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?

dog heartworms

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.

I first reported on this study back in Fall 2016, and am delighted to share more information as the study has progressed. 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.

PREVENTING VS TREATING HEARTWORMS

Preventives that address heartworms are one important part of canine health care. But until recently, preventing the vector (mosquito) hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, according to Byron Blagburn, MS, PhD, DAVCM, a professor of parasitology,, researcher, and author of the mosquito control guidelines.

Recently, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) included more information on how to control mosquitoes, adding science-based evidence to these guidelines on mosquito control. New recommendations include choosing heartworm and parasite prevention products that also address the mosquito menace. Several canine products are available, and you should consult with your veterinarian for the best choices for your individual dogs and circumstances. You can also learn more at GoodNewsForPets.

According to the Heartworm Incidence Survey from the American Heartworm Society, The average number of dogs diagnosed per clinic in 2016 rose by 21.7 percent over 2013 numbers (date of the last survey). AHS president and veterinarian Dr. Christopher Rehm says that the distribution of cases hasn’t dramatically changed, 24% of respondents said the average number of positive dogs has increased since 2013.

2017 Heartworm Predictions–Keep Dogs Safe!

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)

Thriller Thursday: 20 Paperback Mysteries Give-Away!

Ready for summer beach reads? I’m pleased to partner with a dozen other authors to offer this THRILLING give-away of actual for-real PRINT mysteries! Check out the list of books, above. Here’s the details.

ONE winner gets 10 of the paperback books.

TWO winners get 5 each of the paperback books.

What’s not to love? The give-away runs through June 15, so don’t delay.

PLEASE SHARE with anyone who loves reading great books.

ENTER THE GIVE AWAY BY CLICKING HERE!


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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!

 

Celebrating Cat Writing Awards that Celebrate Cats! Get Your Gift Book Here

Cat Writers Hosts Awards Banquet

I have attended every Cat Writers Association event since the beginning that celebrates cat writing awards, and almost missed the 23rd Annual Conference and Awards Banquet this past weekend. Part of that was concern about my two aging pets. Magical-Dawg at age 10 and Seren-Kitty now 21 years old are not in ideal health, and I know my colleagues understand the pets must come first.

With some gentle purr-suasion, though, I was convinced to make an appearance. So I flew to Myrtle Beach on Friday for an overnight stay, to attend the awards banquet and some of the Saturday sessions before returning home. Boy, I’m glad that I did! With 240 entries and 42 awards presented, for writers like me, this is the a-CAT-amy awards.

One of the best parts of the annual event is reconnecting with colleagues and friends like PetWorldInsider folks (above), and networking with pet products companies. This year, I had little opportunity to visit the exhibit hall, but gave and received as many hugs and greetings as possible.

Shojai Mentor Award recognizes the CWA member who has helped someone else achieve writing/publishing goals.

Wins, Wins Everywhere!

Muse presented by Conference Co-Chair Sharon Melnyk

The Friday night banquet offers a chance to BLING UP. In addition to being nominated for several awards, I also sponsored and presented the SHOJAI MENTOR AWARD (above), this year given to longtime CWA member Paul Glassner.

Muse Medallion presented by CWA Contest Chair Arden Moore

MUSE MEDALLION WINS!

I was delighted to receive recognition for my Herald Democrat newspaper column, P’ETiQuette. These medallion categories are judged by three professional CWA members, and the highest of their composite score selects the winner. It always means so much to be recognized by peers.

My second Muse Medallion recognized a cat behavior blog contributions I write for PetSafe.com Paw Print Blog. This Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog also was nominated so actually, I got to compete with myself!

The prize didn’t fit in my suitcase so I’m still waiting for it to be shipped.

