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Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies? Signs and Treatment

Can Dogs Have Seasonal Allergies? Signs and Treatment

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we field questions from dog owners every day about dog behavior, diet, and health. Sometimes, pet parents are surprised by our answers. 

For instance, did you know that your dog can smell your feelings? Or that a study at the University of San Diego California claims dogs can experience jealousy? 

Sometimes, our answers aren’t just surprising, but humbling. After all, once you learn that the average dog can understand approximately 150 words, you quickly realize that your dog understands you much better than you understand him. 

Over the years, we’ve found that one answer that consistently surprises new pet owners is our response to “do dogs get seasonal allergies?” The answer is: YES. While most pet parents have friends or family members with seasonal allergies, they may never have cared for a pet who suffers from allergies before.  

When your dog is uncomfortable, your goal is always to find out what’s causing it and do everything you can to eliminate it. You shouldn’t attempt to diagnose and treat allergies on your own, though. 

If you suspect your dog is experiencing seasonal allergies, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They’ll conduct an examination and talk to you about your dog’s symptoms before suggesting tests to rule out other conditions that can share overlapping symptoms. 

What Are Allergies in Dogs? 

Like humans, dogs can develop an allergic response to different types of food or ingredients. Some dogs can develop seasonal allergies to substances in their environments, like dust, pollen, and grass, too. 

Dog seasonal allergies are just like the seasonal allergies humans experience. Though the substances that trigger an allergic response aren’t generally harmful to people or pets, some dogs’ immune systems respond to them as though they are.

Seasonal allergy symptoms in dogs tend to overlap with symptoms of other conditions, as well. This can make diagnosing your dog with allergies challenging. If your pet is displaying any new symptoms, you should schedule a visit with your vet before attempting any dog seasonal allergies home remedies. Since your dog can’t tell you what’s wrong, though, it can be helpful to learn its signs, symptoms, and common causes. 

What Dog Breeds are Most at Risk?

After asking “can dogs get seasonal allergies,” the second question most dog owners have is, “what dog breeds are most likely to have allergies?” 

Although any dog can develop seasonal and environmental allergies, some breeds are predisposed to them. Dozens of dog breeds share the (unfortunate) genetic disposition to allergies, including: 

  • American Pit Bull Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Bull Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pugs

Regardless of whether your dog’s allergies are due to a genetic predisposition, you should talk with your vet about how their breed affects their allergy treatment and prevention. For example, pugs, bulldogs, and other breeds with prominent skin folds benefit from having their faces and necks wiped down daily. This daily cleaning routine helps to keep them clean, reduces the risks of skin infections, and can remove traces of any environmental triggers such as pollen or grass that they may have encountered during the day. 

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to any number of environmental substances. Some of the most common seasonal allergies that affect dogs are: 

  • Grass
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Fungi
  • Fleas
  • Dust

A dog’s allergy triggers will also be influenced by where he lives. The immune system can only develop an allergic response to a substance it has encountered before. The more frequently the allergen is encountered, the more opportunities there are for the immune system to mount an (over) reaction to it. Because of the way allergies develop, dogs can develop allergies at any age to any substance, even one they’ve encountered in the past without any problem. 

Though the symptoms of dog allergies can also be caused by other health issues, it’s useful to understand how your dog might respond to seasonal allergies. The majority of environmental allergies in dogs presents with skin and ears:

  • Itchy, flaky, or red skin
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Ear infections
  • Head shaking or ear scratching
  • Smelly ears or ears that appear dirty

Other symptoms to look out for that might indicate your dog has seasonal allergies are: 

  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Paw licking

Every dog will respond differently, and they won’t all show their discomfort in the same way, so you should always never try to diagnose your dog without a visit to your vet. 

How to Treat Allergies in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dog seasonal allergies, but you can treat your dog’s symptoms to reduce or eliminate their discomfort. Once your vet has diagnosed your dog with allergies and run tests to identify their allergy triggers, they’ll develop a treatment plan that may include a combination of prescription and over-the-counter medications along with environmental or behavioral changes. 

Seasonal Allergy Medicine for Dogs

Unlike humans, histamines don’t tend to play a big role in dog allergies which is why over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin and Benadryl almost never work. Human allergy medications may sometimes be recommended as last resort medication in order to hold your dog over until their vet appointment. However, the dosage for dogs is not the same as it is for humans, and not all dogs are good candidates for some formulations. You should never provide any human medications to your dog without consulting with your vet first. 

If your dog’s allergies are severe or they are suffering from secondary infections, as well, your vet may prescribe a course of Apoquel, Cytopoint, Prednisone, and sometimes Cyclosporine. 

Other Dog Seasonal Allergies Treatment

Frequent bathing with an oatmeal-based soap or other allergy-safe cleanser may help give your dog some relief and remove airborne allergens from his skin and coat. You can also make some changes to your dog’s environment to help them avoid known allergen triggers. This may include changing your walking routine (pollen levels are typically highest early in the morning and in the late afternoon), upgrading your home’s air filters, and regularly washing your dog’s bedding and other washable surfaces in hot water. 

Conclusion

While there’s no cure for allergies and you can’t prevent your dog from having them, you can help alleviate the discomfort caused by your dog’s seasonal allergy symptoms. The first step in getting dog seasonal allergies under control is paying a visit to your veterinarian. 

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we provide compassionate and comprehensive pet care that incorporates behavioral health practices and traditional medicine. Our mission is to always provide excellent customer care to pets and their people, and ensure we educate and partner with owners so they can take an active role in their pet’s wellness. If you suspect seasonal allergies are behind your dog’s symptoms or have questions about dog seasonal allergy medication and treatment, contact us today to talk to a member of our team or schedule a visit. 

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9 Diet & Nutrition Tips to Keep Your Pet Healthy

9 Diet & Nutrition Tips to Keep Your Pet Healthy

The bond between people and their pets is undeniable. When you adopt pets, they become a part of your family, and you want to do everything you can to keep them happy and healthy. 

You know diet plays a significant role in your health and wellbeing, and the same is true of your pet. If your dog or cat eats a diet lacking the necessary nutrients, the deficiency will reveal itself in noticeable ways. 

At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we know pet parents want to provide their furry family members with a safe and nutritionally appropriate diet. Still, it can often feel like a daunting task. In the United States, pet owners collectively spend more than $31 billion on pet food each year. The sheer variety of available options alongside conflicting messages about pet nutrition can make it challenging to know what diet is best for your pet’s health. So, we have assembled this guide to help pet parents like you cut through the confusion and make informed decisions about your pet’s diet plan. 

Tip 1: Feed your pet a balanced diet that meets AAFCO standards

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes guidelines for nutritional requirements, standard ingredient definitions, feeding trials, laboratory nutritional analysis, and product labels for pet foods. Pet foods that meet or exceed AAFCO nutritional adequacy standards will include a statement on its packaging stating whether the food contains essential nutrients, how this was determined, and for which life stage. 

When you’re shopping for pet food, you should look for the AAFCO statement on the label to ensure the product is complete and balanced for your pet and their life stage. If your pet has additional dietary needs determined by their breed, lifestyle, or health concerns, you should discuss these with your veterinarian before making any changes to their diet. 

Tip 2: Avoid raw food diets

Though raw food diets for cats and dogs have gained popularity in recent years, the CDC, FDA, and many veterinarians caution against it. The risks of feeding your pet a raw diet are well documented, and there is no evidence a raw diet for pets has benefits to outweigh these risks. Raw pet food, even those sold commercially, has been found to contain germs like listeria and salmonella, which can cause you, your pets, and your family to get sick. Raw diets are also unlikely to provide your pet with the complete and balanced nutrition they need, which can cause other health problems both now and in the future. If you have further questions regarding raw food diets, please consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. 

