It’s a word you never want to hear, but sometimes fleas are a pest you have to deal with, especially when you have pets. Unfortunately, fleas love a climate like ours. They’re most active in 80° to 90°F with 70% humidity. They can be frustrating to get rid of, but knowing the signs and strategies can go a long way toward eliminating them quickly and preventing them in the future.
What Are Fleas, and What Makes Them So Bad?
Fleas are flat, dark-brown parasites. They live off the blood of mammals. The more blood they’ve ingested, the lighter in color they are. They’re pretty small: 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch.
The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the most common type of flea. They especially like to feed on:
– Domestic rabbits
When fleas find a host, they burrow into the fur to stay hidden and feed.
A female flea lays an average of 27 eggs per day for up to 100 days on a host animal. Every time the animal shakes, her eggs fall off. They hatch one to six days later and turn into larvae, which burrow into grass, leaves, carpet fiber—whatever they can find. They spin cocoons and emerge as adults. An adult flea needs a host to feed on, but it can survive months without one!
Why Are Fleas a Problem?
Fleas are a nuisance first because of how easily they spread. Fleas eggs fall off animals every time they shake, and adult fleas can easily jump as far as 13 inches on and off hosts!
Once your pet (or you) has fleas, the symptoms are annoying: itching and inflammation wherever they bite. But they can be more than just annoying. Many animals are allergic to flea saliva. Flea allergy dermatitis causes itchiness, scaly skin, hair loss, irritation, and secondary skin infections across the body, not just where fleas bite.
Fleas can consume up to 15 times their body weight in blood every day, which can sometimes cause anemia in their hosts. And adult fleas can carry tapeworm eggs. If your pet eats a flea with tapeworm eggs, they can get tapeworms. Fortunately, tapeworms are generally easy to treat and not usually harmful, but they’re a secondary issue to deal with on top of a flea infestation!
Physical and Behavioral Signs of Fleas
The signs of fleas can sometimes resemble other skin issues your dog or cat might experience, but they’re still important to keep an eye on. If you notice one or more signs on this list, take your pet to the veterinarian to get them checked out.
Physical Signs of Fleas
– Red, bumpy skin on base of tail, belly, and groin because of excessive scratching
– Symptoms of flea allergy dermatitis (if your pet is allergic to flea saliva) – Red patches even in areas where the fleas aren’t biting
– Hair loss (alopecia) because of licking and biting
– Black spots on skin
– Redness & blood in ears because of scratching
– Pale gums related to anemia (in severe cases) – This happens when your cat or dog’s body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells to replace the blood lost to fleas.
– Fleas jumping on and off your dog or cat (in severe cases)
– (In humans) Tiny red dots that are very itchy
Another important physical sign is flea dirt, which is actually flea feces. Flea dirt looks like brown specks, and it can easily be mistaken for regular dirt. You can tell the difference by wetting it with water. If the speck turns dark reddish-brown, it’s flea dirt. That reddish color is the blood the flea digested.
If you have a light-colored animal, you may be able to see flea dirt on them. Otherwise, check the places they hang out:
– Their bed(s)
– The area around where they eat
– Other favorite locations like couch cushions
You could also wear white socks around the house to see if you pick up any flea dirt.
Behavioral Signs of Fleas
– Scratching, licking, and chewing certain areas of the body
– Shaking the head
– Restless behavior because of itchiness or pain
How to Find and Get Rid of Fleas
To find fleas themselves, you’ll have to be fast because fleas are fast! You’ll need a couple of simple tools for finding and eliminating fleas on your dog or cat:
– A flea comb (a special comb with very close-set teeth)
– White paper or paper towels
– A bowl of water with dish soap in it
Have your pet stand over the white paper or paper towels. This will catch any potential flea dirt that falls as you use the flea comb to comb through their fur. You’ll be able to easily see the dirt on the white material and test whether it’s true flea feces.
Start by running your comb over certain areas of your pet’s body. Fleas’ favorite hiding places are where they can stay warm and protected. Look for them in your pet’s:
– Base of the tail
If your comb runs across a flea, it should catch it in its teeth. Deposit the flea in your bowl of soapy water, where it will drown.
Flea shampoos are commonly sold as a way of getting rid of fleas, but they’re only really effective in severe cases and for about a day.
Getting Rid of Fleas in Your Home
Removing live fleas from your cat or dog is an important step, but if your pet had fleas, it’s likely your house has them too. Start by vacuuming, especially in cracks and other tight spaces. Vacuuming picks up fleas, eggs, larvae, and flea cocoons.
Wash your bedding and that of your pet, and dry it all on high heat.
Most importantly, call a pest specialist for advice and an estimate of the severity of your flea infestation.
Ready for some good news? Fleas are relatively easy to keep off your pet. Veterinarians recommend regular flea prevention, which is often paired with tick preventative, making it even more convenient!
At Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we carry Revolution® Plus for cats. For dogs, we have NexGard® (flea and tick), Bravecto® (flea and tick), and Trifexis (heartworm and flea). (Learn more about heartworm in cats here and more about heartworm in dogs here.) We also carry Capstar, which is a once-a-day medication for cats and dogs. We usually only use this for animals that come in for flea baths. We recommend that your pet stay on preventative medication year-round to prevent flea infestations.
Fleas are tough to deal with, but they’re not impossible. Keep an eye out for these signs of fleas to prevent an infestation in your home, and keep your pet up-to-date on medication. You can give us a call if you’re having trouble removing fleas from your pet, you’ve done all the above and your dog or cat is still scratching, or for any other reason. We’re always happy to help!
We’ve written before about sharing the joys of Valentine’s Day with your canine friend. This holiday can be an awesome time to show your love by giving your pet more cuddles, a new toy or treat, or an extra long walk. But many of the trappings of a great Valentine’s Day for humans aren’t fun for dogs and cats. Here’s how you can make sure yours stays safe through the season of love.