FEAR FREE PETS AWARD

I’ve talked about the Fear Free Pets initiative before and I believe so much in this program, I’ve become Fear Free Certified, too. The program inspired me to write one of my quick tips books MY CAT HATES MY VET: Foiling Fear Before, During & After Vet Visits–and that booklet last Friday night won the Fear Free Pets Award, mee-wow! The prize comes with a $2000 cash award, plus that whimsical mirror shown above (Peeping Toms, LOL!). I was excited to receive the award from Dr. Elizabeth Bales (left) and CWA President Marci Kladnik (left).

Dr. Ken Labrecht and “Bug” presents the AAFP Cat Friendly Award

AAFP CAT FRIENDLY AWARD

Not only did MY CAT HATES MY VET win the Fear Free Pets award, it also was recognized by the American Association of Feline Practitioners with the Cat Friendly Award of $500 and a certificate. The Cat Friendly Practice initiative seeks to make veterinary practices “feline friendly” to increase cat health visits.

To celebrate these honors, I’ve made the Ebook version FREE for the next few days (until Friday). So please tell everyone to get a copy of the free book here and get rid of the HISSES surrounding vet visits.

The Hartz Every Day Chewable Vitamin Award

Finally, an editorial about caring for aging cats received the Hartz Award of $500 and a gorgeous glass engraved trophy. Since I have a 21-year-old kitty, this is a topic very close to my heart. My friend and colleague, contest chair Arden Moore (below, left) presented the trophy that evening.Next year’s event will soon be announced. If you love cats, it’s a conference and cat writing contest you don’t want to miss!


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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thriller Thursday: Melodie Winawer’s Historical Epic, The Scribe of Siena

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

THRILLER THURSDAY is a new occasional feature of Bling, Bitches & Blood. As a member of International Thriller Writers and alumni of the ITW Debut Author Program, it is my honor to showcase select ITW authors and books participating in the ITW Bloggers Program. If you love reading great books as much as I do, check out my Spotlight Guest MELODIE WINAWER!

Hey there Sweet Peeps! Seems we’ve got a whole slew of thrilling new books (and authors) lately, and I’m delighted to introduce you to Melodie Winawer and her new thriller THE SCRIBE OF SIENA. This medical mystery/time travel romance (plague? painters? Italy?) sounds like a wonderful adventure in reading!

AUTHOR BIO

Melodie Winawer is a physician-scientist and Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. A graduate of Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University with degrees in biological psychology, medicine, and epidemiology, she has published over fifty nonfiction articles and book chapters. She is fluent in Spanish and French, literate in Latin, and has a passable knowledge of ItalianDr. Winawer lives with her spouse and their three young children in Brooklyn, New York. The Scribe of Siena is her first novel.

PRAISE for the Book

“The vivid descriptions of the people, way of life, food, and other details of medieval Italy deepen the plot, making the book a truly immersive experience. The novel dramatically brings to life a period in Siena’s history that is still overwhelmingly neglected by historians—it is still unclear why Siena was ravaged by the plague in ways unseen in other Italian cities. Winawer has created a prodigious, vibrant tale of past and present that transports readers and fills in the historical gaps. This is a marvelous work of research and invention.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An engrossing historical epic. Winawer’s wide-ranging, romantic story moves apace, yet it has considerable meat on its structural bones, with plentiful details on fourteenth-century Sienese daily life, customs, art, and travel.” — Booklist

“Will remind historical fiction readers of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Tracy Chevalier’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring…Lovers of meticulously researched historical fiction and time-travel narratives will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena.” – Library Journal (starred review)

“The realities of day-to-day existence in 1340s Europe are so viscerally represented that readers will readily accept the fanciful premise.” Kirkus Reviews

Connect with AUTHOR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorMelodieWinawer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/melodiewinawer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30753660-the-scribe-of-siena

Website: http://melodiewinawer.com/

THE SCRIBE OF SIENA . . . THE STORY

In this transporting love story and gripping historical conspiracy—think The Girl with a Pearl Earring meets Outlanderaccomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is beginning to hinder her work. When her beloved brother, a historian, passes away suddenly, she travels to the Tuscan city of Siena to settle his estate. Overworked and in need of a respite, she welcomes the unexpected trip as she wrestles with her grief. As she delves into her brother’s affairs and his unfinished research, she discovers evidence of a 650-year-old conspiracy to destroy Siena.