Tip 3: If you plan on feeding your pet home-cooked meals, consult with a veterinary nutritionist first  

Commercial pet foods are designed and tested to ensure your pet gets the right amount of nutrients for their developmental needs. Many pet owners who wish to cook their own pet food underestimate how challenging it can be to achieve the right balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that their pet needs to stay healthy. 

Certain pets should never be fed home-cooked diets, including cats and most dogs under 12 months old, pregnant or nursing pets, overweight pets, and any pet with ongoing or unaddressed allergies or health concerns.  If you plan to provide a home-cooked diet for any other pet, it is vital that you do so in consultation with a veterinary nutritionist who can evaluate your recipes and recommend changes or supplements. 

Tip 4: Unless your veterinarian feels it is medically necessary, avoiding feeding dogs a grain-free diet

Though grain-free diets for dogs have frequently popped up on store shelves, you should avoid feeding your dog a grain-free diet except under the direction and care of your vet. An FDA investigation into 515 dogs diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) found 90% of them were fed a grain-free diet. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to DCM, but veterinary cardiologists have noted an increase in DCM diagnoses in breeds without a genetic predisposition. If your veterinarian feels a grain-free diet is appropriate for your dog based on other health factors, they should monitor them closely for signs of DCM. 

Tip 5: Pick a protein and stick with it 

We humans may believe variety is the spice of life, but that is not the case for our pets. If you change your pet’s food frequently, you could inadvertently risk their health. Frequent food changes can upset their GI tract and lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Anytime you introduce a new ingredient to your pet, you should do so slowly by incorporating it into their typical diet and closely observing for any health or behavioral changes. Furthermore, if your pet is eating without showing any signs of allergies or intolerance, there really is not any reason to introduce new foods. Many pet parents wrongly believe they can reduce allergies in their pets by exposing them to a variety of proteins. Unfortunately, the opposite is true–the more proteins your pet is exposed to, the more likely they are to develop an allergy. If you plan to transition your pet from one protein to another, talk to your veterinarian first to understand how to do so safely.

Tip 6: Establish a twice-daily feeding schedule

Failing to establish a healthy meal routine is one of the most common mistakes pet owners make. If food is always available, pets who graze throughout the day tend to overeat, which could lead to obesity. Pets who are fed only once per day may develop bilious vomiting syndrome, which occurs when stomach inactivity aggravates the bile reflex, causing bile to enter the stomach. Once bile enters the stomach, your pet may vomit or, if they don’t, they may develop gastric reflux.  

A twice-per-day feeding schedule is ideal in most situations, though some pets may benefit from smaller portions spread across more feedings. If you are unsure what schedule is best for your pet, talk to your vet. 

Tip 7: Do not feed your pets table scraps 

It can be hard to resist those pleading puppy dog eyes, but when your pet is begging for a taste of your family’s dinner, the best thing you can do for them is refuse. When you feed your pet table scraps or other human food, they can easily exceed their daily intake needs, leading to weight gain. In addition, many human foods can cause stomach upset or allergic reactions, and some may even be toxic. If you are snacking on a healthy treat, such as green beans or carrots, it is okay to share a few bite-sized pieces with your dog. For all other human foods, resist the urge to give in to your pet’s pleading. 

Tip 8: Don’t give your dog hard bones 

Few things seem more natural than a dog with a bone. What many dog parents don’t know, however, is that hard bones can cause serious injury. The FDA cautions pet owners against giving bones to dogs, citing instances of injuries to dog’s teeth, tongues, and mouths. Bones can also splinter, causing pieces to get stuck in a dog’s digestive tract and requiring surgery to remove. Though you will find no shortage of bones, hooves, and other hard treats for dogs lining the aisles of your pet store, you should follow the fingernail test before giving your dog a bone–if it’s too hard to indent with your fingernail, it’s too hard for your dog to chew.

Tip 9: Annual dental cleaning beginning around 3 years of age

Most pet parents know their dogs and cats need to visit the vet each year for an annual check-up, but some are surprised to learn they should bring them in for annual dental cleaning, as well. Though your vet will talk to you about when your pet should have its first dental cleaning, most pets should begin having annual dental cleanings by the time they turn 3 years old. Regular at-home cleanings along with annual dental cleanings keep plaque, tartar, and bacteria at bay. This, in turn, protects your pet from tooth loss, gum disease, and even heart and kidney problems that can develop as they age. 

Conclusion

We know you want to keep your pet healthy and happy, and we are here to provide the expert care and advice you need along the way. At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we focus on the health and overall well-being of every pet who visits us. Our practice combines behavioral health with traditional medicine at our state-of-the-art animal wellness facility, where we provide your pet with compassionate and comprehensive care. Whether you have questions about your pet’s diet or need to schedule your annual wellness exam, our caring team is here and happy to help – contact us today. 

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Can Pets Have Food Allergies Too? Yes, They Can!

Can Pets Have Food Allergies

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we know that your pets are an important part of your family.

When you adopt a pet, you are not only inviting a new family member into your heart and home but accepting the responsibility to provide for their health and wellbeing. We all know that when your dog or cat starts showing signs of discomfort, your top priority is to find the source and eliminate it. While many pet parents are familiar with allergies, some are surprised to learn that dogs and cats can suffer from allergies, as well.

Like humans, dogs and cats can develop an allergic response to substances in their environment, such as dust, fleas, pollen, and mold. But did you know that both dogs and cats can also develop food allergies?

Food allergy symptoms often overlap with symptoms of other conditions. So, if your pet is displaying new symptoms that you believe could be triggered by something they are eating, your first call should always be to your veterinarian. However, understanding the signs, causes, and treatment of food allergies can help you gather valuable information to share with your vet so she can make an informed diagnosis and create a treatment plan for your furry family members.

Allergy Symptoms in Cats and Dogs

Though some cats and dogs experience respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, and coughing in response to allergens, many symptoms of allergies in dogs and cats are seen on the skin. If your pet shows any of these symptoms or behaviors, she may be suffering from a food allergy:

  • Itching and skin inflammation that presents year-round
  • Over-grooming, wounds, hot spots, or hair loss
  • Recurrent infections of the skin or ears (or both)
  • Frequent licking of the paws, flanks, or groin
  • Skin rashes or hives

Some animals with food allergies will also experience gastrointestinal distress, such as flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, or any other new behaviors, you should schedule a consultation with your veterinarian.

Caring for a Dog with Food Allergies

Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies at any time, even if they’ve never had an allergic reaction before. The longer your pet is exposed to an allergen, the more intense their allergic responses can be. So, it is crucial to identify and eliminate your dog’s allergens as soon as you notice signs of discomfort. While allergies can never be cured, you can eliminate the symptoms by removing the allergen from their diet.

Your vet will want to conduct a complete examination to rule out other conditions. They may also order skin and blood tests, though there is not one definitive food allergy test. If your vet suspects a food allergy, they will likely ask you to conduct a food trial that typically lasts 6-8 weeks, though more time may be needed depending on your dog’s diet and symptoms.

  • How common are food allergies in dogs?

Among dogs with allergies, approximately 10% are food-related. When your dog develops a food allergy, its immune system “overreacts” and produces antibodies in response to the offending ingredient.

  • What are the common signs of a food allergy in dogs?

Dogs with food allergies may experience itchy skin, rashes, chronic ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. Often, pet owners notice their dog constantly licks or scratches one part of their body, such as the paws or groin. Some dogs may develop skin infections in their neck or ears that do not respond well to treatment or return as soon as the treatment is stopped. If your dog frequently rubs their neck, head, or ears against carpet or furniture, or you notice skin irritation or hot spots, these may be signs of a food allergy.

