Archive | April, 2016

40 under 40

LizAndGirls

We are SO proud of Elizabeth! She has been selected to be in the 40 under 40 class of 2016!

40 under 40 recognizes top young business and community leaders in Western Mass! Read her article here!

Heartworm

Heartworm

Heartworms are worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected animals. They can live in dogs and cats, and in wild animals such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. Mosquitoes are considered to be the primary mode of transmission for heartworm disease. Baby worms, called microfilaria, circulate in the infected animal’s blood stream, which is then eaten by mosquitoes. That mosquito then continues to bite other animals, spreading the microfilaria. Once inside a new host, the heartworm can take 6 month to mature into an adult, and then can live in the host for years. The animal can continue acquiring heartworms, which means an animal can have several of these worms in their body at one time.

The longer the worm is allowed to live inside a dog, the worse the symptoms get. Heart failure or other severe cardiovascular events can occur if not detected or treated. Symptoms of heartworm disease include a mild cough, fatigue, lethargy, and decreased appetite. To protect your dog from heartworm, the easiest thing to do is to be proactive. Give your dog a monthly heartworm preventative year round, and include heartworm testing in your annual visit with your veterinarian. Luckily, most vets already include heartworm tests in their physical exams.

Once infected, heartworm is treatable as long as it is caught early, which is why it is important to have your dog tested annually. The treatment is long and can be expensive. Exercise has to be severely restricted in order to prevent further damage to the heart or lungs. Many dogs must be confined to a crate for up to 6 months while they are being treated. Most animal care professionals unanimously agree that is worth spending the extra money every month on preventative rather than risking infection, because of the nature of the treatment. While some areas of the country are more prone to heartworm disease than others, cases have been detected in all 50 states. If there are mosquitoes, there is a risk.

For more information, please visit: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics

Fleas

Fleas

The fleas typically seen in our area are known as cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), and can infect dogs and cats. Fleas are transmitted between animals. While fleas can bite humans, it is rare they will inhabit a human and lay eggs. The flea has four life cycles: egg, larva, pupal, and adult. Adult female fleas lay eggs on a host, which can shed into the bedding area of the animal. Once the eggs hatch into larva, the larvae feed on organic matter shed from the remaining adults on the animal. The larvae spin a cocoon for the pupal stage, which they will stay in until they detect a host. Once they find a new host, they emerge from the cocoon as adult fleas. Adult fleas are the stage that take up residence on our pet. In order to produce eggs, adult fleas need to acquire a blood meal and once they do, adult fleas will lay one egg per hour. The eggs will continue to drop off the host during this time.

If your pet becomes infested with fleas, it is important to fully treat the pet and the environment. Some people overlook the environment and then their pet becomes re-infested. It’s best to keep up with regular preventative treatments for you pet, and to regularly wash animal bedding. Be mindful of the products you use, as some are specified for different life stages of the flea. Most are directed at adult fleas and designed to enter the bloodstream so that when the flea goes to take a blood meal, they die. Adult fleas can go 1-2 days without eating. Some products are designed to target eggs or to kill adult fleas on contact. Feel free to consult with your veterinarian, as fleas can go through different patterns of resistance to products. Veterinarians will be informed about these resistance phases and can recommend a product that is best for your area.

fleas

Ticks

Ticks

All New Englanders should be very familiar with ticks. The most common and problematic tick in the area is the deer tick, otherwise known as the black-legged tick. These are the ticks that spread Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria that is spread when the tick attaches to a host for a blood meal. Lyme disease is often transmitted early in the warmer seasons because the ticks are smaller and harder to detect, but transmission can happen at any time. Luckily, your chance of catching Lyme disease is minimal if you remove the tick from the skin within 24 hours.

There are a couple of ways to prevent tick bites in the first place. The easiest would be to avoid tall grasses and highly vegetative areas all together, but with such beautiful hiking areas in New England, who wants to do that! Another thing you can do is to wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirts while hiking. This will create a barrier between yourself and the tick (you can also try tucking your pants into your socks), and make it easier to see ticks crawling on you. When you get home, completely remove all clothing and dry them on high heat to remove any lingering ticks. Completely check your body for ticks multiple times. Even if you don’t see one immediately after hiking, they could be lingering on you somewhere and attach eventually. Showering after hiking can help remove hidden ticks that haven’t attached yet. Young ticks can be small and look like specks of dirt or a freckle, so be thorough in your search. You could also invest in tick repellent sprays or clothing.

For your pets, you can apply tick repellents to help prevent tick bites. There is also a vaccination that can be given to prevent Lyme Disease. Be sure to check your pet for ticks after hikes. If you have a long hair breed, keeping them short in the summer could make detecting ticks easier.

ticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symptoms of Lyme Disease:

If you enjoy the outdoors, be mindful to monitor your health for symptoms of Lyme disease. It is entirely possible to have a tick feeding off of you and never find it. Symptoms can occur within 3-30 days after being bitten by a tick.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Bull’s-eye rash (it’s common to have a rash after removing a tick, but one indicating Lyme disease will look like the following picture)

tick rash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symptoms in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of joints

 

For more information of ticks or Lyme disease, please visit:

  • Tick Encounter Resource Center through University of Rhode Island (tickencounter.org)
  • http://healthvermont.gov/prevent/lyme/documents/ticks_are_out_booklet.pdf