May 29, 2008
There are a number of reasons many dog owners think that heartworm infection spells death for their pets. It takes long before the presence of these parasites in your dog can be detected, and usually by that time, the infestation is already serious. Heartworm infestation can bring about several life-threatening symptoms, which includes loss of appetite, coughing, fever, and hemorrhage.
What makes heartworms even more formidable is the fact that treating them has considerable risks. There’s always the danger of embolism, which occurs when dead heartworms block the blood flow to the lungs. More often than not, dogs infected with heartworms become too weak for conventional veterinary treatments. As such, there’s always the risk of death for dogs who undergo them.
For this reason, it is no longer surprising why many dog owners are looking for alternative options for treating their heartworm-infested pets. Apart from the fact that heartworm treatments are risky, they can also be quite costly. This is where home remedies for heartworm in dogs come in. Unlike most conventional medical procedures, home remedies for heartworm are natural, readily available and cheap.
However, home remedies for heartworm are not what they are cranked up to be. The following are some of the well-propagated myths about them:
Myth #1: Feeding your dog garlic will get rid of heartworms.
The Truth: While garlic may be effective against other pests that plague your dog, the same isn’t true with heartworms. As opposed to what most people think, garlic can do very little to eliminate these pests in your pet. What it can do, however, is to repel mosquitoes that might be carrying heartworms with them. Its pungent taste and smell is guaranteed to ward off those flying insects. So, in essence, garlic may be able to help you prevent heartworms but not get rid of them.
Garlic also has a catch: it is poisonous. If taken in huge amounts, garlic can be toxic for dogs. In addition, not all dogs can benefit from it. Garlic contains N-propyldisulfhide and S-methyl cysteine sulfoxide, two things that are not suitable for anemic dogs.
Myth #2: Black walnut is an excellent deworming agent.
The Truth: While it is well-known that black walnut is used against parasites, there is no consensus over its effectiveness against heartworms. As a matter of fact, it is believed that black walnut is too toxic for use on pets. This is because it contains tannins and alkaloids that may bring about vomiting and diarrhea. As such, black walnut should not be administered to pets without veterinary supervision.
Myth #3: Wormwood is safe for treating heartworms in dogs.
The Truth: Like black walnut, wormwood is yet another natural dewormer that isn’t entirely safe for pets. Dogs who suffer from kidney problems, liver diseases and seizures should not be given wormwood. Wormwood contains absinthe, an ingredient that is believed to be addictive and highly toxic. According to FDA, long-term and high-dosage use of wormwood in humans can cause insomnia, vertigo, seizures, nausea, vomiting, and even brain damage. If it’s not even safe for humans, how can it be safe for dogs?
These are just some of the myths about home remedies for heartworms in dogs. The bottomline is that alternative home remedies, although natural, are not always safe. They don’t even guarantee positive results all the time, so they should never be considered as a substitute for conventional veterinary medical approach. Keep in mind that heartworm is a potentially fatal disease if not treated properly. Would you really entrust your pet’s life on these home remedies?
May 23, 2008
Do you have any plans of traveling with your dog soon? If you do, then you should know that dogs can acquire certain diseases when they travel with you. One of the most common diseases that can infect them is Heartworm Disease, a harmful, even fatal condition affecting the heart and lungs of dogs.
Canine heartworm infection occurs when a mosquito, carrying heartworm larvae, bites a dog. Thousands of dogs suffer from it each year according to several reports.
Geographically, heartworms are a potential threat worldwide. They can cause infection in every US state except Alaska, and in many other countries. A survey in 2004 says that the biggest number of canine heartworm disease cases were seen in the southeastern U.S. and the Mississippi River Valley. This means that dogs living in or within these areas have greater risks of getting the disease; but this does not necessarily mean that areas outside these perimeters are heartworm-free. With more people traveling with their pets across the country, either to take a vacation or to visit family, relatives and friends, there is no assurance that a dog is safe from heartworm infection.
The Risk of Traveling
"Heartworm disease spreads as more dogs travel from state to state," banners the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on its website. AVMA explains that the problem arises when a dog from a heartworm-endemic state travels with his owner to a low-incidence state. Because the signs of heartworm disease are only detected in the later stages, the owner travels without knowing that his dog is infected and has a tendency to spread the disease to a local dog - a mosquito bite is all it takes to transmit the disease to another! The local dog then becomes a carrier of the disease and the cycle continues. In the same way, if a dog from a low-incidence state travels to a state where the incidence of the disease is very prevalent and gets bitten by a larvae-carrying mosquito, then it also presents a problem. It brings the disease back home and spreads this to other dogs.
5 Pointers for Prevention
Knowing the threat of heartworm disease, all dog owners should therefore be responsible to care for their pets’ health. When traveling, an owner can help protect his or her dog from heartworm disease through 5 ways:
- Have the pet checked by a licensed veterinarian. The vet will check for presence of diseases, including heartworm disease. If the dog is found to be healthy and heartworm-free, the vet can recommend preventive measures - prevention is always the best way to protect a dog at home and during travels.