Your dog may also display gastrointestinal symptoms after eating an allergen. Repeated vomiting, belching, excessive gas, unusually frequent bowel movements, and diarrhea may all be food allergy symptoms.

  • What could trigger a food allergy in my dog?

Though some breeds are pre-disposed to allergies, food allergies can develop at any age in every breed. Dogs can develop food allergies, even if they have been on the same diet for a long period of time. Any food can cause an allergic reaction in dogs, but some of the most common dog allergies are triggered by chicken, beef, salmon, dairy products, eggs, lamb, and soy. 

The best pet food for dogs with skin allergies and other allergic reactions will depend on your dog’s allergy triggers and other factors that influence their nutritional needs. Your vet will work with you to develop a diet that is appropriate for your dog.

Caring for a Cat with Food Allergies

If you suspect your cat has food allergies, you may be tempted to scour the pet store for allergy-free pet food brands. However, you should always consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your cat’s diet.

Your vet will first want to examine your cat to rule out other conditions. If no other cause of your cat’s symptoms is found, a trial diet will help identify the allergens that trigger your cat’s response. Your vet will then work with you to develop a diet plan that provides complete nutrition for your cat while avoiding their allergy triggers.

  • How common are food allergies in cats?

Among cats with allergies, food allergies are the third most common type of allergy. Just as in dogs (and humans), cats with food allergies have an immune system overreaction in response to an allergen, which triggers the development of antibodies.

  • What are the common signs of a food allergy in cats?

Cats experiencing allergies in response to food may display a range of symptoms, varying from one cat to the next. 

Excessive grooming can be a sign that your cat is experiencing skin itchiness or inflammation. You may also notice reddened skin or hair loss on a cat with food allergies. Chronic ear and anal gland infections can also be a sign of food allergies in cats, and some cats may exhibit symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

  • What could trigger a food allergy in my cat?

Many cats with food allergies develop them between the ages of two and six, but cats of any age are susceptible. Cats and dogs can only form an allergy when they have been previously exposed to the allergen, and their immune response can become more severe with repeated and sustained exposure. Though any ingredient may cause an allergic reaction, some common culprits behind cat food allergies are beef, milk, lamb, wheat, corn, egg, chicken, tuna, and salmon.

Compassionate Veterinary Care for Your Pets

If you suspect your pet’s food is causing them discomfort, it can be tempting to head straight to the pet store to stock up on food for pets with allergies. However, if your dog or cat has a pet food allergy, switching their diet can make it more difficult for your vet to diagnose your pet and pinpoint the offending ingredients.

Many diseases and conditions can mimic the symptoms of pet food allergies, so it is essential to contact your veterinarian before making any diet changes. In most instances, your vet will want to see your pet in the office so they can thoroughly investigate your pet’s symptoms and check for bacterial infections, parasites, fungal infections, and other conditions with overlapping symptoms.

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we provide compassionate, wellness-oriented care for every pet who visits our practice. Our holistic and comprehensive approach to veterinary care incorporates wellness planning to enhance your pet’s quality of life. If your dog or cat is exhibiting food allergy symptoms, our veterinary technicians and board-certified veterinarians will examine your pet and perform tests to rule out other conditions. If your pet’s symptoms indicate food allergies are behind them, we will work with you to identify the foods that trigger your pet’s symptoms and develop an allergy-free pet food diet plan to alleviate the symptoms and return your pet to a high quality of life.

Conclusion

There is no cure for food allergies. However, with ongoing dietary control and support, the prognosis for dogs and cats with food allergies is typically quite good.

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, AZ, we incorporate traditional medicine and behavioral health practices to provide compassionate, comprehensive care that promotes the health and wellbeing of all our patients. We know how concerning it can be when your family pet is not feeling its best, so we make it our mission to provide excellent customer service and straightforward, consistent communication with our patients’ owners so you understand your pet’s needs and can act as an informed partner in developing their care plan. If you have questions about your pet’s symptoms or suspect food allergies are behind them, contact us today to talk to a member of our staff and schedule an appointment. 

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Can dogs have diabetes? Here’s all you need to know.

While you’re likely to know someone with diabetes, if you’re like some pet owners, you may be surprised to learn that diabetes can be present in pets, as well. Just like humans, dogs and cats can develop diabetes mellitus in one of two forms:

Type I Diabetes: This type of diabetes, also known as insulin-deficient diabetes, is present when a pet cannot produce or does not produce enough insulin.

Type II Diabetes: Type II Diabetes, or insulin-resistant diabetes, in dogs occurs when a dog’s body makes insulin, but either doesn’t produce enough of it or has an insensitivity or resistance to insulin.

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, AZ, we know you want your dog to lead a happy and healthy life. As the only animal wellness center in the area, the health and wellbeing of every animal we treat is our focus. We’ve put together this guide to provide you with more information about the signs and symptoms of diabetes in dogs, as well as the types of treatments available.

Are you concerned that your dog is exhibiting symptoms of diabetes? Please contact your veterinarian to schedule a visit and discuss your concerns. While you may find the content in this article helpful, it is not a replacement for veterinary care and treatment. 

What is Diabetes in Dogs?

Nearly all dogs with diabetes present with Type I Diabetes. Though rare, dogs can develop Type II diabetes. Though the type identifies the cause and determines how to treat diabetes in dogs, the effects on your dog’s body are the same.

When a dog suffers from diabetes, excess sugar builds up in their blood where the cells that need it cannot access it. Starved of the fuel they need for specific organ cells and muscle cells to function, a dog’s body will begin to break down fats and protein in the body, while high glucose levels in the bloodstream cause damage throughout the body to nerves, blood vessels, and organs.

Upon learning that their dog has diabetes, many owners are interested to know what causes diabetes in dogs and wonder if it can be cured. While there is no cure for diabetes in dogs or any other animal, this chronic condition can be managed successfully. Though it isn’t always possible to pinpoint the cause when a dog develops diabetes, some common factors are present more frequently in dogs with diabetes:

Genetic predisposition: Dogs with diabetes may have affected relatives, just as humans do.

Breed: Certain breeds seem to be predisposed to developing diabetes, including (but not limited to):

  • Beagles
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Keeshonds
  • Pulis
  • Miniature Pinschers
  • Samoyeds
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Dachshunds
  • Poodles

Medical conditions: Dogs diagnosed with certain medical conditions may be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. The conditions most commonly associated with canine diabetes are:

  • Cushing’s disease
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitis

Sex: Female dogs may develop temporary insulin resistance while pregnant or in heat. 

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

What are the signs of diabetes in dogs? All dogs are different, so their symptoms will vary. Early on in their dog’s disease, owners may notice some of these signs, which can be early symptoms of diabetes:

  • Increased or excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • weight loss or weight gain

As a dog’s disease advances, they may experience more pronounced symptoms, including:

  • Decreased or lack of appetite
  • Decreased or lack of energy
  • Depressed demeanor or other changes in attitude
  • Vomiting

If diabetes isn’t diagnosed and treated until late in the disease’s development, dogs may experience significant health threats, including:

  • Seizures
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cataracts
  • Kidney failure
  • Ketoacidosis

Diabetes Diagnosis in Dogs

Diabetes can develop at any age, but it presents mainly in dogs aged five or older. Though some breeds appear predisposed to diabetes, mixed-breed dogs develop diabetes at or close to the same rate as pure-breed dogs. If you’re concerned that your companion is showing symptoms of diabetes or is exhibiting other behavioral changes, you should schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a thorough examination. The sooner a dog is diagnosed and begins treatment, the better.

You should expect your vet to take a thorough medical history at your appointment. Since your dog can’t speak up for himself, your observations are the second-best thing, so be sure to provide as many details as you can. Since dogs may mask signs of pain or distress, any new or different behavior may be relevant and help your vet understand the complete picture.

