Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease (HWD) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs and cats that is spread by over 30 species of mosquitoes. Adult heartworms live in the heart and lung blood vessels of infected animals; one pet can have up to 300 worms! Heartworms live for up to 5-7 years and produce millions of offspring that live in the bloodstream until they develop.

Heartworm disease occurs all over the world, but has been increasing in prevalence in the United States, and spreading further and further across the country. New England has been seeing a significant increase in heartworm disease in the past 3-5 years. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, there were 674 reported cases in New Hampshire alone in 2018.

Signs

The signs of HWD depend on a number of variables, but are typically due to heartworms clogging the heart and major blood vessels. Signs can include:

  • A soft, dry cough.
  • Shortness of breath, exercise intolerance.
  • Weakness, listlessness, loss of stamina, collapse.
  • RARELY – swelling of the legs and belly, weight loss, and some animals may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of HWD is done by a blood test that can be run in the veterinary hospital. Following diagnosis, further testing is recommended (such as bloodwork and x-rays) to determine if the dog can tolerate the appropriate treatment.

Treatment

In dogs, treatment of HWD is complex, expensive, and can be painful – it involves antibiotics (Doxycycline), an injectable arsenic-based compound to kill adult worms, and steroids to help decrease the inflammatory response when the worms begin to die. Strict rest for several months is incredibly important, as exercise and excitement can lead to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening clots. As long as the disease is not significantly advanced, this disease is treatable. However, in more advanced cases, prognosis can be poor due to substantial damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys and liver. Unfortunately, there is no current treatment for cats.

Prevention

Prevention is so important when it comes to heartworm disease, for both dogs and cats. Preventing the disease prevents damage to the heart and lungs, and avoids a painful and expensive treatment process, as well as strict activity restriction. By preventing this disease, you and your pet can enjoy a life of play and adventure without restriction!

Here are a couple of excellent options for preventing heartworm disease that we recommend here at Hampton Veterinary Hospital:

  1. Interceptor PLUS for dogs – a chewable tablet given monthly, year-round.
  2. Proheart Injection for dogs – an injection given here at Hampton Vet, and lasts 6 months.
  3. Revolution PLUS for cats – a monthly topical, applied year-round.

To learn more about heartworm disease, please visit The American Heartworm Society website.

Always remember, we are here to help! If you have any questions or concerns about your pet and heartworm disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Common Pet Toxins

Toxins are often not the first thing on your mind when bringing a pet into your home, but there are many more than you may expect!  It is important to know the common pet toxins that can be present so you can take special care to keep them out of your pet’s reach. If you believe your pet has ingested or come into contact with any of these toxins, or if you are unsure, please contact your veterinarian or nearest emergency clinic immediately! Accurate and timely identification of the suspected toxin is very important— TIP: have the container, package, or label in hand; this can save valuable time!

Common CANINE Toxins

  • Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine
  • Mouse and Rat Poisons (rodenticides)
  • Vitamins and Minerals (e.g. Vitamin D3, iron, etc.)
  • NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen/Advil, naproxen/Aleve, aspirin, etc.)
  • Cardiac Medications (e.g. Amlodipine/calcium-blockers, Atenolol/beta-blockers, Aspirin and other blood thinners, etc.)
  • Cold/Allergy Medications (e.g. Sudafed/pseudoephedrine/decongestants, phenylephrine)
  • Antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Lexipro, etc.)
  • Xylitol (e.g. gum, some peanut butters, etc).
  • Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)
  • Anti-freeze

Common FELINE Toxins

  • Topical spot-on insecticides (be cautious not to use canine products on kitties!)
  • Household Cleaners
  • Antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Lexipro, etc.)
  • Lilies (EXTREMELY TOXIC – can cause acute kidney failure with just a lick!)
  • NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen/Advil, naproxen/Aleve, aspirin, etc.)
  • Cold and Flu Medication (e.g. TYLENOL!)
  • ADD/ADHD Medications (e.g. Adderall, etc).
  • Mouse and Rat Poison (rodenticides)
  • Anti-freeze
  • String, yarn, sewing needles, (gift) ribbon, hair ties (foreign bodies)

Common FOOD Toxins (Primarily Dogs)

  • Chocolate, coffee
  • Macadamia nuts, walnuts
  • Grapes & raisins
  • Raw yeast bread dough
  • Brewing hops
  • Products containing xylitol (gum, some peanut butters, etc).
  • Onions, garlic (Dogs and Cats)

Don’t hesitate to ask us for a more complete, detailed list of common pet toxins. And remember, we are always here to help! Here is a list of important numbers you may need if your pet comes into contact with a toxin:

Hampton Veterinary Hospital (603) 926-7978

Port City Veterinary Referral Center (603) 433-0056

ASPCA Pet Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435

Increased Thirst and Urination in Cats

Increased thirst and urination are symptoms of a number of common diseases, especially in cats over 10 years of age.  The medical terms for these symptoms are polyuria (excessive urine production) and polydipsia (excessive thirst).

When a cat presents at Hampton Veterinary Hospital for increased thirst and urination, as always, one of our doctors will perform a thorough physical examination.   Regardless of the cause, many times our feline patients with increased thirst and urination will also present with any combination of the following non-specific symptoms or findings on examination:

  • Weight loss and muscle atrophy
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Change in energy level
  • Heart murmur

The most common diseases we see inolder cats that cause increased thirst and urination are:

These three diseases, as well as a number of less common causes, can easily be tested for by submitting blood and urine samples for a chemistry profile, complete blood count (CBC), thyroid level(s),and urinalysis.  If lab work rules-out these common medical conditions in older cats, then we typically proceed to taking x-rays and/or performing an ultrasound.

Aging, whether it be with ourselves or our four-legged loved ones, can be scary.  It is not uncommon for many people to avoid the doctor because they do not want to learn about medical issues that might shorten lives.  However, each of these diseases listed above can usually be treated to improve quality and length of life in our feline friends.  This is especially true if we screen for such issues and start treatment sooner rather than later.  So, please contact us should you be concerned about an increase in thirst and urination or any other medical issue your pet may be experiencing.