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Prevention and Treatment of Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm can have devastating consequences for your pet, including death. It is especially tragic when dogs and cats succumb to heartworm disease when it’s entirely preventable. Now that warm weather is finally here, your dog or cat has a much greater likelihood of acquiring heartworm just by being outside since the most common route of transmission is a bite from an infected mosquito. However, pets can pick up the heartworm parasite any time of year. This is the reason we recommend year-round heartworm protection at Westgate Pet Clinic.

Heartworm Prevention and Testing

Although it's more common for dogs to get heartworm disease because they make an ideal host and typically spend more time outdoors, it’s important to understand that cats get heartworm as well. Unfortunately, for our feline friends no effective heartworm treatment exists for cats who test positive.

Puppies should start preventive medication for heartworm by eight weeks old. While it isn’t necessary to test puppies that young before starting on a product, puppies over six months old do require testing. Puppies and dogs need only one simple blood test to determine the presence of heartworm. Similarly, cats should be started on a heartworm preventive once they are eight weeks old.

Common Signs of Heartworm Infestation

When dogs acquire heartworm, the parasite usually lives in the heart and the right ventricle. This produces the following types of symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

It’s also possible that your pet won’t show any indication of heartworm even when he has them. Sadly, the first indication of heartworm in some pets can be sudden collapse and death. All pets should have year-round heartworm protection, even those who never go outside. It’s too easy for mosquitoes to get into your home and infect them.

If you suspect that your dog or cat has heartworm based on these symptoms, please schedule an appointment at Westgate Pet Clinic right away. We will complete testing and discuss treatment options if results come back positive.

It’s Easier to Prevent Heartworm Than Treat It

We’re happy to let you know that we carry many heartworm prevention products in our clinic and online store. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like a recommendation on the most effective product for your pet. You can schedule an appointment by calling our clinic at (612) 925-1121.

Fanatic About Food Safety

fanatic about food

We hear about food safety for ourselves on a regular basis. Cook this food to this temperature, throw away that food after a certain period of time and so on. But what about our pet's food? September is National Food Safety Education Month, and Westgate Pet Clinic has several suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare your furry friend's daily meals.

 
Things to look for in a dry or wet food for your pet include natural preservatives, including Vitamins C and E, or preservative free; human-grade ingredients; and made in the United States. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) makes sure all ingredients used in pet foods are safe and have an appropriate function in the food. They recommend purchasing products in good condition without signs of damage to the packaging such as dents or tears.
 
Keep your pet's food and water bowls clean. Pets have bacterial microbes in their mouths just as we do, microbes that can be transferred to food and water dishes. A little food left in the dish makes a good environment for bacteria to grow, potentially causing illness for your pet and any (small) human who may play with the dishes. It's recommended to wash the food bowl between meals each day and the water bowl every other day.
 
Store your pet's food safely. If you serve a moist food, refrigerate it promptly or throw away any unused, leftover pet food. Leftover dry food and treats should be stored in a cool, dry place -- under 80 degrees -- in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid. Always keep the top of the bag folded close and wash and dry the pet food storage container before refilling with new food.
 
Always wash your hands before and after handling and preparing your pet's food. Though we've always been told to do this for our human food, the same goes with our pets. Bacteria and microorganisms such as salmonella can be spread from us to our pets, especially by accident. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling her food, including treats and feeding dishes.
 
Avoid feeding your pet a raw food diet. While many believe raw food is good for pets as it allows them to return to their primal roots, these food items can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter. These bacteria can be transferred between pets and humans alike. Raw diets include meat, poultry, milk and eggs that have not been cooked or treated to remove illness-causing germs.
 
When shopping for pet foods, here is a list of ingredients to avoid:
  • PG (Propylene Glycol) -- A chemical derivative of antifreeze, PG is commonly found in faux-meat dog treats that resemble bacon or sausage and some dog foods with a moist or crumbly texture. It is banned for use in feline products.
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) -- These chemical fat preservatives are known carcinogens and have been banned in pet and human foods in Australia, Japan, Romania and Sweden, but are allowed in the United States.
  • Ethoxyquin -- A chemical preservative, ethoxyquin can enter your pet's food or treat as in protein "meals." It is illegal to use in human foods, as data reports state it is harmful when swallowed or has direct contact with skin, but is still allowed in pet food.
  • Food dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE) -- These color named dyes have been known to contribute to hypersensitivity reactions, behavioral problems and cancer in humans. 4-MIE is known as a carcinogen in animals.
  • Rendered fat -- Though it provides a flavor enhancement for dry foods, rendered fat is a source of microorganisms and toxins that can flourish if moisture enters the bag.
  • Corn and wheat gluten


Food safety goes beyond keeping refrigerated only items cool at all times. And though there are a multitude of pet foods and options on the market, we can help you wade through everything and set up a diet for your pet that meets her dietary needs safely and sufficiently and that your furry friend will find tasty and satisfying. Check out our online store for a complete line of food options that we offer, including specialty diets. We even make it easy to get food to your home with FREE SHIPPING! Contact us at (612) 925-1121 with any questions about food safety or setting up a personalized diet for your pet. 


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Copyright © 2018 by Uhlig LLC. All rights reserved 

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We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.

 
 
 

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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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(612)925-1121
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