While attempting to prove her brother’s theory, she unearths the journal and paintings of a 14th-century fresco painter named Gabriele Accorsi, the man at the heart of the plot. In one of Accorsi’s paintings, she discovers a woman who bears a startling resemblance to herself. The journal works as a portal to the past and Beatrice is transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her—a city that will soon be devastated by the Black Plague.

In Siena, Beatrice meets Accorsi and falls in love—not only with the painter but with the cadence of medieval life itself. At the same time, she and Gabriele find themselves pitted against a Florentine conspiracy bent on destroying the city. As the Plague and the ruthless men navigating its deadly path threaten Siena, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

GET THE BOOK

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
Indiebound

Signed Copies: Community Bookstore

Read More Here!

Michael Neimann Blog Spotlight

Interview with a Physician/Novelist


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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!

How to Leash Train Cats

Why would you want to leash train cats and confine kitties from stalking and pouncing? Isn’t that mean? Actually, it’s not cruel, but without proper introduction, it can be a wee bit scary. In my Complete Kitten Care book, I call this LIBERATION TRAINING. Teaching your new cat to walk on a leash is a safety issue, but also means they get to venture beyond the confines of your house and into the yard and beyond.

This week during a cat consult, a pet parent asked about training her cat to walk on a leash. And with spring and summer weather now upon us, it’s a good time to revisit the notion. An adult cat won’t automatically understand the concept, though, so this blog not only explains the benefits of leash training to YOU, it also helps you purr-suade your cats to get a new leash on life. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

seren leash & table

Seren feels calmer when wearing her harness. Image Copr Amy Shojai, CABC

How To Leash Train Cats–Choose The Best Halter & Leash

I like the figure-8 harnesses because when the cat tugs (as nearly all will), the design tightens so they can’t wriggle out and escape. These often come already attached to a leash. The smallest size H-harnesses made for Toy-size dogs may also work. The jacket-style harnesses also work well for cats, particularly for big kitties. These fasten with Velcro and are adjustable for the best comfort fit.

When the harness and leash come separate, I recommend a light weight fabric leash that won’t weigh down the cat. A six-foot or shorter leash works well. You don’t need the kitty ranging too far from you for safety reasons, so I don’t recommend the retractable spooled leashes for that reason.

Whatever the style, it’s vital that the harness be fitted correctly for two reasons—first, a cat not used to the outside easily becomes frightened and lost if she gets away.

And second, even if she escapes the harness while inside the house, it teaches the cat that she CAN escape, so she’ll continue to fight the harness. You want the cat to accept the harness and leash so she can fully enjoy the benefits.

Training Cats–Really?! Yes!

Kittens are incredibly easy to leash train. I’ve had shelter kittens walk happily on leash within five to ten minutes of meeting them. It takes a bit longer with adult cats, but the technique for leash training your cat is the same whether she’s a kitten or a senior citizen cat.

Seren learned to walk on a leash when she was about five months old. At less that 7 pounds, I got her one of those tiny dog H-harness contraptions and had to adjust it down even farther. That of course was over 20 years ago, and times have changed. Today there are new options for kitty harnesses that are much more comfortable for the cat, and less likely for the pet to wriggle out.

Karma-Kat Walking Vest & Why Leash Train Cats

So I took a look around when Karma came to stay. Although Seren only rarely went outside on walks and never without her harness and leash, I suspect Karma may be more interested in an occasional ramble. Why do this? Well, for a couple of reasons.

