Heart-to-Heart About Dog Heartworms & Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes swarm these days when I work in the garden. I worry about dog heartworms with the increase of these buggy pests. Are your dogs protected? 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

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. He investigated the effectiveness of stopping heartworm disease at the buggy transmission source. His 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. 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.

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.

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.

2021 Heartworm Predictions–Keep Dogs Safe!

Heartworm map

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.

For more about parasite prevention, refer to this post.


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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats

Kitten litter box training tops the list for frequently asked questions from new kitten owners. Planning ahead can save cat lovers lots of heartache by preventing litter box problems before they happen.

Cats are very smart. They usually teach US rather than the other way around. Here’s how to trick train your tabby.

Whenever new kittens come to your home, it’s important to figure out what they know, plus help them learn the new rules of the house. When you have other cats (after proper cat introductions, of course!) the older felines can help teach the youngsters the rules. How to train cats to the litter box usually comes naturally, but these tips can help with potty training your cat.

potty train cats

How to Potty Train Cats with Kitten Litter Box Training

Congratulations on your new kitten adoption! Most cats come pre-programmed to use the potty but you’ll need help if the baby is very young. Felines are great imitators and simply “copy cat” their mother’s behavior when they watch and follow her to the litter box. Most kittens and cats will already know what a litter box is for and how to use it by the time you adopt them.

But if you hand-raise an orphan or adopt a kitten younger than 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll need to do the job of the mother cat. Transitioning outdoor cats to an indoor lifestyle also may mean re-training bathroom etiquette from “going” among the flowers to aiming for the litter box. Check out the Ask Amy video below, and you’ll find more of the basics here.

Kitten Litter Box Training Preparation

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Felines are naturally clean creatures and dislike eliminating where they sleep or eat. They also appreciate privacy when (ahem) doing their duty. Build allegiance to the litter box by positioning it correctly, in a low-traffic area away from the cat’s bed and food bowls. Also remember that kittens may not have the physical capacity to “hold it” long enough to run clear across the house or down the stairs. Provide a box on each end of the house, or one per floor.

SIZE MATTERS. A regular size box may be too large for new kittens to climb in and out. A disposable cookie sheet works until he’s bigger. Average size adult cats do well with standard commercial litter pans, but jumbo-size cats (Maine Coon kitties come to mind!) may need larger toilets or risk hanging over the sides when they pose. Translucent plastic storage bins with a cat-size hole cut in one side may be ideal.

FILLER ‘ER UP WITH…WHAT? A variety of cat box fillers are available, from plain clay to pine pellets and recycled wheat or corn crumbles. The ideal material absorbs moisture, contains waste and odor, and most important of all, suits the cat. Fine textures such as the “clumping” clay litters seem to be the feline favorite. Fill the box an inch or so deep with the filler. Learn about the history of litter here.

If you’re transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor box, do a bit of research and follow him to find out his preferred substrate. Changing litter too fast can prompt hit or miss potty behavior. Dusting a bit of plain garden dirt, or a layer of grass or leaves over top of the commercial litter may help give him the idea of what you have in mind. Give your cat what he wants and kitten litter box training will be a breeze! And if you already have other pets, you may want to invest in a pet gate or pet door to control the space in your house.

itter box training

Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats

Get all the MUST KNOWS for your new kitten in the book!

Kittens and cats new to your home won’t know where the box is, even if they know what it’s for. Place the kitty on top of the clean litter and scratch around with your fingers to prompt imitation. Even if the cat doesn’t need to “go,” a pristine box often tempts them to dig a bit, which may lead to the first deposit.

When he’s creative in the box, reward your cat with verbal praise, a toy, or even a tasty treat reserved only for training. Don’t pick your new kitty up out of the box. Let him make his own way out of the box and the room, so he’ll better remember how to get back there the next time nature calls.

For tiny kittens, leave one recent deposit in the box after he’s been productive. The scent is a reminder of where the box is, and what he’s supposed to do once he’s there. But remember to keep the box clean or the cat will avoid the dirty toilet and find a better spot—such as under your bed.

Remember, very young kittens won’t have the capacity to “hold it” for very long. Refer to this post on kitten development stages for more information. Remember that spaying or neutering your baby cat greatly reduces the chance they’ll spray urine in the future.

Create a Cat Potty Training Schedule

Until you’re sure the kitty consistently uses the box, make a point of scheduling potty times. Kittens need to eliminate more frequently than adults do. Take the baby for a pit stop after each nap, meal, and play period. Playtime is fun for kittens–and you! Learn more about how pets play here.

Teaching basic bathroom allegiance from the beginning ensures your kitten gets off on the right paw—and saves your carpet. You’ll find even more of kitten “must knows” in the book Complete Kitten Care.  Have you ever had problems training kittens to “go” in the right spot? How did you manage?