Keep an Eye on the Alcohol
Champagne and cocktails are festive Valentine’s drinks, but just like too much alcohol can cause issues for humans, it can do the same for pets. And they’re much smaller! Even a tiny amount of alcohol can quickly lead to intoxication in cats and dogs. If you’re not sure your pet ingested alcohol, but she’s acting strange, keep an eye out for:
- Difficulty breathing
These and other symptoms can be signs of intoxication in animals.
Don’t Treat with Sweets
That beautiful box of chocolate should be kept out of reach of all your furry friends. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is easy for humans to digest but takes dogs and cats much longer, meaning it can build up to toxic levels in their bodies. Besides that, the high fat content in many chocolates can lead to an upset stomach.
You may be thrilled to get sugar-free candy for Valentine’s Day. (Your loved one finally remembered you’re on a diet!) But your pet won’t be so thrilled if she gets ahold of a piece. Xylitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free candy, and it’s extremely dangerous for dogs—and not good for cats either! It can cause vomiting, tremors, seizures, and even death.
Avoid Toxic Plants in That Beautiful Bouquet
Everyone loves getting a romantic bouquet of flowers, but if you have pets at home, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants before you display your gift somewhere your pet might get it. Several flowers that are wonderful in bouquets also happen to be toxic!
Common flowers that are toxic to dogs include:
- Birds of paradise
- Many varieties of lilies
Common flowers that are toxic to cats include:
- Many varieties of lilies
- Birds of paradise
- Butterfly irises
- Maidens breath
If your dog or cat has ingested a poisonous plant, you’ll likely notice them becoming lethargic and vomiting and/or experiencing diarrhea.
Don’t Gift Flowers with Thorns
Roses with thorns are another flower to keep out of your Valentine’s bouquet. Roses without thorns are just as beautiful, so avoid the risk of a pet gnawing or stepping on them altogether.
If you buy roses with thorns, plan to de-thorn them yourself, do so away from your pet, and make sure you clean up thoroughly. A thorn that’s swallowed can be dangerous to dogs and cats.
Roses aren’t the only spiky plants that are best avoided in festive bouquets. Thistles and plants with pointy stems can also pose a risk.
Monitor Open Flames
You’ve cooked an amazing meal, laid out your best china on the table, and found the candlesticks to complete the romantic setup. All that’s left to set the mood is to dim the lights and light those candles!
This sounds like a beautiful scene; just be sure to blow the candles out again if they’re out of your eyesight. Whether you’re in the kitchen preparing dessert or you and your partner retire to the living room for a movie, open flames should never be left unattended with pets in the house. A curious pup or kitty could get too close or even knock them over, posing a hazard to themselves and your house.
Store Wrapping Materials Safely Away
Ribbons and bows make Valentine’s presents look festive, but they can pose a risk of choking to pets that see them as tempting items to taste. Whether you’re wrapping for someone else or opening a gift from your loved one, securely store or trash wrapping materials once you’re done with them. That includes:
- Anything else you think your pet is likely to get curious about
Ribbons and balloon strings are especially tempting playthings, but if they’re ingested by pets can lead to choking or getting wrapped dangerously around the digestive tract.
The holiday of love can be tons of fun for your pet as well as you! She doesn’t need chocolate, roses, or fancy Valentine’s Day gifts. Treat your pets this Valentine’s Day with your time: A day at the dog park, a trip to the pet store, even some quality cuddles on the couch can make her Valentine’s Day—and yours—extra special. Get even more ideas here.
If you have questions about the safety of common household items for your pet, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re happy to give you advice anytime!
Has your dog or cat been recently diagnosed with cancer? We’re so sorry to hear that. We understand it’s a trying and stressful time, but know that there may be hope for your pet. There are treatment options out there for many forms of cancer. Here are a few of them.
Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancer in humans, but it’s also a treatment option for cats and dogs. It’s a drug that works to kill off cancer cells. If your vet recommends this route, your pet will be monitored to ensure the treatment is working and not causing any serious side effects.
Many people worry about the chemotherapy drug affecting their pet’s quality of life. Fortunately, chemotherapy side effects in dogs and cats are less pronounced than they are in humans.
Chemotherapy for Cancer in Dogs
Chemotherapy is generally recommended for dogs suffering from lymphoma or for those whose cancers have spread, or metastasized, to other parts of their body. Most dogs have very minimal side effects from the treatment. You may notice:
- Thinning of your pet’s fur
- Temporary vomiting or diarrhea
- Slight loss of appetite
Depending on how your dog reacts to chemotherapy, your veterinarian may change his dosage or drug to ensure your pet gets the most effective treatment for cancer. The amount and frequency your dog will need depends on the drug prescribed.
Chemotherapy for Cancer in Cats
Chemotherapy is also a cancer treatment option for cats. As with dogs, it is usually recommended for lymphoma. Studies have found that lymphoma generally reacts to chemotherapy and 75% of cats treated with it enter remission.
If your cat is on a chemotherapy treatment plan, he should get plenty of fluids and any other drugs prescribed, including nausea medication or prednisone. Side effects may include:
- Dark urine
Radiation treatment, or radiotherapy, is another route that pet owners have for treating a furry friend’s cancer. While chemotherapy is a treatment that travels over the entire body, radiation is localized to the cancer. It is most often used to reduce the size of a tumor or completely remove it when surgery is not an option.
This treatment option can be difficult to obtain as it’s less available than chemotherapy. Radiotherapy treatments are generally administered several times over a period of a few weeks. Your pet will require a general anesthetic to ensure he doesn’t move during the procedure.
Radiotherapy for Cancer in Dogs
Tumors can cause pain, block bodily functions, and cause bleeding, all of which radiotherapy aims to correct in dogs with cancer. A study found that about 75% of dogs responded to radiation therapy. Looking closer at the numbers, it was found that there is a 67% chance a dog’s tumor will stop growing or shrink in size if radiotherapy is used.