If your vet suspects diabetes, she will discuss your dog’s symptoms with you and order a series of standard tests for diabetes in dogs. Typically, testing for diabetes in dogs includes running a urinalysis, complete blood count, and chemistry. These may reveal a high concentration of glucose in your dog’s blood and urine, electrolyte imbalances, or high liver enzyme levels may also be present. Your veterinarian may also suggest abdominal x-rays or ultrasounds if they suspect kidney stones or other abnormalities. 

Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs

Treatment for dogs with diabetes varies depending on the type of diabetes and any other health conditions or concerns present in your dog. A treatment plan for canine diabetes will include a combination of changes in diet and exercise alongside medications.

Medication: Just as humans with diabetes require daily shots of insulin, your dog may also need daily insulin shots. Though many owners experience some initial apprehension upon hearing this, most find that it’s not as difficult or painful for their dogs (or themselves) as they had feared. Your vet will help you learn how to inject your dog correctly, so it becomes a fast and straightforward part of your daily routine.

Exercise: Diabetic dogs require moderate but consistent exercise routines to avoid peaks and valleys in their glucose levels, so your vet will discuss your current exercise regimen and any changes necessary with you.

Diet: Diabetic dogs need to eat a diet of high-quality protein, typically with low-fat content and a balance of fiber and complex carbohydrates that help moderate glucose absorption. Your vet will discuss the type of food that’s best for your dog and may prescribe a prescription diet.

Monitoring: Your vet will discuss any signs or symptoms you should be on the lookout for and develop a home monitoring plan to test your dog’s glucose levels at home, and she may also instruct you to keep a ketones-testing kit on hand for at-home urine testing. 

Conclusion

When you adopt a dog into your family, you open yourself up to a whole new world of tail-wagging good times and plenty of tenderness too. Our dogs bring so much joy and affection into our lives, so it’s only natural that we can be quick to worry when we notice changes in their behavior. Sometimes, the new behavior is nothing to fret about. Other times, though, minor changes can be symptoms of a more significant underlying problem. When you notice a change in your pet’s behavior or activities, your first call should always be to your veterinarian.

While you may worry when your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, there’s no need to panic. With early detection and a supportive care team, most diabetic dogs go on to live happy, normal lives with their favorite humans.

Do you have questions or concerns about your dog’s health or symptoms? The caring and experienced team at Continental Animal Wellness Center is here to help. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we focus on the health and wellbeing of all our pet patients, incorporating traditional medicine and behavioral health into our compassionate and comprehensive care plans. Contact us today to schedule a visit for your dog or puppy. 

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All you Need to Know About Parvo Season in Northern AZ

Owning a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience. Although we wish dogs were always healthy and happy, unfortunately, just like humans they can get sick or hurt or catch a disease. Every new puppy owner or dog owner’s worst nightmare is the parvovirus. Parvo in dogs can come on quickly and be fatal. The good news is that parvovirus in dogs is preventable. It’s important to be aware of parvo symptoms and treatment in case your puppy catches it.

At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona we recommend puppies get the parvo vaccine starting at 8 weeks of age. This is the number one way to prevent parvo in puppies.

The most important tool you have for preventing parvovirus in your dog is to understand it. Learn exactly what the parvovirus is, how dogs can become infected with the virus, symptoms, and parvo treatment below. 

What Is Parvo (Canine Parvovirus)? 

So what exactly is the parvovirus? The parvovirus, otherwise known as the CPV, is a highly contagious virus found mostly in puppies and young dogs. It is an infectious gastrointestinal (GI) illness that can be deadly without treatment. What makes the disease so dangerous is how easily and quickly it can be spread.

Although there are two strains of canine parvovirus, the same disease is caused by both and the same vaccine will give protection against both. The disease first appeared in dogs in 1978, not that long ago. It has generated a great deal of public interest because of the severity of the disease and how rapidly it spreads.

How Do Dogs Get Parvo?

Parvovirus can be spread in a few different ways. Either by direct contact with an infected dog or through feces. Once the virus is ingested, it is carried to the intestine where it invades the intestinal wall and will cause inflammation. Often before an infected dog has started displaying any sign of infection, he can start shedding the virus. The dog will continue to shed the virus while he is sick and for up to 10 days after he has recovered. Because of this, accurate diagnosis and quarantine are incredibly essential for the health of all dogs involved.

The parvovirus can survive indoors at normal room temperature for at least two months. It is resistant to many commonly used cleaners and disinfectants. One of the few disinfectants known to kill the virus is bleach. A solution of 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach in one gallon of water will disinfect contaminated items such as food and water bowls. Although there are disinfectants that claim to kill the canine parvovirus, they are not effective. It must be chlorine bleach. Even more alarming is that the parvovirus can survive for months, and even years, outdoors if it is protected from direct sunlight. This is why hospital quarantine of the infected dog and proper cleanup of the environment is especially important.

Symptoms of Parvo in Dogs 

Young puppies less than 5 months of age are usually the most affected so it’s important to contact us at Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, AZ right away if you have a puppy that is exhibiting the two main symptoms which are severe vomiting and diarrhea. Often, diarrhea will have a very strong smell and may contain lots of mucus. It’s also possible diarrhea may or may not contain blood.

However, parvo can affect dogs of all ages so if you see these signs in an older, unvaccinated dog it will be important to get your dog tested for parvovirus immediately. Other symptoms can include depression and marked listlessness as well as a loss of appetite. If your dog displays any or all of the symptoms below it is important to contact us. even if your dog tests negative for parvo, exhibiting any of the following symptoms could be a sign of a different illness that needs to be treated:

  • Severe, bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Listlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Depression

How To Treat Parvo in Canines

The best thing you can do if you suspect your dog has parvovirus is to bring him to the vet. Parvo treatment cost can vary depending on the severity of the case. The first step will be to get your dog tested and then quarantined if that is necessary. We will provide your dog with the supportive fluids, nutrition, and medications needed. In many parvo cases where supportive care is started promptly, we are able to save their lives..

The first step towards preventing the spread of this highly contagious disease is understanding it. Make sure your puppy gets vaccinated, starting at 6-8 weeks. We offer a puppy package that includes the DAPP vaccine. If your puppy hasn’t been vaccinated yet be sure to keep them in a safe environment. As much as you want to bring the puppy with you everywhere, it’s important for their safety that they stay in a safe environment until they’ve had all their vaccines. Training classes and daycare can wait!

Conclusion

When you have questions about your furry family members, the caring and experienced team at Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, are here to help. Our practice focuses on our pet patients’ health and wellbeing, incorporating behavioral health and traditional medicine to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. Our state-of-the-art animal wellness facility in Flagstaff, Arizona, is equipped for complete animal care, from vaccinations and routine wellness checks to behavior consultations, sick visits, and more. Contact us today to schedule a visit for your dog or puppy.

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DIY Home Pet Care For Cats

DIY Home Care For Cats

Do I need to bathe my cat? What should I feed my kitten? My cat is scratching the mirror…is that normal

Whether you’re living with a new kitten or have shared your home with cats for years, cat behavior can raise a lot of questions. At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we’ve heard them all and are always happy to share our answers: 

  • Do you need to bathe your cat: Maybe! 
  • What should I feed my kitten: Quality kitten food. 
  • Is that…normal? As normal as a cat can be. 

This article addresses common questions, such as those above, about cat diets, health, fitness, and grooming. Keep reading for detailed answers to questions about DIY home pet care for cats to keep them happy, healthy, and safe.

Feline Health and Fitness

When you adopt a kitten, it’s hard to imagine that tiny bundle of energy turning into a lazy loafer. However, many cats without opportunities to exercise will do just that. So how do you give your cat a workout? It’s simple: play with them! 