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 Old Cats: What Is Old?

Every year, I write about our old cat needs. While Karma-Kat has just reached middle age, cats age at different rates. When do you consider your cat old? Is your old cat a senior kitty by age 8, or 13, or…when? For cats, what is old? Here are 8 reasons to consider adopting a senior citizen pet.

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. I have to admit, there’s something special about old cats. This post first appeared in 2012, and has been updated several times. Now that Seren-Kitty has gone to Rainbow Bridge, this post is in Seren’s honor and for all the golden oldie senior cats that rule our hearts (whether here or waiting for us at the Bridge.)

SerenChair

SEREN & OLD CATS

Seren went to the Bridge in December 2017, and would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on February 1st. I wanted to celebrate old cats and talk a bit about what is old age for cats. Some cats age more gracefully than others, and despite her longtime senior status, Seren continued to act like a youngster and keep Magical-Dawg and Karma-Kat in line, up nearly to the last week of her life.

Siamese as a breed tend to be longer lived, and it’s not unusual for healthy cats to live into their late teens or even early twenties. Of course, Seren was a found kitten, and we’re not sure what her heritage was, but she continued to maintain clean teeth, good appetite, normal litter-ary habits, sound heart and no lumps or bumps. After her bout with the schneezles, and losing one canine (fang) tooth, she continued rockin’ and rollin’ like nothing could stop her. I thought she’d live forever. *sigh* If you have a senior kitty, here are some tips for helping to keep old pets comfortable during their golden years.

Anyway, I thought this was a good time to share a bit from the book COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT.

old cats

WHAT IS OLD FOR SENIOR CATS?

What is considered “old” for a cat? The question of what is old is complicated by the impact of genetics, environment, and individual characteristics. Consider human beings: one person may act, look and feel “old” at 65 while another 65-year-old remains an active athlete with a youthful attitude and appearance. The same is true for our cats.

“I think that actually varies a lot, and it’s getting older every year,” says Rhonda Schulman, DVM, an internist at the University of Illinois. “It used to be that eight was the major cutoff for the cat that was geriatric. Now we’re moving to the point that’s a prolonged middle age.” According to Guinness World Records, the oldest cat on record was Creme Puff owned by Jake Perry of Austin, Texas. Cream Puff was born August 3, 1967 and died August 6, 2005 at the age of 38 years and 3 days.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of their lifespan, says Sarah K. Abood, DVM a clinical nutritionist at Michigan State University. However, since we can’t predict what an individual cat’s lifespan will be, the beginning of old age is a bit arbitrary. Certain families of cats may be longer lived than others, in the same way that some human families enjoy a much greater longevity than others. The lifespan of your cat’s parents and grandparents is a good predictor of how long you can expect your cat to live. People who share their lives with pedigreed cats may be able to access this information through the cat’s breeder.

SerenBed

PREDICTING LONGEVITY IN OLD CATS

Longevity of unknown heritage cats is much more difficult to predict. Even when felines are “part” Siamese or Persian, for example, these felines may inherit the very worst, or the very best, from the parents. The majority of pet cats are domestic shorthair or domestic longhair kitties of mixed ancestry, and the products of unplanned breeding. That by itself points to a poorer-than-average level of health for the parents, which in turn would be passed on to the kittens. Siblings within the same litter may have different fathers, and can vary greatly in looks, behavior, and health. When all is said and done, one should expect the random-bred cat-next-door kitty to be neither more nor less healthy than their pedigreed ancestors—as long as they all receive the same level of care and attention.

“If you get a kitten, it is very likely you will have this cat for the next 15 to 20 years,” says Dr. Abood. That means the last 25 percent would be 12 to 15 years. To simplify matters, most veterinarians consider cats to be “senior citizens” starting at about seven to eight years old, and geriatric at 14 to 15.

Here’s some perspective comparing cat age to human age. “The World Health Organization says that middle-aged folks are 45 to 59 years of age and elderly is 60 to 74. They considered aged as being over 75,” says Debbie Davenport, DVM, an internist with Hill’s Pet Foods. “If you look at cats of seven years of age as being senior, a parallel in human years would be about 51 years,” she says. A geriatric cat at 10 to 12 years of age would be equivalent to a 70-year-old human.

CHERISHING OLD SENIOR CATS

Veterinarians used to concentrate their efforts on caring for young animals. When pets began to develop age-related problems, the tendency among American owners was to just get another pet. That has changed, and today people cherish their aged furry companions and want to help them live as long as possible. Now there are many things you can do for common cat aging conditions.