Radiotherapy in Cats
Radiotherapy is also a great option for cats, but it may be recommended that your cat stay with his veterinarian over the course of treatment. Radiotherapy requires repeat sessions over a few weeks, and travel to and from can put undue stress on your pet.
Radiation for cancer treatment in cats is more palliative care—geared towards maintaining quality of life—than a cure for cat cancer. It’s used to ensure they’re comfortable, but it can also be a highly effective and even potentially life-extending treatment when surgery is not available or an option.
When surgery is opted for, it is used to remove as much of a tumor as possible.
Surgery for Dog Cancer
It’s possible that your vet recommends surgery and no other course of action if your dog is diagnosed with cancer, but this depends on the type of cancer your pet has. Surgery may be an option, for example, if your dog’s tumor is close to the skin or if it is very distinct. Before surgery can happen, your vet will check to ensure the cancer hasn’t spread.
Surgery for Cancer in Cats
Surgery is also an option for cats and may be the only treatment your vet recommends at first. How well this approach works depends on the pet, but ideally it will stop his cancer from spreading. Your cat may have to stay at the veterinarian after surgery for monitoring and tests, and care will be needed after he returns home.
A Combination of Pet Cancer Treatments
While your veterinarian may only prescribe one of these three treatment options for your dog or cat’s cancer, they may also use a combination approach. Radiotherapy, for example, is often used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy—as well as other drugs—to improve quality of life and boost the effectiveness of the radiation.
While surgery may be enough on its own, it could be prescribed before or after chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Your pet’s doctor might recommend chemotherapy but finds it isn’t having the results they wanted, so they may go on to suggest surgical options or additional radiotherapy treatment.
“Cancer” is a scary word, but there are treatment options available for your dog or cat. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery are often used together and with other treatments and drugs to ensure your pet is as comfortable as can be and moving down the road to recovery, if possible.
If you believe you have a pet with cancer, it’s important to take him to your veterinarian right away. At Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we can help your pet with pain management or refer him to schedule an appointment with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, simply call us at 281-693-7387.
Cancer is one of the top disease-related killers of pets, including cats. As cats age, they can be more susceptible to health issues, including cancer, but they’re also excellent at hiding problems. Any change in behavior in your cat should be taken seriously. To help him live a long and healthy life, keep an eye out for these 14 signs of cancer in cats.
If your cat has an unusual bump, an odd smell coming from his mouth, or has taken to hiding in odd places, it’s time to visit the vet. These can all be symptoms of cancer. Get in touch with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.
Sign #1: Unusual Lumps and Bumps
Lumps and bumps can be obvious signs of a cat with cancer. If you notice a large bump, a lump that continues to grow, or a swollen spot that changes shape with time, you should absolutely schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. These can be a sign of mast cell tumors or another form of cancer.
Sign #2: A Bad Smell Coming from the Mouth
A bad smell emitting from the mouth of your cat could be a sign of oral cancer, or squamous cell carcinoma. This disease is often attributed to secondhand smoke, but oral problems can also result from dental issues. If your cat is suffering from this form of cancer, you may also notice a change in the color of his gums.
Sign #3: Difficulty Eating or Swallowing
Problems eating or swallowing can also be a symptom of oral cancer in cats, or even neck cancer. Just like a foul smell coming from his mouth, problems swallowing or eating could point to a dental issue. If you notice your cat is trying to chew with only one side of his mouth, an appointment with your vet is in order.
Sign #4: Loss of Appetite
A cat that refuses to eat anything may be suffering from a major illness like cancer, or he could have a foreign body trapped somewhere in his GI tract. If your cat has simply stopped eating, don’t wait to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Sign #5: Sores That Won’t Heal
Wounds, lesions, or sores that won’t heal on your cat, even after he’s given oral medication or ointments, deserve a second look from a professional. They can be signs of cancer, an infection, or skin disease.
Sign #6: Hiding
One of the major signs of something wrong with a cat is excessive hiding. If your cat is suddenly spending a lot of time under the bed or in his favorite hiding spot, it could be a sign that something is wrong, especially if he won’t even come out for food or treats. This behavior doesn’t always mean cancer, but a vet can give you more information.
Sign #7: Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds are not normal in cats. Blood or pus coming out of your cat’s nose could indicate cancer, especially in older cats. In younger cats, it could mean something is stuck up there.
Sign #8: Abnormal Discharges
If you notice blood or pus in your cat’s mouth or anus, these can be signs of cancer, specifically oral or GI tract cancer.
Sign #9: Vomiting or Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea can be red flags for a multitude of problems, including stuck foreign bodies, hairballs, and other illnesses. They are also common symptoms of cancer found in cats, specifically gastrointestinal lymphoma.
Sign #10: Changes in Bathroom Habits
Difficulty peeing and blood in the urine could be signs and symptoms of:
- A urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Bladder crystals
- Urinary cancer
Excessive litterbox use can also point to a problem, as can straining to defecate or blood in the stool.
Sign #11: Changes in Weight
Older cats can be skinnier than their younger companions, but drastic changes in weight—a gain or loss—can mean your pet is suffering from an illness. Weight loss is the number-one symptom of cat cancer, usually pointing to a gastrointestinal tumor.
Weight gain can also be a sign of a gastrointestinal tumor, as can bloating.
Sign #12: Seizures
Unless your cat has a previously diagnosed issue with them, seizures are never a good sign for any pet and should be taken very seriously. A seizure usually appears as an uncontrolled burst in energy. You may see your cat jerking, chewing, or foaming at their mouth.
If your cat has a seizure, take him to the vet immediately. Seizures be caused by brain tumors, especially in older cats.
