RVVS Blog

Preventing Lyme Disease

Written by River Valley Veterinary on . Posted in RVVS Blog

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Ticks are nasty little critters, causing problems for both animals and humans. One of the most famous dangers associated with ticks is Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick (or black-legged tick) and the western black-legged tick. These ticks are quite small and hard to spot by humans.

Not all of these ticks carry Lyme disease, and even if they do, not all hosts will be affected by it. Still, it's best to assume that no tick is safe and to avoid them if at all possible.

An easy way to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections is to treat your pet with flea and tick repellents. It's also best to keep your pet away from tick-infested areas in the spring and summer, such as woods and grassy areas. If you and your pet do spend time in these areas, inspect both yourself and your pet for ticks after you return. Removing ticks by hand is an effective way of preventing Lyme disease, since ticks need to be attached to their host for about 48 hours before the disease is transmitted.

To safely remove a tick by hand, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick at its head (where it is attached to the skin) and pull firmly without yanking, jerking or twisting. Kill the tick by placing it in rubbing alcohol; make sure the container you use has a lid so the tick can't escape. Flushing the tick down the toilet will not kill it.

Lyme disease occurs much more commonly in dogs than in cats or other animals. Unlike humans, dogs do not develop the trademark "bull's-eye" rash at the tick bite site. Their symptoms also occur much later?several weeks to even months?after being infected. Some dogs don't show any symptoms at all.

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are:

- Swollen joints

- A stiff walk, often with an arched back

- Fever

- Depression or lethargy

- Loss of appetite

Lyme disease is diagnosed by a series of blood tests, and treatment is a simple round of antibiotics. Most dogs respond to treatment within a few days. Once an animal is infected with Lyme disease, he can contract it again, so treatment is not a guaranteed cure. Fortunately, in most cases, Lyme disease is not life-threatening. Some dogs, however, can develop kidney damage, which may lead to kidney failure and death. That's why the best method of protecting your pet from Lyme disease is tick prevention.

Our veterinary team can help you select the best tick control method for your pet. Contact us today to ensure your pet is protected for the spring and summer.

Heartworm Heartache

Written by River Valley Veterinary on . Posted in RVVS Blog

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Heartworm is a serious, even potentially fatal disease that is transmitted to dogs and cats when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

Like many diseases, heartworm may have few, if any, symptoms during its earliest stages. But once the infection takes hold, dog parents are likely to notice their pup having a persistent cough, being reluctant to exercise or play, and being winded after physical activity. Infected dogs may also have a decreased appetite, leading to weight loss. As the disease progresses, the dog may have a swollen belly due to excess fluid in his abdomen. Cat parents may see coughing, asthma-like issues, vomiting and loss of appetite. In very severe cases, dogs or cats can even die suddenly with few or no signs of prior illness.

Needless to say, pet parents never want to see their beloved pals suffering from these sorts of symptoms, and fortunately, they don't have to since heartworm can be easily prevented. A simple, routine preventive medication plan can protect your furry companions from infection by a mosquito carrier and the myriad of health problems that it causes. Let us help by conducting simple tests to confirm that your pets are currently heartworm free, then recommending a preventive medication routine that will keep them safe from heartworm infection year-round.