayed dog can’t reproduce. This prevents unwanted puppies, and arguments between neighbors, that haven’t read this blog, with male dogs.
Male dogs who are neutered also benefit from the procedure. A male dog that is neutered will wander less. Often a male dog will leave home because they since a female dog is in heat. This can help prevent dogs crossing roads and potentially being struck by vehicles. Most patients seen on emergency in our clinic are not spayed or neutered. It also prevents your dog from being on the neighbor’s most wanted list when their female becomes pregnant. Additional health benefits include a major decrease in the risk of prostate cancer and other prostatic diseases. Finally, it eliminates any risk of testicular cancer and decreases risk of death due to infectious diseases.
All of the effects of spaying and neutering are too vast to discuss in this blog, but the procedure should be discussed with your veterinarian when your pet is a puppy. If you are intent on breeding your pet, consider the pros and cons of having a litter (I will discuss these in a future blog). Spaying and neutering will not guarantee your pet lives forever, but plays a major role in preventative medicine. We recommend all dogs that are not intended for breeding be spayed and neutered based on the most well performed clinical studies. Alternatively, if you still plan on breeding, make sure you know all of the risks and costs that can be associated with puppies. As always, if you still have questions or need more information contact us at Satilla Animal Hospital in Waycross, GA.
Since we have stressed the importance of heartworm prevention in previous blogs, I wanted to take the time to let you know about all of the options for flea, tick, and heartworm prevention options at Satilla Animal Hospital in Waycross, GA. In the exam room, I feel like there is sometimes an information overload when discussing options. This article will help explain what they are and hopefully help you make the best choice for your pet.
There are many products available, but no clinic will carry everything. Satilla Animal Hospital carries a variety of the most effective, affordable and convenient products. These products consist of flea, heartworm and flea, and flea and tick. Some refer to flea and tick or heartworm and tick products as multi or combo products. There is currently no one product for fleas, heartworms and ticks. See why it can get tricky having this discussion in a room?
Monthly (given once monthly) Flea products carried at Satilla Animal Hospital:
I can’t tell you what the best plan for every pet is, as we all have different needs. Some people like giving something every month and some do not. Some people like topicals and some do not. The most popular products are combination products that treat fleas and prevent heartworms. The next most popular choice is the Pro-Heart injection, in conjunction with either Bravecto or Seresto collar for fleas and ticks. Whatever your preference, come see us at Satilla Animal Hospital in Waycross, GA and we will help guarantee your pet is protected!
Is bloodwork just something we recommend to make more money? I have heard that many times and read it on the internet. The most insulting incident was when a car dealer was explaining options on a vehicle and said to me, “it’s kind of like telling your client we need some bloodwork.” In his mind, a relatively useless add-on that raises the price of a car was the equivalent to running bloodwork on a patient. I think the reason it was so insulting was because bloodwork is only recommended when needed and while it does increase cost, it also adds significant value.
When we, as humans, go to the doctor and they recommend bloodwork, we typically don’t bat an eye. We don’t question them because we know they think there is a reason for it, and we often even become obsessed with waiting for the results. Obviously, most of us aren’t as concerned because insurance will cover it in most cases. So cost to the client plays a major role in the decision to allow or decline the bloodwork to be performed on a pet. However, this doesn’t make it any less important.
Bloodwork typically consists of a CBC, Chemistry, Electrolytes and possibly a T4. CBC stands for complete blood count. It is exactly what it sounds like. An analyzer counts cells as they pass by a beam of light. These cells consist of Red and White blood cells. This test can be important in detecting anemia, an infection and more serious diseases. A chemistry tells us how the organs are functioning. The kidneys, liver, biliary system, pancreas, etc. can all be assessed with this test. Finally, electrolyte imbalances and endocrine disorders can often be diagnosed with electrolytes and T4. There is also other bloodwork that may have to be sent off to a lab.
There is a common belief that if my dog is not sick I do not need bloodwork. This may be true, however, the key to early diagnosis and prevention is to detect a problem before it makes your pet sick. Almost everyone has heard, “if they had caught it sooner.” We can’t predict when a patient has early diseases if they aren’t presenting any signs. With bloodwork we can often see signs of disease long before it becomes a problem. This is why in all dogs over seven years of age, I recommend running bloodwork annually. Sometimes, once the pet is sick, it is simply too late. It is also important to check bloodwork when your pet starts or changes some medications.
A physical exam is a wonderful tool and is by far the most necessary part of a visit. But, it does not provide a complete picture of your pet’s health. Bloodwork and a physical exam are used together to provide the best possible idea of a patient’s health. For example, I may notice your pet has bad breath on physical examination. With bloodwork I would be able to determine if your pet’s bad breath is due to kidney disease or an infection in his or her mouth.
Hopefully, this article will shed some light on the reasons a vet may request bloodwork. And hopefully, it will make you as a pet owner more comfortable in discussing it with your vet. A few things to take away:
Monday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Tuesday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Thursday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Saturday 9:00am - 12:00pm
511 S City Blvd
Waycross, GA 31501
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