KarmaHalter

Karma is still adjusting to his halter-vest. Image Copr Amy Shojai, CABC

First, I want Karma to be comfy wearing the equipment–and it actually seems to calm him down somewhat so that’s a plus! Also, wearing a harness gives me added grab-icity (something to hang on to) if he decides to wriggle around. I’ve found this to be very helpful with Seren during vet visits as she’s not a very happy patient.

Finally, because of the way Karma came to us–wandering up onto the back patio–there’s a chance he got away from someone. Yes, he’s now microchipped just in case that ever happens again. But ultimately, I want Karma to be very familiar with the immediate area surrounding our house, so he knows and can recognize HOME.

Lost cats rarely run far away from their house even if they get out, but they may hide–and if chased by a strange dog or (gulp!) coyote, they might race far away from familiar territory. This actually was part of the plot point in my second thriller HIDE AND SEEK, where the main character hung up a variety of wind chimes around the house that also served as audio signposts to the pets.

For Karma I chose a small dog harness that also works well for cats. Puppia comes in a variety of colors and sizes and there are many other options that may also work well for your cat. You can check it out here:

PUPPIA International Puppia Harness Soft B Vest SKY BLUE Medium

How to Leash Train Cats, Step-By-Step

Make It Part of the Furniture. Leave the halter and leash on the floor for your kitty to find.

Smell It Up. Make the halter smell like him by petting him with it, so it’s less frightening. Remember, cats communicate with smell, so if it has a familiar scent, the cat will be more accepting of the halter. If he really likes catnip, spike it with this cat-friendly herb.

Turn It Into A Game. Drag the leash around like a toy, and praise Kitty when he catches it, to associate the leash with fun times. Make the leash-chase-game part of his routine, always beginning the process with the halter-petting. Do this for at least a week before you ever attempt to put the halter on your cat. Once the leash and halter have become part of his normal routine, sit on the floor to play with the cat put the halter on him.

Lure Him to Move. If he tolerates wearing the halter and immediately moves around or licks it—BRAVO! You have a genius cat ahead of the game. But if he turns into a furry lump and refuses to move (typical of many cats), use the end of the leash to get him engaged in that familiar chase game.

The key is to get them moving, because once he does get up and discovers he’s not “tied down” he’ll be willing to explore—and that’s the whole purpose of the halter and leash training. If he’s not interested in the leash, try using a feather lure or a treat—anything to convince the cat he’s able to move is legal. After five minutes, take off the halter.

Baby Paw Steps. Gradually increase the amount of time that he wears the halter.

Bribes Are Legal. Be sure to offer a special treat or toy/game after each session so he recognizes there is a lovely payday to be earned.

Let the Cat Lead. After several days, when he’s no longer protesting, clip on the leash and hold it while following him around. Let him direct where you go, rather than pulling or tugging to direct him. At least initially you want him to believe he calls the shots—use the feather lure to get him moving the direction you like.

KarmaHalter2

“Hey, I really can move in this thing!” Image copr Amy Shojai, CABC

Success At Last!

Eventually, when both you and Kitty feel secure on the leash, you can explore the porch, smell the roses, or even mall walk together. Be one of those fashionistas who visit the pet products stores and allow Kitty to choose his own toys!  And if you wish to make a really bold fashion statement, I know for a fact that kitty halters and leashes come with sequins.

By the way, the first two times I put on his vest, Karma pulled the old OMG I’M PARALYZED! routine and fell over on his side and lay there. Even my standard technique of teasing him to move with cat wand toys failed to get him up and moving more than two or three wobbly steps. So I took off the leash, and walked into the other room for something and….IT’S A MIRACLE! he raced in after me, stopped as if caught in his act, and sauntered on into the room. Now he’s rocking his kitty vest!

Do your cats ever go outside on leash (or otherwise?). How do you ensure they stay safe? Have you created scented or audible or special visual signposts to aid a new pet to know that THIS is home? Does allowing them outdoor access “create a monster” so they beg to go out? I found that happens with some cats, but never has been a problem with Seren. We’ll find out about Karma.

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!

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