Heart-to-Heart About Dog Heartworms & Mosquitoes

heartworms and mosquitoes

I hate mosquitos not only because they’re itchy aggravation, but these nasty vampires spread deadly dog heartworms. That can make your dog sick or worse—it could kill her. Dogs are the natural host–but they also can affect cats–and heartworms have been a problem at least since 1922 when they were first discovered. Today heartworms are found all over the world.

The heartworm Dirofilaria immitis belongs to a group of parasites called filarids, and is a type of roundworm. They live in the right heart chambers and pulmonary arteries—the lungs—of infected dogs. As you can imagine, lungs and heart filled with worms can damage and interfere with normal organ function. You won’t be able to tell if your puppy has heartworms. You can’t see them the way you can fleas or ticks. And your dog won’t even act sick until she’s been infected for quite a while.

cute funny dog running on the grass with stick

Hunting dogs that spend lots of time outdoors are at highest risk.

DOG HEARTWORMS ON THE RISE

Despite the availability of effective and easy to use heartworm preventive options, the disease appears to be on the rise. In just two years, from 2013-2015, there was a 166 percent increase in reported positive heartworm cases, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Additionally, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) has tracked the geographic spread of heartworm disease to all 50 states and its increased prevalence in several regions of the country.

So what’s a pet parent to do?

UPDATE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS & MOSQUITOES

A groundbreaking study by John McCall, MS, PhD addresses this concern, investigating the effectiveness of stopping heartworm disease at the buggy transmission source. His new research shows that a multi-modal approach (adding mosquito repellents and insecticides alongside standard heartworm preventive protocols), offers even better protection for our dogs.

The study, sponsored by CEVA, explored the efficacy of a new “Double Defense” protocol. John McCall is a professor emeritus in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. After fighting heartworm the same way for decades, McCall says it’s time for a new approach that includes fighting the mosquito as well as the heartworm.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS

Please ask YOUR veterinarian about how you can best protect your dogs from mosquitoes and dog heartworms. Learn more about Dr. McCall’s CEVA-funded study in this short video.

Several years ago, I interviewed Dr. Wallace Graham about prevention, treatment and more in my Pet Peeves radio show. Much of this information is still valid, so find out more about how to keep cats and dogs safe from heartworm disease in PET PEEVES, HEART-TO-HEART ABOUT HEARTWORMS.


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

A mosquito bite is more than just an ouch! That bite transmits diseases - possibly Zika to people and heartworms to our beloved pets. There are ways to reduce the mosquito population around your home, prevent bites and protect the whole family. And, a new study suggests a "Double Defense" protocol may protect your pet best. Learn more at www.fightheartwormnow.com (PRNewsFoto/Ceva Animal Health)

A mosquito bite is more than just an ouch! That bite transmits diseases – possibly Zika to people and heartworms to our beloved pets. There are ways to reduce the mosquito population around your home, prevent bites and protect the whole family. And, a new study suggests a “Double Defense” protocol may protect your pet best. Learn more at www.fightheartwormnow.com (PRNewsFoto/Ceva Animal Health)

Dog Digging Disasters: Why Dogs Dig & How to Stop Excavations

canine digging in sand

Digging is a normal canine behavior.

Dogs excavate for a variety of reasons. Dog digging is a natural canine behavior that evolved as a means of survival.

I’m sharing this entry about DOG DIGGING, an excerpt from Dog Facts, The Series 4 (Chapter D)This chapter covers a lot of ground, and here’s the topic list:

Dam, Deafness, Dehydration, Demodecosis, Dermatitis, Diabetes Mellitus, Diarrhea, Digging, Disc Disease, Docking, Dominance, Dreaming, Drooling, Drowning, Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted treat-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire book either in Kindle or 630+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

Dog Facts The Series

WHY DOGS DIG

The dog’s footpads are very thick and callused, and are the toughest area of her body. Dogs use their claws and paws to shovel dirt when pursuing burrowing varmints, to bury food or toys for safe-keeping, and to create nests in the snow or dirt that protect them from the cold of winter, or the heat of the summer. Dogs also dig to escape, by tunneling beneath fences meant to confine them from harm.