- Get an up-to-date health certificate from the vet as this is required by most states for people traveling with their pets.
- Revisit the vet upon coming home from a trip. The pet should be examined again for any sign/symptom of possible infection of parasites such as ticks, fleas, and etc.
- Very important: Regardless whether a pet is traveling or not, protect it by using medications such as Heartgard and Revolution, which both prevent and control heartworm infection.
- It is always good to have the pet regularly tested for heartworm to ensure proper prevention.
Once you have done the preventive measures cited above, you will feel pretty much confident to travel because you are assured that your pet is protected from heartworm disease.
Pack your bags and fill up your car’s tank full. Are you now ready to travel with your pet the heartworm-free way? Can you suggest other ways for heartworm disease prevention while you make that ultimate trip with your favorite pet?
If you are a responsible dog owner, then caring for your dog’s heart should be one of your top priorities. This means keeping it healthy and safe from all kinds of diseases, including heartworms, spaghetti-like worms that can affect a dog’s heart. Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms pose serious health risks to thousands of dogs throughout the world each year.
Heartworm disease blocks the heart’s ability to pump out blood, leading to health complications and even resulting to death, if left untreated. Treatment is possible with proper medications and veterinary support-but why do you have to wait for infection when you can help prevent the disease?
According to a brochure by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), heartworm disease is almost 100% preventable in dogs. This is good news for dog owners as they can spare their pets the pain of infection and the risk of undergoing treatment.
Prevention of heartworm disease is easier, safer and more economical as opposed to treatment. It is also the best way to show that you care for your pet’s heart. Prevention should have the following components: regular/annual blood test, preventive medications and a clean, mosquito-free environment.
Get Regular/Annual Blood Test
A blood test is crucial before beginning a prevention program. It checks whether the pet has existing heartworm infection or not. The veterinarian administers this test; he or she can advise the best prevention method based on your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors.
For monitoring, it is recommended that you visit the vet for annual re-testing to ensure that the appropriate medication is being given.
Administer Preventive Medications
Heartworm preventives are effective if administered properly to the pet. You can avail of a variety of medications, among which include monthly tablets, chewables and topicals. Leading brands are Heartgard tablets and Revolution topical application. Heartgard and Revolution contain Ivermectin and Selamectin respectively-these are chemicals that effectively kill heartworms. Meanwhile, generic heartwormers such as NuHeart are cheaper alternatives to the branded ones.
The American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommends year-round prevention. In a 2006 article, former AHS President Dr. Charles Thomas Nelson explains: "By giving preventives year round, there is a better chance that a missed dose will not lead to a heartworm infection."
In addition, since most of heartworm medications also prevent other parasites like fleas, ticks, roundworms, hookworms, and the like, year-round administration defends your dog and the whole family against these parasites.
Keep a Clean, Mosquito-Free Environment
A good way to reduce the risk of heartworm infection is to maintain a clean environment. A well-sanitized home is less inviting to mosquitoes, which may be potential carriers of the disease. Remember to clean the yard or garden as well. Regularly use outdoor insecticides and keep things dry as mosquitoes most often breed in stagnant water.
Also, keep mosquitoes out of the house. You can do this by keeping the windows shut during hot weather because mosquitoes thrive most during this season. Having tight-fitting windows and door screens can help. If you find a tear in your window screen, fix it right away, as even the smallest hole makes it easy for mosquitoes to enter.
As much as possible, keep your dog indoor at all times, especially in the late afternoons and early evenings because mosquitoes are most active and in search of food at these times.
Heartworm prevention in dogs is attainable when done correctly and early. Remember that you need not wait for your dog to acquire the infection before you act on it. As long as you know the proper preventive measures and implement them right away, you can certainly protect your dog from heartworm disease. Show your pet how much you care, why don’t you start your own prevention now?
May 12, 2008
Little devils on eight legs-that’s what fleas are. These pests don’t only look the part but they act the part as well. They are ugly, disgusting and just downright nasty. So is it any wonder why you want to get rid of them?
Thankfully, getting rid of fleas is now easier than ever. Gone are the days when you still have to manually remove fleas off your pet one by one. These days, if you want to kill these pests, all you have to do is to choose from a wide range of flea treatments that you can find in the market. One example is the flea trap.
What are flea traps?
Flea traps are no different from any other kind of traps for pests. They work by luring the target first then capturing it. Like moths drawn to a flame, fleas are attracted to heat and light. As such, most flea traps utilize these two elements to capture your pet’s number one nemesis.
What are the different types of flea traps?
Flea traps are like shoes, they come in different sizes and styles. Here are just some of the most common types:
Sticky pads - are like fly paper: they trap fleas through an adhesive surface. Some sticky pads come with heat emitters, which help attract fleas better.