Modern cats age seven and older can still live full, happy and healthy lives. Age is not a disease. Age is just age, says Sheila McCullough, DVM, an internist at University of Illinois. “There are a lot of things that come with age that can be managed successfully, or the progression delayed. Renal failure cats are classic examples.” It’s not unusual for cats suffering kidney failure to be diagnosed in their late teens or even early twenties.

“I had a woman with a 23-year-old cat who asked should she change the diet. I said, don’t mess with success!” says Dr. McCullough. These days veterinarians often see still-healthy and vital cats of a great age.

“I think if the cat lives to 25 years, I shouldn’t be doing anything but saying hello,” says Steven L. Marks, BVSc, an internist and surgeon at Louisiana State University (now at North Carolina State University). “If you’ve ever had a pet live that long, you want them all to live that long.”

 Excerpt from COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT, revised and updated Kindle Edition by Amy D. Shojai, CABC. 

seren-karma

DO YOU HAVE OLD CATS?

What about your senior cats? Does he or she act like a senior? What age did you notice a change, if any?

Seren’s aging changes meant her dark Siamese mask turned gray, with white hairs surrounding her eyes. Arthritis made it hard for her to leap as before. Her claws thickened so she could no longer retract them, and she “clicked” while she walked on hard surfaces–I kept them trimmed for her. In her last four months, she needed extra potty spots as she couldn’t quite anticipate getting to the right place on time. But I’ll forever be grateful for the nearly 22 years we shared together.

What about your furry wonders? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

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!

You Wrote WHAT? Why I Write What I Write

Magic-Seren-BooksSome of y’all know that my *virtual HIDE AND SEEK book tour* ran during June and July, and I had a wonderful time visiting various blogs and sharing about my writer-ly journey. All the links to various blogs can be found on my website here.Fire

But now I’ve been tagged for another virtual tour, a way for my Sweet Peeps to find out about other paw-some writers and their work. My author-friend, Angie Baily, invited me to join The Writing Process Blog Tour. Be sure to check out Angie’s blog and find out all about her works-in-progress. If you love quirky humor and love cats, you’ll find a treasure there!

The Writing Process Blog Tour is a way for bloggers to share their own writing process and current projects with readers, as well as introduce them to a couple of fabulous authors they might not be reading … which they should. I’m supposed to answer these four questions–so hang on tight, and I’ll try to be concise.

*snicker* Yeah, THAT’s gonna happen!

What am I working on?

Wow, probably too many projects to list. Here’s the short list at the top of my to-do’s:

  1. I’m awaiting the return of final edits on my next nonfiction book COMPLETE PUPPY CARPuppyCareCoverE, due to release later this month. This book will be the companion title to mirror my best selling COMPLETE KITTEN CARE book. Hey, I have to give equal time to the fur-kids!
  2. Writing the next book in my suspense/thriller series, titled SHOW AND TELL. The books feature an animal behaviorist, September Day. She lives with a trained Maine Coon cat and suffers from PTSD which is helped by her German Shepherd service dog named Shadow. Shadow is a favorite character because he has his own viewpoint chapters, character arc and storyline (but no, he DOESN’T talk).
  3. Strays Logo2-LoRezPreparing for the debut of STRAYS, THE MUSICAL, a full-length play co-written with Frank Steele. We’ve got a workshop scheduled to teach folks some of the music and introduce to the script, auditions scheduled, and performance taking place November 6-7-8, 2014. This show is very close to my heart, as it incorporates my love of cats and dogs with music and theater (all characters are cats or dogs). You can expect some blog posts in the future detailing this STRAYS journey!
  4. In the planning stages for a writers’ guide “how-I-did-it” short book, hopefully this fall, to provide a one stop place to answer many of the writing and publishing questions I receive. It will be based on the several conference talks and webinars I offer.
  5. SUPER-SECRET-SOON-TO-BE-REVEALED PROJECTS that I can’t yet announce, but will be PAW-some for cats, dogs and pet parents. Yes, it has to do with great health and behavior information, and some opportunities for bloggers to get involved, too. Stay tuned!

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Some of my work is very similar to my colleague’s, in that I strive to provide great actionable information that helps pet parents and the cats and dogs they love. It differs in that many of the venues or platforms are outside the box, and that I try not to limit myself to one avenue to reach my audience.

For years I wrote very prescriptive nonfiction books and articles–and I still love sharing that information. But now I work to “edu-tain” readers who perhaps aren’t specifically looking for pet care advice or information. Reading a book told through “dog voice” opens a window into how and why dogs behave certain ways. Watching a play in which cats and dogs offer insight into their world and it’s all from their purr-spective may offer some ah-ha moments for pet parents. Using a variety of publishing platforms, from the Internet and blogs to Ebooks, traditional print and even audio books or songs, increases the chance more folks will benefit from the work.

Why do you write what you do?