Sign #13: Difficulty Breathing
If you find your cat is having trouble breathing or is coughing, a trip to a doctor is in order. This could be a sign of fluid in the lungs or inflammation. In addition to cancer, problems breathing could be caused by heart or lung disease.
Sign #14: Lameness, Lethargy, Weakness, or Obvious Pain
Just like hiding, a sudden, massive change in behavior is a serious indicator that something is wrong in cats; it could be cancer. Cats go to great lengths to hide discomfort or pain because of an instinct to avoid becoming prey. If you notice your furry friend is depressed, lethargic, weak, limping, or in pain and crying out, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with your vet.
An owner who catches the signs of cat cancer early gives a cat his best chance at survival. Knowing what to look out for, especially as your cat ages, can help you maintain his quality of life. Annual wellness exams with your veterinarian can help. If you notice any of the signs or health problems above, don’t wait to go to the vet. Schedule an appointment immediately.
If you are in or near Katy, TX, contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital for a checkup or referral to a specialist. Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment.
Cancer is a scary word, especially when it comes to our loved ones and pets. If you notice changes in your dog’s health or he’s behaving differently, it’s important to know the signs of cancer in dogs, so you can keep an eye out. Early treatment can make a big difference!
Sign #1: Abnormal Swelling
Abnormal swelling can appear just about anywhere on a dog’s body, and it can be a sign of canine cancer, especially if the swelling gets larger over time. If you notice a bump or lump on your dog that wasn’t there previously, mention it to your vet.
Sign #2: Weight Loss or Gain
If your dog isn’t dieting, sudden weight loss could signify intestinal cancer or another illness. The same goes for weight gain. If your dog is following the same diet he always has, yet seems to be gaining weight or bloating, it can point to a build up of fluid from cancer or another medical issue.
Sign #3: Abnormal Bleeding or Discharge from Openings
Another sign of canine cancer is abnormal discharge, such as pus, or bleeding from the nose, anus, or mouth. Blood at the nose could point to nose cancer, while pus or blood at the anus could point to cancer of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Sign #4: Difficulty Going to the Bathroom
If you notice your dog is having difficulty urinating, schedule an appointment with your vet. This could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder crystals, but it could also point to cancers in the bladder, kidneys, or urethra.
You may also notice that your dog has problems defecating. Signs of cancer in the rectum or anus include struggling to go to the bathroom, diarrhea, black, tarry stools (this indicates blood), or hardened stools.
Sign #5: Increased Drinking and Urinating
In the same vein, if you suddenly find your dog is urinating more often and drinking more water, take him to the veterinarian. Increased drinking can point to a UTI but could mean the base of the brain or adrenal gland has a slow-growing tumor.
Sign #6: A Bad Smell
Sign #7: Loss of Appetite
While loss of appetite often points to illness in dogs, older dogs—being less active—can tend to eat less than younger dogs. A sudden change in appetite or refusal to eat are what you should look out for. If you notice either of these changes in behavior, get him checked out. Nausea can also be a sign of cancer.
Sign #8: Issues Eating or Swallowing
Similar to sign number 7, your dog may want to eat but not be able to. Difficulty eating or swallowing food or water can be a sign of tooth pain, cavities, or oral or neck cancer.
Sign #9: Easily Tired or Refuses to Exercise
Dogs, as they age, of course get tired faster, but sudden or drastic changes in your dog’s energy level can point to problems. If your dog, who once loved to chase tennis balls or going for walks, gets tired after a throw or two or just refuses to play or run around, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Lethargy or depression can be major signs of illness, including cancer.
Sign #10: Sores That Refuse to Heal
Open wounds can be dangerous for dogs and lead to infection. Open sores that refuse to heal at all, even with medication, can be a sign of cancer in dogs. Red and irritated sores or lesions could point to mast cell tumors, which are a common form of skin tumor. These cancers can spread to organs or bone marrow.
Wounds are something you should regularly look for and note while grooming your pup.
Sign #11: Difficulty Breathing
If you notice your dog is suddenly struggling to breathe or wheezing, veterinary care is a must. A tumor could be putting pressure on his windpipe or lungs. Rapid breathing could also point to medical issues, like heart tumors, that require treatment.
Sign #12: Lameness or Stiffness
Senior dogs are more prone to arthritis, which affects about one in five dogs during their lives. However, sudden, persistent lameness or stiffness can be a sign of bone, nerve, or muscle cancer in dogs. You may also notice leg swelling or limping.
Sign #13: Obvious Pain
If your dog is refusing to jump, whimpers, or shows other signs of obvious pain, schedule a vet visit right away. These can be signs of arthritis and old age, but they can also point to joint problems, muscle disease, and bone cancer.
Knowing the signs of cancer in pups may help save yours. While cancer is more common in older dogs, it is not unheard of in younger ones. When grooming or playing with your dog, keep an eye out for physical and behavioral changes. If you notice any, call your veterinarian to make an appointment. Staying on top of your dog’s health and well-being means a happier life for him!
Is your dog displaying any of the warning signs of cancer? We’re here to help with diagnosis and treatment options. To schedule an appointment for your dog at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, simply call 281-693-7387.
With summer in full swing, walks with your pup in sweltering temperatures can be tough for both of you. The hot pavement can hurt her paws, and without the right precautions, the temperature can lead to heat stroke in your dog—and even yourself. Learn about the warning signs of heat stroke in dogs and how to prevent it!
What Is Heat Stroke?
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two things you need to be aware of when taking your dog out in high temperatures. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat through their skin, but rather pant through their mouths or sweat through their paws to get rid of excess heat. With fewer ways to cool down than humans, they’re at a higher risk for both exhaustion or stroke.
Heat exhaustion occurs when your pup’s body temperature rises above her normal temperature, which is considered 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 103 degrees can be a sign of heat exhaustion and could mean your dog is on her way to heat stroke.
