Have you met our newest vet Dr. Kelli Davis yet? Dr. Davis graduated from University of Minnesota in May and went to MSU for her undergrad. She did an externship with us over the winter and we liked her so much that we decided to hire her! Dr. Davis is originally from Grand Rapids. In her down time she enjoys playing tennis and sleeping. She has no pets… yet!
Bark and the Dark was a blast last weekend! Tons of our employees were able to go walk with their pets!
Zoo goes Boo is next ! Find our booth on Sunday, October 21st. We’ll have tons of candy for the kids.
Did you know that there is a National Veterinary Technician week? This year, it is October 10/14-10/20! Be thinking of how hard your technicians work to make your pet feel great!
In case you missed it, over the last few weeks we have had a large increase in the amount of mosquitoes we are seeing. Typically, people worry about how much of a pest they are for themselves but they can be quite a pest for our pets too. And most importantly, mosquito bites are the only way that heartworm disease is spread.
Heartworm disease effects both dogs AND cats.
Heartworm Disease in cats….
Heartworm disease in cats usually goes undetected unless they develop heart disease secondarily.
Outdoor cats are twice as likely to get heartworm disease than indoor cats because they have a higher rate of exposure to mosquitoes.
There are not many signs that your cat has heartworm disease, but the few signs your cat may have are dyspnea (difficulty breathing), occasionally coughing, and vomiting.
On physical exam we may not see any outward signs either. One thing we may notice is a new heart murmur. If we do any blood work we may see things like anemia and occasionally an increase in white blood cells. Radiographs may show an enlarged heart.
There are a few ways to diagnose heartworm disease in cats and the most common screening tool is the snap ELISA test. This can be done here in the hospital and requires a very small blood sample. Unfortunately, 40% of cases can test falsely negative depending on what stage of life the heartworm is at the time of testing, and further testing is required. If it test positive though, your pet is truly infected.
Unfortunately there is no true cure for heartworm disease in cats. Prednisone and Theophylline (a bronchodilator) can be used to treat them symptomatically but do not actually cure them. Some cats are “spontaneously cured” after the worms die if they have not reproduced due to their short lifespan in a cat host.
Prevention in cats includes Revolution or Heartgard monthly. We recommend monthly, year round prevention. And especially during consistent warm weather over 60 degrees in which mosquitoes thrive.
Heartworm Disease in dogs…
Heartworm disease in dogs is much more involved than it is in cats because dogs carry a higher burden of worms and dogs CAN be treated.
Dogs with heartworm disease also often present asymptomatic though depending on their level of disease, you may see an occasional cough, a lot of coughing, exercise intolerance, weakness, and/or fainting. Unfortunately you can also see heart failure secondary to the infection which can cause fluid build up in the lungs.
There are a few ways that we can test dogs for heartworm disease. The most common test is the snap ELISA test which tests for adult heartworms. We can run this test here in the hospital and recommend it is done yearly. We do require it be done before putting any dog (over 1 year old) under anesthesia. We can also look at a blood smear under the microscope to see if we see Microfilaria (heartworm larva).
On a blood work panel we may see anemia, increased white blood cells, changes to the white blood cells, and occasionally low platelets.
Dogs can, fortunately, be treated for heartworm, though it is a 6 month process. Our hospital protocol for treatment starts on Day 0 with a steroid and antibiotic. On Day 1 and 30 they receive a dose of heartworm prevention. On Day 60 they are hospitalized for the day, have radiographs, full blood work, and the first dose of Immiticide which kills adult heartworms. At this point we restart the steroid and recommend minimal activity for the next 30 days. At Day 90, they are again hospitalized and receive another treatment for the next 2 days. We will again restart steroids and require activity restriction for the next 6-8 weeks. At 6 months from Day 0, we will recheck a heartworm test. If it is negative, they have been completely treated. If it is positive, we will recommend retreating (starting over at day 1).
Why don’t we require heartworm testing under 6 months old? Because it takes 6-7 months for the female worms to fully mature and be detected on the ELISA snap test.
We carry multiple products in hospital for heartworm prevention (Revolution, Trifexis, and Interceptor Plus). Again, we recommend them monthly year round, but especially in the warmer months where the temperature is consistently over 60 degrees.
If you have any questions, let us know!