I was put on this earth to be a voice for the voiceless–I truly believe that. Writing about cats and dogs gives me great pleasure, and it’s fun! How neat to wake up every morning excited to go to work and–basically–play with cats and dogs for a living. I am truly blessed!

How does your writing process work?

Hmnn. Often, I get ideas from readers asking questions, or from news stories that make me go “wow…what if?” Typically I work 6-7 days a week, although I try to take at least half a day off on Sunday. My world would go off the tracks without to-do lists. I love putting together lists, and crossing off each item once completed! My calendars (several, both paper and online) are highlighted and color coded to keep track of various projects, and often look like a peacock exploded.

For book-length projects, I do my best to meet a daily word count, and calendar progress toward the deadline. Otherwise, with so many things to juggle, something’s liable to go SPLAT when it’s dropped. Once a book-length draft is finished, I work on a different project for a time and come back to edits with fresh eyes. Books generally go through several rewrites and drafts before going to beta readers and later to my editor, so it’s an involved process. Shorter work like articles can be turned around much more quickly. Blogs (like this one) often are written in one sitting.

Now it’s time to tag two more wonderful writer friends. Please head on over to their blogs/websites and check out their work. I promise, you’ll be glad you did!

JaneA Kelly is a contributing author to Caster.com and is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy.

Carol Shenold has been a nurse for forty years, and a writer/artist almost as long. She writes the Tali Cates mysteries, as well as urban fantasies with weirdly wonderful characters (“The Monster under the bed…is real!”), and nursing textbooks. She also writes nonfiction in general interest, technical magazines, newspaper columns and more. You can find Carol at her website and her blog–when she’s not busy painting pictures of her cat or dogs or grandkids.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

 

Valentines Goes To The Pets & Book Signing!

BookPosterHave you chosen a Valentine’s gift yet for your significant other? Will the gift make ’em PURR with pleasure, or HOWL with hate? Recent surveys show that if you want to please the two-legged love of your life, you should pick a present with pets in mind. (say THAT fast three times, LOL!).

For those of you in the North Texas area, please stop by my VALENTINES & PETS talk this Saturday from 1-3:30 at the Sherman Town Center’s Petco. I’ll have EIGHT different titles available including both of my dog viewpoint thrillers. I’d love to paw-tograph a book to the special pets (and pet loving humans) in your life. Bring your questions, too, and learn about all the fun, sweet, crazy and aggravating ways cats and dogs show love.

FourPetBooksSurveys have shown that 21 percent of adults would rather spend February 14 with their pet than their spouse. After all, the cat cuddles on your lap while watching your fav TV show and never demands the remote control, and the dog actually LIKES you to leave dirty socks on the floor! One poll from the American Kennel Club (AKC) revealed that 90 percent of women wish their boyfriend or husband was more like their dog, and men wished the ladies would be in a good mood more often like the dog.

Dating experts agree that a puppy is a powerful “babe magnet.” And guys, if you REALLY want to turn on the romance, admit that you love cats–it takes a real macho secure guy to appreciate (and admit) to feline fascination.

ThreeCatBooks

Even better, if your human love shares his/her pillow or lap with a pet friend, Get A GIFT FOR THE PET! I’m no relationship expert for two-leggers, but can tell you gifting your girlfriend’s cat may stem any green-eyed-fur-monsters that have got between you and your Valentine’s plans.

What about the pets? Of course we know they love us–but the ways they show love probably surprise you. They demonstrate love with purrs and play, and even pee and poop. Understanding what they say and knowing how to fix problems goes a long way toward creating a house ‘o love.

Lost_Found-Shojai-lorezFire

Even my thrillers LOST AND FOUND and HIDE AND SEEK explore the deep, abiding bond we share with our pets. You can of course get any of these books by ordering directly from Amazon or asking local bookstores to get them for you. Sadly, the realities of publishing mean these books won’t be on bookstore shelves, another reason I’m delighted to make them available to y’all this weekend February 8.

Oh, and maybe you and the love of your life are ready for a new furry friend–Stop by Petco in Sherman on Saturday to see me and check out the adoptable pets! My friend Lynette George will have kitties available and there may be puppy-licious options as well. Oh…and I’ll give you a discount on the book of your choice at the signing for anyone who adopts a pet that day.

I’d say everyone could be a winner on Saturday, especially the pets needing new homes. Please tell all your pet-loving friends about the event–and share this blog so if folks can’t come they might still get furry ideas for Valentines. Hope to see you Saturay!

PS: NOSE-TO-NOSE AWARDS!

By the way, if you want to show some Valentine Love to this blog *s* you can nominate BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD for a BLOGPAWS NOSE TO NOSE AWARD. I’ll get details posted in another post here (the deadline to nominate is Feb 12…so dang, I better get my furry tail in gear!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!