Dog digging is practiced by all canines, but terrier breeds live for the joy of kicking up dirt. The word “terrier” means “of the earth;” terriers were developed specifically to dig in pursuit of below-ground prey.

PROBLEM DOG DIGGING

Dog digging becomes a problem when your dog is given no opportunity to indulge the urge; left to her own devices, she’ll often choose an inappropriate outlet. Dogs dig holes in the yard, un-plant your flowerbed or potted plants, empty the cat’s litter box, or even attempt to tunnel through carpeting, upholstery, and hardwood floors. When confined, dogs often scratch at doors or the floor in an effort to get out.

Digging becomes particularly problematic in dogs that are bored, and conversely, digging enthusiasm can be dampened by giving the dog something better to do. First, be sure you provide your dog with at least 20 minutes (40 is better!) of aerobic exercise every day. Burn off her energy by playing games of fetch or taking her on a brisk walk.

Northern breeds like the Husky instinctively dig holes to stay cool...or warm.

Northern breeds like the Husky instinctively dig holes to stay cool…or warm.

DOG DIGGING MOTIVATIONS & SOLUTIONS

If your dog is caching toys or food, then only allow her to have these items for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. Take them away when she begins to lose interest, and offer them again at a later time. Some dogs bury objects to prevent another dog from stealing them. Give your dog privacy away from the competition if this is the case.

Digging holes to stay cool can be cured by providing your dog with a shaded area out of the sun, such as access to the covered porch or patio. A dog run with a concrete floor and shaded roof will provide a secure, comfortable outdoor area for the dog that can’t be pockmarked by digging.

For hard-case diggers, build a sand box for his legal excavation. A shaded area about three feet wide, six feet long and two feet deep will satisfy most dogs. Let him see you bury one or two of his toys (very shallowly) and then encourage him to dig them up. Get down on your hands and knees and show him by pawing the sand with your hand.

Escape from a fence (aka "boredom") motivates many dogs to dig holes.

Escape from a fence (aka “boredom”) or hearing varmints underground motivates many dogs to dig holes.

LET ME OUT!

Dogs that dig to escape confinement may be discouraged when their holes are filled with bricks—eventually the dog should become convinced he’ll run into bricks wherever he digs. Dogs also dislike digging up feces, so you may discourage a hard-case digger by “planting” his own feces in the holes, and covering them up as a sort of booby-trap.

Indoor dog digging may require more specialized corrections. Provide some distraction, like legal chews or a favorite toy, to give the bored dog something better to do. Put a cover on the cat’s litter box, or move it out of reach. Cover the surface of large potted plants with gravel or larger rocks to make the contents unattractive to canine diggers.

Dog Facts Chapter DObedience training is the single most important step dog owners can take to prevent and correct problem behaviors like inappropriate digging.

Find out more details about digging and other “D” topics in  Dog Facts, The Series 4 (Chapter D).

Does your dog dig? Is your back yard a moonscape of excavations? How do curb the impulse to kick up dirt? Please share your tips and tricks so others can help save landscaping and still enjoy their canine diggity dogs.


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!



National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day #Cat2VetDay

KarmaSerenSandwich

The “laying on of paws” does not replace proper vet care!

Monday, August 22, is “National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day” (#Cat2VetDay) and the cat veterinarians from American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) is using this as an opportunity to educate cat owners on the importance of routine check-ups. Last year for this promotion I reported that eighty-three percent of cats are taken to the vet in the first year of ownership, yet over half of them don’t return!

AAFP wants to get the word out all through August. So…are you ready to get Kitty to the vet? What’s holding you back?

Click Here to Get 5 Expert Crate Training Tips!

What About Dr. Google?

Now, y’all know I have a boatload of books available about how to care for your furry wonders, from kittenhood to old age, first aid and everything in between. But a book or an Internet search is NOT how best to care for your cat!

Kitty needs hands-on whisker-to-vet interaction to ensure s/he’s healthy and will maintain that health for all of her nine lives. By the time you notice something may be amiss, it’s likely been percolating for a while…

Young female veterinarian with a cat in her arms

How To Help

Don’t just spring the notion on Kitty-kins in one day. Plan ahead. You’ll want to get your cat used to the carrier. So check out this how-to blog with a kewl video for tips.