If your dog’s temperature reaches 106 degrees or higher, she could be at serious risk of heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause your dog’s heart to stop, result in shock, or cause organ damage like kidney failure.
That’s why it’s essential to take heat stroke precaution measures and seek treatment as soon as you see the signs of heat stroke in your dog.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
There are several signs of heat stroke in dogs, including:
Some panting is normal for dogs, but if you notice yours hyperventilating, panting constantly, or breathing faster than is usual for them, it could be a sign of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Dehydration is dangerous on its own, heat or no. The signs of dehydration in dogs are:
- Dry nose
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of urine
- Off-colored gums
As mentioned before, fever is definitely one sign of a heat stroke. Anything over 103 degrees Fahrenheit should be taken seriously. You can tell if your dog has a fever if her nose is dry and hot.
Elevated Heart Rate
A normal heart rate varies from dog to dog. Large dogs have slower heart rates, while smaller pups have higher heart rates. If it feels like your dog’s heart rate is elevated above their norm, it could be a symptom of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, especially if it’s combined with other warning signs.
If your dog is exhibiting odd, out-of-character behavior, such as not responding to your call, she could be confused. This is another sign of heat stroke.
Lethargy, Weakness, or Loss of Consciousness
Dogs that have heat stroke may:
- Be reluctant to move
- Want to nap more than is usual for them
- Have trouble standing up
If your dog collapses or loses consciousness, it could mean her heat stroke is exceptionally severe. She needs to see a veterinarian right away.
Other Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Some other signs of heat stroke in dogs are:
- Excessive drooling, especially if it’s thicker or stickier than normal
- Muscle tremors
- Blood in stool
- Glazed eyes
Other Potential Heat Problems in Dogs
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke aren’t the only things you need to keep an eye on with your dog in hot weather. You should also be aware of these two potential problems:
- Skin fold pyoderma
- Paw pad burns
Skin Fold Pyoderma
Skin fold pyoderma is a dog heat rash that can affect canines with skin folds due to weight problems or genetics. The rubbing of their skin folds in hot or humid weather can cause the issue, which is both a rash and an infection. Itchy and uncomfortable, skin fold pyoderma can be treated with medicated shampoo. However, a visit to your vet is recommended, as your dog may need to be on antibiotics to treat the resulting infection, or you may be advised to use medicated wipes.
Paw Pad Burns
Before taking your dog for a walk out on hard ground, such as asphalt or concrete, put your hand on the ground. If you can’t keep your hand there longer than five seconds, it is too hot to walk your dog on. Doing so could result in paw pad burns and severe damage to your pup’s feet.
Instead, take your dog out on grass or dirt, or consider having her wear booties if she is comfortable with them.
Treatment of Heat Stroke
If you believe your dog is overheating or suffering from heat stroke, you should absolutely get her to a cooler place immediately. This can be shade, indoors, or your vehicle with the air conditioner on. As soon as possible, take her temperature with a rectal thermometer. If it is above 106 degrees or she is unconscious, take her to a veterinarian right away. You can call ahead to ensure the vet is ready for you when you arrive, as your pup needs immediate care.
Follow these steps to help her cool down:
- Place wet cloths on her armpits, ears, paws, on her neck, and between her legs – Use lukewarm or cool water. Do not use cold water.
- Give her small amounts of lukewarm or cool water to drink if she is conscious.
- Encourage her to wade into a pool or shallow lake – Stay close and keep an eye on her in the water.
- Place your dog in front of a fan.
If your dog’s temperature is higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit but below 106, monitor her to decide whether to take a trip to the vet. Every few minutes, check her temperature while applying cool towels and offering water. You should continue to monitor her even when her temperature goes back down to 103 degrees.
Vet Note: Whenever you’re concerned with your dog’s health, don’t hesitate to visit your vet. They can make sure everything is okay and give you advice about how to handle the problem. They can also confirm no heat stroke damage was done.
Preventing Heat Stroke
There are several ways to prevent heat stroke and even heat exhaustion before it becomes serious in dogs:
Limit Outdoor Exercise in Hot Temperatures
If it’s hot outside, limit your dog’s outdoor exercise. She may be sad about it, but it will be best for her health. Let her outside in the early morning or early evening when temperatures are at their lowest.
Or she could go for a swim or play in a sprinkler. Always make sure she has access to drinking water and shade when outdoors.
Do Not Leave Her in Your Car
Temperatures in a parked vehicle can become very dangerous very fast, especially for dogs. Never leave your pet in the car, even if you think it will be just a few minutes. Even when the temperature outside is only 70 degrees, it doesn’t take long for it to reach 120 degrees in a vehicle.
Know If Your Dog Is At Risk
Some dogs are at higher risk than others for heat stroke, including:
- Thick- or long-haired breeds
- Brachycephalic breeds
- Other breeds with short noses or flat faces
- Young dogs
- Old dogs
- Dogs with medical conditions, such as heart problems
- Overweight dogs
Knowing the signs of heat stroke in dogs—and even the symptoms of heat exhaustion—may help you save your dog’s life one day. Prevention is key to stopping heat stroke from happening to your pup, so always take the necessary precautions before heading out for your daily walk or exercise. Extra water, an eye on the temperature, and the right planning in case of an emergency can make all the difference.
If your dog is experiencing heat stroke, get her to the veterinarian right away. We’re here to help. If you believe your dog’s temperature is elevated or she’s showing other signs of heat stroke, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.
Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting time for the whole family! During the excitement, don’t forget to bring your newest family member to the vet for important services that help him put his best paw forward. Find out what you can expect when you bring your puppy to the vet.
When Should Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit Be?
We recommend that you bring your puppy in for a veterinarian appointment within a week of adoption to ensure he’s in good health. Shelters and breeders usually have contracts that require you to get your puppy checked by a vet within a certain timeframe, so be sure to read the details of this paperwork before scheduling an appointment.