In the wild, cats exercise every day while hunting their meals. Creating opportunities for your pet cat to practice her hunting instincts is all you need to give your cat a workout. Buy cat toys of various sizes and textures so she can exercise her instincts to stalk, chase, pluck, and rake her “prey.” Wand toys, laser pointers, and small toy balls can all get your cat moving and keep her activity levels healthy. 

Cat training also contributes to your cat’s overall well-being. While most new puppy parents expect to engage in training, some new cat parents are unsure how to train a kitten. Cats are just as trainable as dogs, though they require a different approach. You might be surprised by all the tricks your cat is capable of! 

Finally, take a look around your house and try to see it from your cat’s perspective. Is your home set up to allow your cat to eat, explore, and use the bathroom safely and comfortably? 

  • Cats are not pack animals, and most will feel most comfortable eating away from other pets. If you have dogs in the house, in particular, try to provide your cat a safe place to eat, either in a separate room from the dogs or in an elevated position. 
  • Scratching and climbing are instinctive behaviors in cats. Cat condos, climbing toys, and scratching posts provide enrichment for indoor cats and give them an outlet for these feline instincts. 
  • To minimize the potential for soiling or territorial behavior, you should always have one more litter box than you have cats. If you have one cat, your home should have two litter boxes; for two cats, you should have three litter boxes, etc.  

DIY Cat Grooming

Cats are most comfortable in familiar places, so car rides and trips to the groomer can be stressful. Luckily, you can complete most cat grooming from the comfort of home.

Bathing your cat

Cats are fastidious groomers and do a good job keeping their skin and coat clean. Some cat breeds don’t require regular baths, but hairless and some long-haired breeds need regular bathing. Senior cats and those with skin conditions may also need targeted cleaning. Your vet will help you determine your cat’s needs and the best schedule and methods for bathing her. 

Cleaning your cat’s ears

If your cat recently had ear mites, an infection, or another medical issue, your vet may prescribe an at-home ear cleaning regimen and solution. Your cat’s condition will determine the frequency and method of cleaning, which your vet will discuss with you. Cats with otherwise healthy ears do not need at-home ear cleaning. 

Brushing your cat’s teeth

Many cat parents are surprised to learn they should be brushing their cat’s teeth daily to prevent periodontal disease. It’s best to acclimate a cat to tooth brushing when they’re kittens, but even older cats can get used to the process detailed below. 

  1. Lay your cat on a flat surface on her side, or hold her in your lap. 
  2. Gently pull back your cat’s lips. 
  3. Using a toothbrush and paste designed and approved for cats, concentrate brushing on the canine teeth and large cheek teeth until your cat accepts the activity. 
  4. Once your cat tolerates toothbrushing, begin including all her teeth, brushing for approximately thirty seconds on each side. 

Clipping your cat’s nails

Indoor cats need regular nail trimming to keep their nails comfortable and conditioned. Most cats benefit from monthly nail trimming, though your vet can help you identify the ideal schedule for your cat. If you’re new to trimming cats’ nails, ask your vet if they recommend specific tools and to show you how to hold and safely trim your cat’s nails before you try it at home.

DIY Cat Diets Treats and Food

Veterinarians typically endorse cat diets that favor canned or moist food over dry food, though a mix of canned and dry food may be appropriate if suggested by your vet. Your cat also needs access to fresh, clean water at all times. Home-cooked cat diets, raw food diets, grain-free diets, and other niche feeding approaches touted by internet “experts” are rarely recommended or endorsed by vets. Unfortunately, many well-meaning pet owners unknowingly cause harm by feeding their pets homemade diets from unknown or untested sources. 

Good quality cat food is vital to your cat’s health. Cats are carnivores and evolved to get their daily nutrients from animal products. A cat’s prey is dissimilar from many of the animal products consumed by humans, however. Quality cat food, formulated to fulfill cat’s unique nutritional requirements, combines precise amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fatty and amino acids. 

Healthy cat food is also optimized for each feline life stage. Kitten food formulas contain higher amounts of protein and specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which are necessary during the first year of life. Food formulated for adult cats, senior cats, pregnant and lactating cats, and cats with health conditions meet cats’ unique daily needs at other life stages. 

Food allergies are the third most common allergies among cats, and some of the most common cat allergies are beef, lamb, and soy. Before you make any changes to your pet’s diet, you should always discuss it with your veterinarian. They can also help you choose healthy cat treats and snacks for your cat for supplementary feedings or training rewards. 

Conclusion

While many cats get used to being groomed and will tolerate if not enjoy some grooming activities, others are less agreeable. If your at-home cat grooming attempts have failed and you’re ready to bring in a professional groomer, don’t search “cat grooming near me” just yet. First, talk to your vet and ask if they can recommend someone.  Similarly, your vet should be your first (and, usually, only) source for questions about your cat’s diet, fitness, and overall health. 

 At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care focused on your cat’s overall health and wellness. Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped for complete care, including routine wellness visits and vaccinations, sick visits, diagnostics, and surgery. Contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our experienced vets for your cat or kitten. 

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DIY Home Pet Care For Dogs

DIY Home Pet Care For Dogs

Whether you’re a first-time adopter or a long-time dog parent, life with a dog comes with lots of fun and affection, not to mention a few surprises. At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we know your dog’s health and happiness are your top priority. That’s why we’re always happy to help pet parents find answers to their canine concerns. 

When it comes to concerns or questions about your pet’s health, your first call should always be to your veterinarian. However, with a bit of knowledge and advice, many pet care basics can happen right in your home. Whether you’re trying to solve a puzzling puppy training predicament or crate training conundrum, keep reading for useful DIY home pet care tips.

Canine Health and Fitness

During their first year of life, puppies make canine fitness seem like it’ll take care of itself. Even energetic puppies benefit from a regular exercise routine, though. Exercise helps dogs burn off energy and keep fit while stimulating their minds. At any age, a bored dog is more likely to seek out novel experiences (like shoes to chew on, garbage to dig through, and mail carriers to bark at) than a dog who enjoys regular age- and breed-appropriate exercise. 

Exercising your dog is easy and fun for both of you. You can work out with your dog by walking or running together, hiking, playing fetch, or swimming at a nearby (pet-friendly) beach. Many obedience dog training exercises, such as retrieving, also provide energy-burning and mind-stimulating opportunities. 

When inclement weather keeps your pup indoors, you can still find plenty of ways to get him the exercise he needs. Running up and down stairs, on a treadmill, or setting up a game of hide-and-seek with healthy treats or a favorite toy can all provide physical and mental stimulation. If you’re crate training your dog, you can work on basic commands like “place,” “stay,” and “come” to give your dog some mental stimulation and reward his progress with energy-burning games of tug, fetch, or chase.

How much exercise does your dog need?

In general, puppies benefit from several short exercise sessions throughout the day instead of one or two longer walks or play sessions. Exercise requirements for adult dogs vary widely by breed. High-energy breeds like Giant Schnauzers and Golden Retrievers have different exercise needs and abilities than French Bulldogs or Bologneses, for example.

Senior dogs may develop arthritis or other conditions that require modifications to their regular exercise routines to avoid discomfort or injury. Talk to your vet about your dog’s exercise needs and limitations. Even young, high-energy breeds may need their humans to put the breaks on play sessions if they have underlying health concerns exacerbated by over-exertion.

DIY Dog Grooming

Dog grooming does more than keep your pup looking his best—it also helps keep him healthy. Regular bathing and frequent brushing can help identify signs of fleas, ticks, cuts, scrapes, and other possible sources of infection that could cause illness or other complications. 

