A Simple Pet Owner’s Guide to Heartworm Disease

Heartworm Disease refers to an ailment affecting dogs primarily (but also sometimes cats and ferrets), in which a parasitic worm invades the heart and pulmonary arteries, infecting the animal and causing damage to the vital organs. Although we  can determine if your pet has heartworm, that’s far from ideal because the worms in that case will already be present. It is far better, simpler and cheaper to prevent the disease in the first place. That’s why it is important to educate yourself a little about the causes and symptoms of the disease:

Happy, Healthy Dog

Causes and Risk Factors

Pets contract heartworm disease when they are bitten by  mosquitoes  infected by microfilariae—or small heartworms that mature into the infective larvae that invade the heart, arteries, and lungs. The infective larvae then mature into adult worms after approximately six months. While heartworm disease can affect nearly any dog or cat, dogs that live in warm, humid  regions  tend to be at a greater risk, since these areas provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.

Symptoms to Look For

The number of heartworms inside your pet builds up gradually, and therefore may not cause symptoms during the early stages. Heavily infected dogs may show symptoms, including a mild persistent cough, fatigue after mild or moderate exercise, reduced appetite, reluctance to move, and weight loss. Symptoms to look for in cats may include gagging or rapid breathing, lethargy, weight loss, and vomiting.

Treatment Options

There are no current heartworm treatments available for cats—however, studies by the  American Heartworm Society  show that cats tend to be more resistant than dogs. The most common treatment utilized for dogs includes a series of injections done on an outpatient basis. In order to spare your pet discomfort and yourself the cost of treatment, you should do everything you can to prevent heartworm disease from taking hold.  

Are you taking the steps necessary to protect your pet from heartworm disease? Give the  Chastain Veterinary Medical Group  a call at Meadow Brook Animal Hospital of McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or at Preston Road Animal Hospital of Dallas at (972) 239-1309 for more information about preventing, diagnosing, and treating heartworm disease. We also offer pet grooming and pet boarding.

What Is a PennHIP Evaluation?

Hip dysplasia is a condition found in many dogs, and is characterized by an improperly formed hip-joint. This condition causes the bones within the leg to move around excessively, ultimately resulting in long-term wear and tear.

This video takes a closer look at PennHIP evaluations for canines. There has been much debate over the past several years about which screening method is best for detecting hip dysplasia in canines. At the Chastain Vet Med Group we consider the radiographic PennHIP evaluation to be the most consistent and objective technique available. Both Dr, Sue and Dr, Clint are certified in PennHIP radiography. The radiographic PennHIP technique is also especially useful because it can determine a dog’s susceptibility to the condition as early as 16 weeks of age. Watch this full clip to learn more.

Is your dog at risk of developing hip dysplasia? Find out by contacting the Chastain Veterinary Medical Group at Meadow Brook Animal Hospital of McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or at Preston Road Animal Hospital of Dallas at (972) 239-1309. We offer PennHIP screening as well as pet boarding, pet grooming and a number of pet wellness services.

What You Need to Know About Chocolate Toxicity

Many people consider their pets as part of the family, and tend to share with them the foods that other family members enjoy. While some foods are safe for your pets to consume in moderation, other items can lead to serious health complications. This article offers a closer look at the way chocolate can affect your pet’s overall health:

Chocolate Lab

How Chocolate Affects Your Pets

Chocolate is made using the cocoa bean, which contains caffeine and a chemical known as theobromine. This chemical has a dangerous impact on your dog’s heart and nervous system, and cannot be digested properly. The higher the amount of theobromine in the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be to your pet. White chocolate contains very little theobromine, while unsweetened baker’s chocolate contains approximately 10 times more of the chemical than milk chocolate. Studies indicate that one ounce of  milk chocolate  per pound of your dog’s body weight can be lethal.

Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity

Your dog may experience a number of symptoms after consuming any amount of chocolate. This includes vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination, and excessive panting. Chocolate consumption can also increase your dog’s heart rate to the point that it causes an arrhythmia or seizures.

Steps to Take if Your Pet Consumes Chocolate

If your pet eats chocolate he/she is likely to get sick. So, it is important to contact your Veterinarian if you know your pet has ingested chocolate, and most especially if your pet is showing any one of the above symptoms. We (or your regular Veterinarian) may administer a vomiting agent followed by activated charcoal in order to prevent your dog’s body from absorbing the remaining toxins. Your pet may also require intravenous fluids, blood testing and medications to protect the heart and prevent future seizures.

For  more information  on protecting your pet’s health, contact the Chastain Veterinary Medical Group at Meadow Brook Animal Hospital of McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or at Preston Road Animal Hospital of Dallas at (972) 239-1309. We offer a number of services, including diagnostic testing, emergency care, allergy testing, and laser therapy.

Want to Know More About Preventing Illness in Your Pet? Then Read Through These Informative Articles

The best way to ensure your pet’s longevity is to guarantee he or she is getting the best care possible and steer clear of obvious, avoidable risk situations. Improve your pet’s wellness by reading over these articles about heartworm and the effects of chocolate consumption.

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  • Gain an understanding of the seriousness of Heartworm Disease by exploring this link from the  American Heartworm Society.
  • Browse through this article from ASPCA.org for an overview of  heartworm disease in dogs.
  • Why is chocolate dangerous to your dog’s health? Find out in this article from  WebMD.com.
  • The symptoms and effects of chocolate consumption will vary based on the size of your dog and the amount of chocolate consumed. Visit this link to  NationalGeographic.com  to see how different dogs react to chocolate.
  • Is your dog at risk for developing  hip dysplasia? Get the facts by reading over this link from the American Animal Hospital Association.

Give  Chastain Veterinary Medical Group  a call at Meadow Brook Animal Hospital of McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or at Preston Road Animal Hospital of Dallas at (972) 239-1309 for more information about our Pet Wellness Services.

We are sad to say farewell to Dr. Megan

We just wanted to wish Dr. Megan nothing but the best as she heads back home to be closer to her family.  We wish you great success and happiness in your future endeavors.    
 
We will miss you!

Employee Spotlight: Leah Essenburg

Leah Essenburg

Hi, I’m Leah Essenburg. I have worked in Client Services at the Chastain Veterinary Medical Group at Meadow Brook Animal Hospital for about seven months now. I have an Associate of Arts degree from Richland College and I am looking forward to attending the Art Institute in the fall, for study of graphic design. I have four dogs at home; they are, Samuel, Ginger, Olivia, and Dallas.

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