If your dog is showing signs of problems, bring him to a vet as soon as possible. Clinics like Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital allow for walk-ins if you’re not able to make an appointment on short notice.
Getting Ready for Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit
Your puppy’s first vet visit might sound stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! You can ask your veterinarian what you should bring to your appointment, but it’s always a good idea to have these items in preparation for a comfortable visit for both you and your pup.
A Collar and Leash
Your puppy should be getting comfortable on a leash and collar (or a harness) as soon as possible. There may be other dogs at the clinic when you visit, and you want to ensure you can keep your puppy nearby and away from trouble, especially in this new environment.
If your dog is smaller or not quite comfortable on a leash yet, you can also consider using a small dog carrier for the time being.
Medical Records and Paperwork
Whether you adopted your puppy from the shelter, a pet store, or a breeder, your dog has medical records and other relevant paperwork. This could be details about:
- His breed
- Past vaccinations
- Prior medical problems
These documents are important at your puppy’s first vet visit, so your veterinarian knows exactly what vaccines and/or treatments to schedule for your dog in the future.
Dog treats and praise are wonderful ways to get your puppy acclimated to a new environment! Visiting the veterinarian for the first time can be stressful for many pups, with loud dogs, cats, or even birds—plus all the new people! There’s a lot going on during a visit to the vet.
Your dog may also be afraid of the veterinarian or veterinary care. Dog treats will help him associate his doctor with good food. Many vets also have treats on hand, so if you forget them, we have you covered!
Questions or Concerns You Have About Your New Puppy
Puppies can be a handful, and it’s okay to have questions about their care or training, especially if you’re new to dog ownership. If you have questions or concerns about your pup’s health, dog training, breed, dog food options, or anything else, write them down and bring them to ask at your veterinary visit.
A Fecal Sample
It’s always a great idea to bring a stool sample with you to the veterinarian. This will allow the clinic to test your new family member for worms or other issues. If you’re on the fence about bringing one, call to ask before your appointment.
The cost of a puppy’s first vet visit depends on what your puppy has done during the exam. Usually the visit itself costs between $45 and $55, though this varies from doctor to doctor. Also take into account:
A fecal exam, for example, costs between $25 and $45, and a heartworm test can cost around $50.
For future visits, you may want to consider the benefits of pet insurance. It can help you cover regular visits as well as unexpected emergencies. Talk to us to learn more!
Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit – What to Expect
You have your puppy, his paperwork, your questions about his care, and a fecal sample. Now it’s time to meet the vet! The veterinarian and vet techs will complete a few different tasks during your puppy’s visit.
Take His Vital Signs
One of the first things the vet tech or vet will do is take your puppy’s vital signs. These include:
- Checking his heart rate with a stethoscope
- Getting his weight – If your puppy is under- or overweight, they will provide nutritional and exercise advice to help get your dog on track to a healthier weight.
- Taking his temperature – A normal temperature for puppies is between 99.5° and 102.5° F degrees. Something outside those numbers could indicate an issue.
Complete a Nose-to-Tail Examination
Once the vitals are jotted down, your vet will complete an entire nose-to-tail exam of your puppy, checking his mouth and teeth to his paws to getting a good feel for his coat and skin. The vet will be looking for any obvious or not-so-obvious issues, such as:
- Fleas and ticks
- Issues with the lymph nodes
Give Vaccinations That Are Due
Depending on your puppy’s age, he may be due for vaccinations. At four months, for example, he’ll need a rabies shot. Your veterinarian will create a vaccination schedule over the next year or so to ensure he’s properly protected.
Over the next few months, you should expect your puppy to need shots for:
- Kennel cough
- Lyme disease
To learn more about the core vaccinations and boosters your puppy will need, take a look at this vaccination rundown we created for dog owners.
Scheduling Future Visits for Your Puppy
After the examination, your vet will discuss your puppy’s future visits. This could be to check on any issues found during the exam or to schedule future vaccinations and boosters. You’ll also want to talk about scheduling an appointment for a spay or neuter during this time.
In the future, your dog should have annual appointments with your veterinarian to complete any vaccinations, test for heartworm, and just ensure your family member is still in excellent health.
Scheduling your puppy’s first vet visit as soon as possible is in his best interest! It can find any health issues with your newest family member while also getting him on the right track of a healthy life ahead.
Are you adopting a puppy or a new dog? Schedule his appointment now! Our experienced veterinarians and vet techs can help ensure your visit is stress-free and comfortable for both you and your pup. To make an appointment, call us at 281-693-7387.
Did you recently adopt a kitten? Congratulations! One of the most important things about new pet ownership is scheduling their first vet visit. If your kitten is new to your household, here’s what you should expect when you bring him to the vet for the first time.
When Should You Bring Your Kitten In for a Check-Up?
Your kitten’s first vet visit should happen as soon as possible. It’s recommended that you schedule an appointment two to three days after adopting. Many shelters and breeders require you to visit a veterinarian after adopting and give you a window of seven days or fewer.
If your cat is showing signs of illness, however, an even earlier appointment may be needed. Keep an eye out for:
- Watery eyes
- Refusing to eat
- Difficulty breathing
Getting Your Kitten Ready for His First Vet Visit
There are a few things you’ll need as you get ready for your kitten’s trip to the vet!
A Cat Carrier
We never recommend carrying your cat into our office in your arms, as the waiting room often has other animals, such as dogs, that can scare or threaten your pet. Kittens can be very slippery!
Instead, choose a hard case carrier or a soft carrier. A bigger one that your cat can grow into is fine.
Whether you adopted your kitten from a shelter or a breeder, your cat most likely came with some paperwork. This usually includes:
- Any vaccinations he received
- Whether your cat was spayed or neutered
- Notes about his age
- Information about prior health issues
A Stool Sample
Some vets request that you bring a stool sample with your kitten. This may not always be required, so ask your veterinarian before you scoop some up and bring it in a sealed baggie.