If you’re a new dog owner, some dog grooming tasks, like nail trimming and tooth brushing, can seem intimidating. Before firing off a search for “dog grooming near me,” you should know most dog grooming is easily accomplished at home, even if it means getting within drooling distance of your Cane Corso’s canine teeth. 

Most dogs will tolerate at-home bathing, brushing, and other routine tasks that keep them clean and comfortable–and some will even love it! Though your dog’s breed, age, and activity levels will all contribute to their necessary grooming schedule, the sample schedule below offers a basic outline of what to expect: 

Daily

Protect your dog’s teeth and gums by brushing them daily. Brushing your dog’s teeth is easier than you might expect. Learn how here if you’ve never done it before. 

Weekly

Weekly brushing reduces shedding and keeps your dog clean in between baths. Some double-coated and seasonally-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing. 

Monthly

Your dog’s breed and activity levels will influence how often you need to trim their nails. In general, plan to trim your dog’s nails monthly and adjust your schedule as needed. 

Most flea and tick preventatives require monthly re-application. If you’re not sure when to re-apply your dog’s flea and tick protection, review the label instructions or talk to your vet so you can keep your dog protected year-round. 

Your dog’s breed and other factors will determine how often, if ever, you need to clean his ears. If your dog is a frequent swimmer or has a history of ear infections, your vet may recommend monthly ear cleanings in between visits. You can learn the right way to clean your dog’s ears here

No matter the frequency, it’s important you only use products specifically designed for canine ear cleaning. All at-home solutions, including vinegar, baby wipes, and even water, should be avoided, as they often do more harm than help. 

Quarterly

Unless your vet instructs otherwise, most dog breeds require routine bathing only a few times per year. 

Yearly

Schedule your dog’s annual wellness exam, vaccinations, and dental cleaning. 

DIY Dog Diets Treats and Food

Healthy dog food

Dog diets contain nutrients from a mix of meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Dogs and puppies need a well-balanced diet of quality dog food designed to meet their nutritional needs. You should feed your dog a diet appropriate for their life stage and breed size. For example, healthy dog food for an adult Akita will differ significantly from a Maltese puppy’s healthy diet. 

Quality commercial kibble and canned dog food contain all the ingredients your dog needs to stay healthy. Some pet owners express an interest in feeding a home-cooked or raw diet. Unless your veterinarian recommends and oversees a home-cooked diet plan, commercially-prepared dog food is likely the safest and healthiest adult dog food.

  • At best, home-cooked diets are expensive and labor-intensive without providing health benefits to dogs. 
  • At worst, they are inadequately nutritious and can lead to adverse health outcomes with potentially devastating consequences for their dogs. 
  • Home-cooked diets are never appropriate for puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs, or overweight adult and senior dogs. 
  • Raw food diets are unsafe for you and your dog and are never recommended regardless of whether they’re prepared at home or commercially.  

Healthy dog treats

Healthy dog treats, whether store-bought or homemade, shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily food intake. Most owners find their dogs are happy to snack on many commercially-available dog treats. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) maintains a regularly-updated list of VOHC-accepted products for dogs you can use to help shop for healthy treats. 

Still, many wish to prepare homemade dog treats, whether to allergens and sensitivities or to make use of available ingredients in the home. An easy DIY dog treat your vet will likely approve of is dehydrated fruit and vegetables. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are tasty and chewy, making them appealing, healthy, low-calorie snacks for dogs. 

Common dog allergies

Cleaning products, chemicals, environmental factors, and even food can all trigger dog allergies. Dogs can develop allergies at any time, even if they’ve never shown signs of it before. Chronic ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy or rashy skin may all be symptoms of an allergic reaction. 

Your vet can help identify potential allergens in your dog’s environment and suggest a course of treatment to help with symptoms. She may also recommend and oversee an elimination diet to identify food allergies or sensitivities. While any food can cause an allergic response, common dog allergies include:  

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Dairy products 
  • Eggs
  • Lamb 
  • Soy

Conclusion

When you have questions about your furry family members, the caring and experienced team at Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, are here to help. Our practice focuses on our pet patients’ health and wellbeing, incorporating behavioral health and traditional medicine to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. Our state-of-the-art animal wellness facility in Flagstaff, Arizona, is equipped for complete animal care, from vaccinations and routine wellness checks to behavior consultations, sick visits, and more.  Contact us today to schedule a visit for your dog or puppy. 

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How to Remove Fleas From Your Pet

How to Remove Fleas From Your Pet

There are lots of things that can make your pet itch, but fleas are the first culprit that come to mind for most pet owners. When fleas shelter in your pet’s fur and start biting, they cause serious discomfort, and can even lead to grave illness. 

If your pet has a severe flea infestation, the signs can be hard to miss. Once an infestation is in full swing, you may even be able to see fleas hopping about on your pet’s fur and skin. Adult fleas are small but, at 1 – 8 mm, they’re visible to the human eye. They are wingless insects with flat bodies that appear black, brown, or dark red. Though they cannot fly, they are fast moving–though you may be able to catch one or two between your fingers to confirm your suspicions, removing them will require a more measured and meticulous approach.

While we generally recommend to speak with your veterinarian about flea preventatives, here’s everything you need to know about removing fleas from your pet:

How do Pets get Fleas?

Pets can pick up fleas pretty much anywhere, but there are places they’re more likely to encounter them. During warm weather, fleas look for cool shady places in backyards, dog parks, and other areas where they can shelter in vegetation. You or your pet can bring home hitchhiking fleas anytime you enter an area where fleas are sheltering.

Many pet owners treat their yards with flea and tick repellent products, but fleas in neighboring yards and parks still pose a risk of exposure. Whether fleas enter your home on your dog’s back or your child’s pant leg, they can spread to other pets in the house and lay eggs that lead to future infestations.

How to Spot the Signs of Fleas on Your pet

Your pet may let you know right away that they’re in pain by scratching and whining, but some animals can mask their discomfort. Thankfully, fleas leave behind some telltale signs that pet owners can use to identify and eradicate fleas before they become a bigger threat to otherwise healthy pets. 

Brushing your dog or cat every week is recommended, and this is a good time to look for signs of fleas, as well. You may see signs of flea bites or, in some cases, even bald spots or raw wounds or scabs. 

“Flea dirt” is sometimes the only evidence of fleas that owners will see. Though the name may suggest otherwise, these black flakes in your pet’s fur are actually flea feces. Using a fine-toothed comb or flea comb can help you remove flea dirt from your pet’s fur. Once you’ve removed a few flakes, you can confirm your suspicions by pressing them against a white piece of paper with your finger. If it’s flea dirt, it will leave behind a reddish smudge.

Fleas on Dogs

Dog fleas symptoms can include: 

  • Scratching
  • Gnawing
  • Hair loss
  • Biting
  • Small, red, pimple-like bumps
  • Matted hair
  • Open wounds or scabs
  • Black flakes on skin and fur
  • Pale gums
  • Restless, irritable, or unusual behavior

You can find fleas anywhere on your dog’s body. Fleas on dogs tend to flock to a few favorite places, including the thick fur around your dog’s neck and near the tail, groin, rear legs, and belly. Bites typically appear as small, red bumps and may appear in clusters or lines. 

If your dog has an allergic reaction to flea saliva, they may scratch with such frequency that they break the skin. Not only does this cause your pup pain, but it can lead to secondary infections that require further treatment. Dogs can also develop anemia or become host to tapeworms as a result of flea infestation.

Fleas on Cats

Cat fleas symptoms include: 

  • Scratching
  • Excessive grooming 
  • Hair loss
  • Avoiding areas in your house
  • Acting agitated or restless
  • Scabs or open wounds
  • Small, red, pimple-like bumps
  • Black flakes on skin or fur
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy

Some pet owners find it’s more difficult to find fleas on cats. When a cat has fleas, you may notice they’re more restless than usual. They may excessively scratch, chew, or lick the same spot on their body, or you might notice them shaking their head and scratching at their ears. 