Then for some quick tips, read below.

  1. Check out the PAW-some Infographic, below.
  2. Please TWEET about this using the #Cat2VetDay hashtag.
  3. CALL your vet today and make an appointment for your furry wonders.
  4. SHARE on Facebook. We need to get our cats some furry love.
  5. Oh, and here’s another great resources, a PDF you can share far and wide with more great info: 5 Cat-Tastic Benefits of Routine Vet Visits!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Catnip: More Than A Treat

black cat drunk on catnip

Catnip turns kitties into tipsy clowns.

I have no doubt that catnip prompted the Cheshire Cat’s grin. My cat Seren wears the same expression when she indulges. August 8 is INTERNATIONAL CAT DAY, and the perfect time to indulge your furry friend.

But why do cats find this nondescript herb so attractive? Is it a kitty aphrodisiac, a harmless pleasure or something more sinister?

CLICK HERE! TO GET AMY’S 6 MEOW-SILENCING TIPS!

What Is Catnip?

Nepeta cataria, or catnip, is a strong-scented mint that contains a volatile oil that’s easily released into the air. Biting or rolling on the plant crushes the leaves and releases the oil so Kitty can get a good sniff. It doesn’t take much. Cats can detect catnip oil in the air at a saturation as low as one part per billion.

I’m sharing this information from my CATNIP entry from Cat Facts, The Series 3: The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia covering Cancer, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Carnivore, Car Sickness, Cataract, Catnip, Cat Scratch Disease, Cesarean, Cherry Eye, Chiropractic, Chocolate Toxicity, Claws, Climbing, Coccidiosis, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, Colitis, Communication, Constipation, Cryptorchid, Cuterebra, Cyst, Cystitis, Cytauxzoon, and Cytology.

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

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How Catnip Works

Rather than a simple smell, the chemical in catnip resembles sedative components also found in the valerian plant, which may be used in natural therapies to calm pets and people. Catnip also may be similar to one of the substances found in tomcat urine—yucky to you, but a lovely smell to the cat! In fact, this pheromone in urine often triggers the same sort of behavioral reaction in cats as exposure to catnip.

These types of chemicals, once inhaled, enter the cat’s highly specialized scenting organ through the roof of the mouth. The vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organs sit between the hard palate of the mouth and the septum of the nose, and connect to the mouth via tiny conduits directly behind the cat’s upper incisor teeth. You may see kitty perform an odd facial grimace (flehmen) with lips curled back and mouth open when employing this organ.

Russian blue cat catnip high

Catnip is a kitty hallucinogen.

Can Cats Get “High?”

The Jacobson’s organs are linked to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that acts like a switchboard to direct information to higher centers. This part of the brain integrates taste and smell, motivates appetite, and triggers a variety of behaviors.

Catnip in cats affects the same biochemical pathways that are affected by marijuana and LSD in people. In its simplest terms, catnip is a feline hallucinogen. The kitty “high” lasts from five to 15 minutes, and causes a loss of inhibition. Catnip-intoxicated cats act like furry fools who roll and flop about on the floor, drool, and have a wonderful relaxing time.

Which Cats Are Affected

Cats rarely respond to catnip until they are about six months old, and some cats never do. The trait is an inherited one, with only two out of three domestic cats being affected. Boy cats seem to respond more strongly than females.

Since catnip belongs in the mint family, cats often react in a similar way to other types of mint. I’ve even seen some cats react to a type of honeysuckle—or even olives.

cat rolling in fresh catnip

Fresh catnip is the best–cats roll to release the volatile oils

Catnip Stress Buster & Training Tool

Most scientists agree that catnip provides a harmless recreation for cats. For cats who respond, catnip can be a wonderful training tool. Catnip builds the confidence of some shy cats, and it can be used to “spike” the legal scratch objects to help lure kitty to do the right thing. Catnip can help take the cat’s mind off of the scary car ride—or at least induce a catnip snooze so she doesn’t care anymore.

ipadverticalright_634x982You’ll find catnip toys, herbs, even growing kits advertised in all the finest cat magazines, “special” brands touted in pet stores, and feline fanciers comparing quality like true gourmands. The fresher the herb, the more likely your cat is to react. And no, catnip doesn’t affect people the same way, although it has in the past been used as a soothing tea for upset tummies.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Be aware, though, overindulgence may “wear out” your cat’s response to the plant. An occasional treat, perhaps once every two or three weeks, is plenty. 