Some kittens take to the vet a bit easier than others. Even if your little one is brave, cat treats can do wonders. They can help your new pet associate the vet with good things and make him less likely to become uncomfortable on later visits.
How much your kitten’s first vet visit will cost depends on what has already been completed by the shelter, store, or breeder. A checkup regularly runs about $20 to $40, but if your cat’s being tested for anything, he needs medication, or he’s getting vaccinations, the cost can be more.
If you’re curious how much a checkup for your kitten will cost, contact us for a more accurate quote.
Your Kitten’s First Exam: What to Expect
Once you’ve scheduled your kitten’s first vet appointment and have the supplies you need to get him to the office, it’s time to actually meet the vet! Your vet will perform a physical exam and tests. Here are some of the things you can expect your vet to do at your kitten’s appointment:
Take His Vitals
The first portion of the physical exam includes weighing your kitten and taking his temperature. Your vet will let you know if your cat is under or overweight and give you nutritional advice.
The normal temperature range for kittens is 101° F to 103° F. Anything outside of that range could point to a problem.
Check His Entire Body
The vet will then look over the kitten’s entire body. This includes an inspection of the:
They will feel the stomach for any abnormalities and listen to the lungs and heart.
Look for Parasites
Parasites can be a problem for kittens and cats that come from a shelter, so your vet will definitely inspect your new pet for them. Mites like to make a home within the ears, for instance, while fleas stick to the fur. Fleas often leave behind flea eggs and flea dirt (flea poop), so your vet will inspect your kitten for these signs in addition to keeping an eye out for adult fleas.
Perform a Fecal Analysis
If your vet requested that you bring in a stool sample, they’ll do a fecal analysis. This allows them to check for worms as well as other intestinal problems. If something abnormal is found, they can start treating your kitten right away.
If your cat is older than nine weeks, it’s important that your veterinarian perform blood tests to check for FeLV and FIV. FeLV is feline leukemia virus, and it’s a serious problem that negatively affects a cat’s immune system. Signs are not always obvious, so testing your new cat is a must.
FIV and FeLV are often confused for one another, but FIV is feline immunodeficiency virus. Care is important to keep your cat comfortable, so blood tests can help you know what to expect regarding your cat’s health. With proper steps, a kitten with FIV can live a normal life.
Your Kitten May Need Vaccinations
If your kitten is old enough, he may be able to get his first shots during his first vet visit! The first rabies shot, for example, can be given between 8 and 12 weeks old. If your cat is not quite ready for his vaccinations, it’s important to schedule appointments for later dates for:
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline panleukopenia
- Feline leukemia
- Chlamydophilia felis
Not all kittens need all the above shots, so talk to your veterinarian to work out a vaccination schedule based on their recommendations. Vaccinations can help keep serious diseases at bay.
Schedule a Follow-Up Visit
It’s always a good idea to schedule a follow-up visit for your kitten after he’s completed his first visit to the vet, especially if your little one needs vaccinations or to be spayed or neutered. After the initial visits, your new family member should see the veterinarian at least once a year to ensure his health is in good shape.
A kitten’s first trip to the vet doesn’t have to be scary! Having the right materials on hand can make the trip comfortable for both you and your new pet. If you have adopted a new kitten, never skip the first vet appointment. It’s a vital step in ensuring your little family member lives a long and healthy life.
Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital looks forward to meeting the two of you! To schedule an appointment, call 281-693-7387.
While heartworm is more common in dogs than cats, cat owners should still be vigilant about this parasite. It’s often mistaken for other ailments, so knowing what to be aware of can get your cat much needed treatment before she gets sick. Here’s what you need to know about heartworm in cats, the signs and symptoms, and what you should do if you believe your cat has heartworms.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms, also known as dirofilaria immitis, are parasites. When an animal is affected, heartworms tend to make their home in the heart and lungs. They can grow to be a foot long. A heartworm’s favorite host is the dog and similar animals like the fox, coyote, and wolf. But they don’t just stick to canines. It is possible for cats to be infected by this parasite as well.
Thankfully, most heartworms don’t make it to adulthood in cats. Felines are more resistant to the parasite, so heartworms have a hard time surviving. If parasites manage to live into adulthood, there will probably only be one to three at a time in the cat’s heart or lungs, compared to a dog, which can host hundreds.
Unfortunately, fewer worms make the issue more difficult to diagnose. More likely causes of health issues in cats get investigated first. That’s a problem because even immature worms can cause severe health issues for infected cats, including heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).
What Causes Heartworm Disease in Cats?
Heartworms are transferred from animal to animal through mosquitoes. After feeding on an infected animal, a mosquito carries the larvae in its body, where it develops over a two-week period. When it’s ready, the larvae enters an animal through the bite of the infected mosquito, where it is left to start its six-month cycle to adult heartworm. It’s important to note that heartworms are not contagious and can’t be passed from cat to cat or from dog to cat.
The parasite can be found throughout the United States and is much more common in an area that is home to a lot of mosquitoes. It used to be the case that heartworm wasn’t found in all 50 states, but due to urbanization and irrigation, this is no longer true. If you have seen mosquitoes, your pets can be susceptible to catching the parasite.
What Are the Symptoms of a Heartworm Infection?
In cats, symptoms of heartworm aren’t always obvious. There could be no signs, or there could be several. It depends on the cat as well as the stages and locations of the worms.
Here are some signs of heartworm to be on the lookout for:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty walking
- Fluid in abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
Sadly, in some cases, there will be no signs until a cat collapses or dies from the parasite.
How Can Heartworms in Cats Be Treated?
Your vet can test for heartworm in your cat by taking a blood sample and use a combination of heartworm antibody and antigen tests. If heartworm proteins are found, they will request more tests, such as complete blood counts, X-rays, and ultrasounds.