Cats are fastidious groomers and can groom evidence of fleas out of their coats before you see them. Using a flea comb, you may be able to find flea dirt or fleas themselves, though the absence of either doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If your cat is scratching and you don’t know why, a visit to the vet is in order. 

Left unmanaged, fleas can cause more than just itching. Fleas can lead to anemia and severe hair loss in cats, and may expose your cat to tapeworms or the blood-borne parasite haemobartonellosis. 

How to Remove Fleas From Your pet

Before you invest in flea shampoos or treatments, talk to your veterinarian. If your pet has flea allergy dermatitis (an allergic reaction to fleas), hot spots, open wounds, or other skin irritations, the chemicals in flea treatments and shampoos may cause more irritation. With your vet’s guidance, removing fleas from your pet will include some or all of the following steps: 

  1. Bathe your pet with a vet-approved flea shampoo or with mild soap and water. 
  2. Comb your pet using a fine-toothed flea comb, paying close attention to the areas around the neck and tail where fleas most commonly feed. Flea combs are designed to remove fleas, flea eggs, and flea waste from your pet’s coat. After each pass of the comb, dunk it in hot soapy water to kill the fleas. 
  3. Your vet may recommend a flea treatment product to kill any remaining fleas on your pet. Make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions when applying topical solutions or administering oral treatments, and follow up with a visit to discuss preventative flea treatments. 
  4. Once you’ve eradicated a flea infestation on your pet, stay vigilant looking for future signs of fleas, and continue using the flea comb once a week to look for signs of re-infestation. Follow your vet’s advice to identify the best flea treatment for dogs and cats in your home, and make sure to maintain the regimen unless your vet says otherwise. 

How to Prevent Fleas on Your pet

To prevent future infestations, you need to consider each of the four stages of the flea life cycle: 

  • Eggs: While adult fleas are pestering your pet, they’re also laying eggs. As your dog or cat scratches, shakes, and plays their way through your house and yard, they leave flea eggs in their wake. 
  • Larva: Larvae hatch from the flea eggs left behind in carpets, furniture, blankets, mattresses, pet bedding, and anywhere else they’ve been overlooked. 
  • Pupa: The surviving larvae form cocoons to complete the pupa stage. 
  • Adults: After pupating, new adult fleas emerge from cocoons, ready to re-infest your pets, your home, and even you.  

To prevent flea eggs from hatching in your home and causing another infestation, wash all bedding, blankets, and pet beds in hot, soapy water. Vacuum carpets, furniture, and window treatments, and sweep and mop all hard floors. It can take up to 4 months to completely eradicate a flea infestation, so you’ll need to exercise patience and caution until you’re certain they’re gone. 

Talk to your vet about an appropriate preventative flea treatment for your pet. There are many over-the-counter flea preventative products available, but they are not appropriate for every pet. Cats are particularly sensitive to some of the chemicals commonly used in flea collars, for example. Before considering cat flea collars, talk to your vet about a safer, long-term solution designed with cat health in mind. 

The ingredients in these products can affect each animal differently depending on various factors. Flea medicine for dogs can lead to serious illness or even death when used on a cat, while flea medicine for cats may not provide your dog with the protection they need. The best and safest flea protection for your pet is the one prescribed or recommended by your vet. 

Conclusion

We know that when your pet is uncomfortable, you want to do everything you can to help. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we share the same goal. Our practice provides comprehensive compassionate care with a focus on our patients’ health and well-being. Whether you’re visiting us with healthy pets for their routine check-ups or one who is feeling under-the-weather, our staff is committed to providing the highest level of care while keeping your pet comfortable and safe. 

Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped to provide complete care for large and small animals, including routine exams, diagnostics, sick visits, and surgeries. 

Does your pet need flea treatment or preventative care? Contact us today to schedule a visit for your pet with one of our veterinarians.

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How to Remove Ticks From Your Pet

prevent ticks on your pet

Compared to snakes and scorpions, ticks look like a small threat. To your pets, though, they can pose a serious risk. Ticks are one of the most common parasites found on domestic pets and can lead to a host of problems for you and your furry family members. 

There are hundreds of tick species throughout the world, but only a few dozen live in Arizona. Of those commonly found in the state, four pose the largest concern for pet owners:

Brown Dog Tick: The brown dog tick is approximately ⅛” and reddish-brown when unfed and turns grayish-blue and can grow to ½” after feeding. Unlike most ticks, brown dog ticks can complete their entire life cycle indoors and cause large home infestations. 

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick: The rocky mountain wood tick is brown and approximately ⅛” when unfed, growing to ⅝” and turning grayish after feeding. They are generally found in wooded areas as well as meadows and lawns. 

Western Blacklegged Tick: Though not as common in Arizona as others on this list, the western black-legged tick is found in Hualapai Mountain Park and may spread to other regions as its host population increases. They have tiny red bodies that are difficult to spot.

Soft Ticks:
Unlike the other ticks on this list, soft ticks do not have a hard outer shell. Soft ticks are more fleshy in appearance and generally attach themselves to birds and rodents, Pets and humans can encounter them in secluded cabins or rural homes experiencing rodent infestations.

Ticks on Dogs

Ticks cannot fly or jump. Instead, they engage in “questing,” which means they crawl up into low shrubs and grass to wait for a potential host to brush up against them. Since dogs frequently enter these environments, they become hosts to questing ticks. Tick-borne diseases, including Lyme Disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis, present an ongoing threat to dog health. While most tick-borne diseases are transmitted through tick bites, one (Hepatozoonosis) results when a dog eats an infected tick. In Arizona, dogs who ingest an infected brown dog tick may contract Old World Hepatozoonosis. 

Since vaccines are not available for most tick-borne diseases, a preventative tick treatment for dogs is the most appropriate way to guard against infection. Continue to inspect your dog for signs of ticks or tick bites even when your dog is on a veterinarian-approved tick regimen to avoid him bringing hitchhiking ticks into your home.

Ticks on Cats

Cats are susceptible to various tick-borne diseases, including anaplasmosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. They can also contract Bobcat Fever (cytauxzoonosis), a potentially fatal illness transmitted by the Lone Star tick that, thankfully, is not currently common in Arizona. 

Even indoor cats can become hosts for ticks and should be checked daily. While you should always examine your cat’s entire body, ticks are most likely to be found on cats in the areas they cannot reach to groom, such as under the collar, in the ears, and on top of the head. 

Before applying any product for preventing ticks to your cat, consult with your veterinarian. Cats are sensitive to many chemicals, including those found in some tick prevention products for dogs. Your vet can help you select a flea and tick prevention regimen to include as part of an overall feline health and wellness plan.

How are Ticks Dangerous to Your Pet?

Tick bites can lead to several health concerns for your pet, including itching, hair loss, allergic reactions, and infections. Ticks can also transmit several diseases to pets and people. 

Like mosquitoes, ticks feed on blood and can transfer pathogens between hosts. Ticks in pets often go unnoticed due to their small size and that they feed in difficult to see places, including within ears and between toes. Once a tick has attached to a host, they may secrete saliva with numbing properties so the host cannot feel them. As a result, ticks can spend several days feeding on a pet without detection. During this time, they can transmit pathogens they encountered in a previous host to its new host through small amounts of saliva. Pets in Arizona are susceptible to several tick-borne diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, Tick-borne Relapsing Fever, and others.