Find out more details about catnip and other “C” topics in Cat Facts, The Series 3: The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia

Does your cat react to catnip? Do you use a bit of ‘nip to help your cat relax, or as a reward or as….what? Is there anything else your cats react to in a similar fashion? Here’s how Seren reacts, LOL!

CLICK HERE! TO GET AMY’S 6 MEOW-SILENCING TIPS!


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Thoughty Thursday: What’s YOUR Bliss?

MagicKiss blissI’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, all why searching for my own personal bliss. Some were glorious adventures while others hit big numbers on the suck-ometer. That happens, when you follow your muse…in my cases, a furry one.

Jobs, Careers & the Bliss Factor

I’m a college graduate (woo-woo! thanks Mom and Dad!) with a double major in music and communication (aka theater/writing/fill-in-the-blank). So what’s my work history with such credentials?

Cashier, actress, newspaper delivery person, optometric associate, legal assistant, TV news reporter/anchor, voice teacher, vet tech, bank compliance officer, author, behavior consultant, spokesperson, middle school and high school choir teacher. For a while, I wondered if my folks had wasted their money sending me to college when it seemed my “just a job” treading water (to put, you know, bread on the table) had little to nothing to do with my original aspirations. Along with each came a boatload of shoveling crappiocca (and dodging what was lobbed my direction).

Grubby paws can mean you’re digging for gold!

Being Grateful For Crap

Would I change a single day? Well yeah…there are a few I’d give anything for a do-over. The worst times made me that much more determined to reach that shiny brass ring. And some days, I made enough headway to see it up close and personal.

I think without the bad times, I wouldn’t be as appreciative of the not-bad-times. The contrast makes each stand out more stark and bright and distinctive. It’s a struggle sometimes to be that optimist especially when the world around us has lost it’s sparkle, and the darkest portions seem to catch the spotlight attention, drowning out the goodness that I know is there.

For me, I gotta focus on the good stuff or I’ll drown in the pessimism. Goodness doesn’t always come in a spotlight, either–it rarely attracts the hand-waving LOOK-LOOK-LOOK that media wants. No, the goodness comes quietly, without fanfare, and sort of sneaks up on you: A grocery store clerk going out of her way to help find an elusive product. A stranger in the car ahead paying for a Starbucks. Prayer chain at church making a difference. A car stopping a line of traffic to let a mom-duck and ducklings waddle safely across the road.

If the “big bad” throws a large shadow, each of these tiny pinpricks of light are cumulative. You don’t need one big GOOD THING to throw the darkness back where it belongs–taken together, those individual star-shines out-shout the sun.

Finding Bliss Means Watching For Star-Shine Moments

No more dwelling on doom and gloom for me. Today, I resolve to take stock on a daily basis. Watch attentively for the tiny sparks of goodness that together banish the bad. Oh, and to add my own tiny flame to help fan that ember to full light.

Some folks-in-charge aren’t nearly as classy as this lil’ fellow. 

We all make excuses. It’s the human thing to do. But if something or someone tried to keep me from my fur-kids, from writing my heart, from shiny objects or my music, my God-gifted bliss—I’d by-heaven find a way over, through, or around. And shame on me for letting anyone try to take that away!

“Bliss is a ball . . .”

There’s a rush, a natural “right-ness” and physical Snoopy-Dance-‘O-Joy feeling in doing what is meant to be. It never gets old, but there’s no real destination, either. It’s a moving target that makes you reeeeeach just a bit beyond comfort level time and again.

I’m ready to stretch a bit. How ‘bout you? What is your bliss? What’s kept you from reaching out for that brass ring? Are you ready to join your spark to the light shining just over the horizon?

Magic says…”Bliss is Frisbee-Fetch!”


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!