There is no straightforward treatment for heartworm in cats and no standard cure. The medications used to cure heartworm disease in dogs can be fatal to cats, so should never be used. Instead, veterinarians often take a monitoring approach, with support.
The first step after a heartworm diagnosis is to stabilize your cat. Often, heartworm in a feline clears up on its own with proper care and nursing. Damage can be left behind when they’re gone, so monitoring is important. If worms were found in your cat’s lungs, your vet will most likely suggest regular chest x-rays.
Other treatment options include:
- Prednisolone (medication to reduce inflammation)
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Oxygen therapy
It can take two to three years for the worms to complete their lifespan. Regular checkups and medication can help minimize symptoms during this time period. If heartworms are resolved, your veterinarian will probably recommend that your cat come in for continued checkups. This is to keep an eye on any damage the parasite might have done to her heart or lungs.
Heartworms Can Be Prevented
Since there is no standard cure for heartworms in cats, prevention is absolutely necessary. Even indoor cats can come in contact with mosquitoes.
Monthly heartworm preventive medications are a great way to keep the worms at bay. Even if your cat was previously diagnosed with the parasite, these medications can prevent a new infection. Heartworm preventive care for cats are available in topical and pill forms, which should be given once a month.
If you give your cat heartworm prevention medication, timing is essential. Missing a dose or administering one late could leave your pet open to infection. Kittens can be started on heartworm preventative as early as eight weeks, though dosage will change with their body weight.
Both indoor and outdoor cats can get heartworm! If you think your cat contracted the parasite or you would like to talk about Revolution®, the preventive medicine we recommend and offer, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Give us a call at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy TX.
Hearing the diagnosis of “heartworms” can be scary for a dog owner. It’s important to be educated on the disease, the signs and symptoms, treatment options, and understand how to prevent heartworms in your pup. Find out what heartworms are and how you can keep your dog safe!
If you believe your dog may be suffering from heartworms, make an appointment to see a veterinarian right away. Testing and preventative medication can help ensure the parasites don’t take hold. To schedule testing for your dog, call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX at 281-693-7387.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are a very serious parasite for many animals. They’re found often in dogs and similar animals like wolves, coyotes, and foxes. The parasites are worms that can reach up to a foot long and generally live in the animal’s heart, hence the name. They can also be found in the lungs and blood vessels.
After only a year of being infected, dogs can have between 15 (the average) and hundreds of these parasites living in their body. Over time, they cause damage to the organs they call home. If left untreated, heartworms can continue to grow over seven years. They constantly produce offspring during that time.
If heartworms aren’t discovered and treated, they can lead to heart failure and death in dogs.
What Causes Heartworms in Dogs?
Heartworm is not contagious from dog to dog. The parasite is carried by mosquitoes. After biting an animal infected with heartworm, mosquitoes carry the blood and baby worms to the next animal they bite. Over the next six months, the worms will mature inside the animal.
The heartworm parasite can be found in all 50 states in the U.S. Previously, where mosquitoes were scarce, they weren’t a problem for dog owners, but because of variations in climate and other human developments, heartworm can now be found everywhere in the United States, including Texas.
It’s rare for humans to contract heartworms from mosquitoes, as it usually can’t complete its life cycle, but it does happen from time to time.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm?
When a dog first contracts heartworm, there will be very few, if any, symptoms. As the worms mature over time, signs of heartworm disease will become more apparent. The symptoms tend to be more obvious in more active dogs, so heartworm isn’t always clear in lazier pups.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian:
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (especially after exercise)
- Decreased or loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Reluctance to exercise
- Swollen belly
If a dog is infected with large numbers of worms, more serious symptoms may develop, including:
- Labored breathing
- Bloody or dark urine
- Pale gums
- Heart failure
These signs are indicative of caval syndrome, which is caused by heartworms blocking blood flow. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to get her to a veterinarian right away, as surgery must be done quickly.
How Can Heartworms Be Treated?
The first step to uncovering heartworms is a simple blood test. Your dog should have a heartworm test annually to ensure she hasn’t contracted the parasite. It can be done during a routine visit with your veterinarian. Even if your dog is on heartworm preventative medication, this important test shouldn’t be skipped.
If your dog tests positive for heartworms, they are treatable. Your veterinarian will first perform additional tests to confirm she indeed has heartworms. These tests include ultrasounds, radiographs, and others.
If heartworms are present, you should limit your pup’s exercise routine, as activity can cause damage to the infected organs. Your veterinarian then may suggest various treatment options for your dog’s heartworm. Immiticide is the drug often recommended to kill the worms, as long as they’re not extremely serious. Antibiotics, steroids, and other medication may also be given along with immiticide. In more severe cases, surgery to remove the worms may be necessary.
Can Heartworm in Dogs Be Prevented?
Heartworm disease in dogs can absolutely be prevented, and steps should be taken to restrict your pet’s chances of contracting the parasite. Yearly testing and preventative medications are two musts to keep your dog safe. The name of the preventative heartworm medicine is chemoprophylaxis. It also fights against:
Chemoprophylaxis comes in chewable, topical, and injectable forms.
Heartworm preventatives should always be given to your dog on time, every time. A missed or late dose—even by a couple of days—can leave your dog open to heartworm infection. Some are monthly heartworm preventives, while others are every six months. Speak with your veterinarian to come up with a schedule that will ensure your dog is protected year-round.
Heartworms are an extremely serious parasite for dogs, and prevention is important in the fight against them. At Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX, we recommend and offer:
- ProHeart® 12
Talk to us about what’s right for your dog. If you suspect your dog may have heartworms, bring her in for an appointment for testing as soon as possible.
Cinco Ranch Vet can help. Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment, arrange for testing and treatment of heartworm disease, or discuss preventative options.