Where to Look for Ticks on Your Pet

While it is common to find ticks on dog paws and ears, ticks can be found anywhere on your pet’s body. Tick nymphs and larvae are frequently found on an animal’s back, while adult ticks tend to seek out warm or sheltered areas of your pet’s body. To complete a thorough inspection, make sure to pay close attention to the following areas: 

  • In and around your pet’s ears
  • Around your pet’s eyelids
  • Around your pet’s tail
  • Under the collar
  • Between the back legs
  • Under the front legs
  • Between the toes

How to Remove a Tick From Your Pet

If you find one or more ticks on your dog or cat, you will need to take care in removing them. Though you may have heard of folk remedies for removing ticks involving matches, petroleum jelly, and other household items, these methods are ineffective at best and can be damaging at worst.

The best way to get a tick off a dog or cat is with sterilized tweezers or a specialty (non-twisting) tick removal tool. 

  1. Take hold of the tick with your tweezers, getting as close to your pet’s skin as possible.
  2. Pull straight up on the tick. Take care not to twist it or squeeze its body, which could cause fluids or parts of the tick to break off and remain in your pet’s skin. 
  3. Clean the bite area with soap and water (with the exception of within the ears or eyelids), then wash your hands thoroughly. Do not allow the tick to come into direct contact with your skin, and be sure to clean and disinfect any surfaces it may have touched. 
  4. Monitor the site of the bite for any signs of rash or infection and schedule an appointment with your vet for an examination.

Remove a tick from your pet

How to Prevent Ticks on Your Pet

There are a number of products, including dips, collars, and topical applications, that provide parasitic prevention for pets. Your vet can help you determine your pet’s risk and choose the best preventative approach based on their knowledge, your pet’s lifestyle, and other factors. Daily tick inspections can also help you find and remove any ticks your pet might encounter inside and outside your home. 

Brown dog ticks present a unique challenge because they can complete their entire life cycle indoors. Of the two years they live, only 2-3 weeks are spent feeding, and they can be hiding high on walls or in cracks the rest of the time. Frequent cleaning of walls, pet bedding, and soft surfaces, such as carpets, curtains, and blankets, can help eliminate them. If infestations grow unchecked, a professional pest control service may be needed.

Get More Information on Removing Ticks

At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we’re committed to providing compassionate, comprehensive care to all of our patients. Our practice incorporates both behavioral health and traditional medicine, and a focus on the health and well-being of the pets we treat informs everything we do.  

We understand your pets are a part of your family, and any visit to the veterinary clinic can be scary for both of you. Our experienced staff shares a commitment to ensuring excellent care and service that promotes your pet’s health and comfort and keeps you informed and engaged in all options and decisions. Our state-of-the-art facility is designed to provide complete head-to-tail care for large and small animals, including routine exams for healthy pets, sick visits, diagnostics, and surgery.   

Do you need to find the right tick prevention protocol for your cat or dog? Contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our veterinarians.

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How to Prevent Heartworm in Your Pets

Heartworm prevention healthy pet

Heartworm is a highly serious disease of dogs and cats that results in damage to vital organs, including the heart and lungs. In severe cases, it can cause irreparable damage or even death to your beloved pet. Part of our role as your local family veterinarian is to open the conversation about ways to help your furry family members live happy, healthy, pain-free lives for as long as possible. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we believe in the importance of year-round heartworm prevention that can be easily incorporated into your pet’s health plan. So, here is everything you need to know about how to prevent heartworm in your pets!

What Causes Heartworm Disease in Your Animal?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is spread through a mosquito bite. Mosquitos are known as an “intermediate host,” meaning that the worms live inside the mosquito for a short period of time as larvae but must be transferred to another host to become infective. When the infected mosquito bites your pet, it transfers the heartworm larvae into your pet’s bloodstream. Cats and dogs then act as a “definitive host,” which means the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside your pet. It takes about 6 to 7 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms in dogs after the transfer from the mosquito. These parasites are called “heartworms” because once they mature into adults, they then live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected pet, causing significant damage to those vital organs. The adult heartworm can life inside a dog for 5 to 7 years, while only 2 to 4 years in a cat. Adult look like cooked spaghetti, with adult males ranging from 4-6 inches in length and females 10-12 inches. The number of adult heartworms that can live inside your dog range from 1 to 250 worms and is known as the worm burden. Heartworms in cats is not as common but it does happen. Due to their smaller body size, heartworms in cats often have significantly smaller worm burdens, but this also means that a cat with only a few worms is considered to have a heavy infection.

How is Your Pet Tested for Heartworms?

Veterinarians can test for heartworms in dogs and cats through a blood test. One is called an antigen test because it tests for the presence of specific heartworm proteins which are released by adult female heartworms into your pet’s bloodstream. This test will detect antigens as early as 5 to 6 months after your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. We can also perform an antibody test, which will be positive if your dog or cat has had a previous heartworm infestation or if they are infected with only male heartworms. Antibodies can be detected approximately 6 to 8 months after infection. The final blood test detects microfilaria in a pet’s bloodstream. Microfilaria are the initial stages of young heartworm parasites, with the earliest detection being 6 months after initial infection.

What are the Signs of Heartworm Disease in Your Pets?

The severity of this disease is related to how many heartworms are living inside of your pet, how long your pet has been infected, and how your pet is processing the infection. Early on, your dog or cat may not show any symptoms at all. The longer the infection persists untreated, the more severe the symptoms will become. 

Here are the signs and symptoms for heartworms in dogs:

  • Persistent cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Heart failure 
  • Fluid filled abdomen
  • Caval Syndrome – sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, dark or bloody colored urine.
  • Death

As the severity of the heartworm disease increases over time, heart and lung changes can be visibly seen on chest radiographs. When a dog has not been treated for heartworm and it progresses to caval syndrome, surgery becomes the only option to potentially save your pet’s life. With caval syndrome, the worm burden is so high that they block the flow of blood back into the heart so they must be surgically removed. By this point the damage to your dog’s internal organs are so severe, the surgical procedure becomes high risk to your pet.  

Heartworm disease in cats are not as common as they do not thrive as well inside a cat’s body as they do in dogs. With cats, the onset of the signs of a heartworm infection can be subtle or dramatic. Here are the signs and symptoms for heartworms in cats:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Fluid filled abdomen
  • Sudden collapse or death

When Should Your Animal Be Tested for Heartworms?

As with humans, preventative medicine for your pets is always your best course of action in the prevention of many diseases, including heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention should begin with routine blood testing at your pet’s annual physical examination with your veterinarian. Catching any disease early has the best prognosis and is less likely to be a large expense for you as a pet owner. As a veterinary wellness clinic, we also recommend several FDA-approved topical and oral products for heartworm prevention for dogs and cats. All of these are to be administered to your pet monthly year-round for heartworm prevention and do require a prescription from your veterinarian. 

You may be wondering what happens if your pet does test positive for heartworms. Heartworm treatment depends on many factors and it is best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of you and your pet. Some of the treatment options include oral medications, a course of injections, blood tests, x-rays, hospitalization, and even surgery.  Heartworm disease is highly serious so it is important to know upfront that heartworm treatment is expensive and can cause life threatening complications.  As previously stated, the best medicine is heartworm prevention.

Get More Information on Heartworm Disease in Flagstaff, Arizona

If you live in Coconino County and are looking for a comprehensive pet wellness center, Continental Animal Wellness Center is your go-to veterinary clinic. We understand that bringing your pet to the clinic can be scary, especially when you know they are sick but do not know why. At CAWC, we are committed to providing the best care possible to your pet while also keeping you informed and involved in your pet’s health so you can make an educated decision with your veterinarian. From routine preventative care, to sick pet exams, to diagnostics and surgery, we are the local choice for comprehensive pet wellness in Flagstaff, AZ. Contact us today to schedule a heartworm prevention exam with one of our veterinarians.