Electronic flea traps - claim that they can trap 400% more fleas than other flea traps. While effective, these modern flea catchers typically cost a lot more than the ordinary ones.
Improvised flea traps - are the cheapest of the bunch. You can even make one in your home using a gooseneck lamp and a basin of water mixed with detergent. Simply put the basin under the lamp and watch as fleas get trapped in it.
Do flea traps work?
Yes, flea traps work, no doubt about it. The real question is how effective they are. If you’re talking about a mild infestation, then the answer is pretty effective. The same goes if you aim to trap fleas that take up residence in your home.
However, if you’re thinking of capturing fleas on a large scale, then flea traps won’t do the work for you. In fact, they will do very little to reduce the population of fleas on your pet and in your home. More often than not, active infestation requires better flea treatment. While flea traps serve their purpose quite well, they’re not enough to put a complete stop to the havoc fleas wreak. As such, you might want to consider using other kinds of flea treatments alongside flea traps.
The Final Word on Flea Traps
But even though flea traps are no good when it comes to getting rid of fleas on a large scale, they are not completely useless. Now that flea season is here, flea traps can serve as warning devices for you. If you suspect your furry friend to be infested with fleas, you can place flea traps in areas where your pet often hangs out to confirm your hunch. After an overnight stint, check the traps for caught fleas and if you find some, then it’s time to launch a full-force attack on these eight-legged monsters using the best flea treatments there are in the market. After all, you don’t want these pests to linger for a long time, do you?
May 6, 2008
Do you have a problem with fleas? If you do, then it is most likely you only used flea treatment on your cat or dog. But do you know that getting rid of fleas on your pet alone does not solve the whole flea problem? Experts say that majority of the fleas may be living in or around the house. That is why it is very crucial that you get rid of fleas in all areas of your home.
As a responsible pet owner, you must do all you can to keep your pets free from fleas. A good way to do this is to launch a war against fleas. It involves your 100 % commitment. You should allot a few hours of your time to get into the war zone and start killing fleas.
The following are three easy steps to make your homes flea-free:
Step 1: Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!
First thing to do in the battle against fleas is to clean up the entire house. Vacuum the surroundings, paying a lot of attention to the areas most frequented by pets such as pet beddings or sleeping areas, carpet, and floorboard area. Vacuum also shaded places like corners, under furniture, cracks on the floor and dark crevices which are potential spots where flea eggs and larvae may thrive.
According to estimates, vacuuming can remove as much as 50% of the flea eggs. It can also remove newly hatched fleas even before they jump on your pets! Just don’t forget to throw out the vacuum bag right away after each vacuuming to make sure that the fleas don’t come crawling back.
Step 2: Wash Carpets and Use Spray Insecticides
Vacuuming does not totally remove all fleas on carpets because flea larvae wrap themselves tightly around carpet fibers. To sanitize carpets then, you need to wash and soak them in hot soapy water or steam clean them. Fleas are heat-sensitive and subjecting them to hot treatment will kill them.
Carpets, rugs, floors and similar surfaces should also be treated with spray insecticides to guarantee flea control.
Step 3: Manage Your Pets
To intensify your battle against fleas, the third step is to apply flea treatments on your pet. Using top-of-the-line spot on products such as Frontline Plus and Advantage, which are applied directly on the skin surface, can kill and prevent fleas from coming back. Giving flea control pills or tablets such as Capstar and Program can also treat flea infestation. Your veterinarian can recommend the right flea treatment for your pet.
The three steps mentioned above are necessary for house flea control treatment. However, like any flea control program, it would not work unless it is done with consistency. Regular maintenance of the home and proper care of your pet are essential for long-lasting effect.
Have you had any similar battle against fleas in your own homes? If you have, what did you do to fight them off?
I was browsing through pet-related sites when something caught my attention: "Can fleas live on human hair?" Several websites and forums say they can. A few say they can’t. What do you think?
As we tackle this question, it is perhaps good to begin with what fleas are. Fleas are insects that feed on the blood of a host. Normally, they live on dogs and cats. They stay there sucking blood out of our pets until such time that they hop on another animal. As they hop, they can stay in various debris in our environment such as pet’s beddings, sleeping areas, tiny particles of dirt, fibers from carpets, rugs and furniture, etc.
Humans can get fleas when they make contact with their flea-infested pets. They can also get them from pet’s beddings and furniture where fleas thrive. Fleas will grab any opportunity to suck blood from a potential host. They will hop on humans and bite but they will not live there for a long time. Most often, they will bite ankles, lower legs and lower arms.
It is possible that fleas may get on human hair when the person makes contact with his or her flea-infested pet. In very rare cases, fleas may bite on the scalp but they will not stay for long. As long as the person makes every possible effort to get rid of the fleas such as washing his or her hair, eliminating fleas off from clothing, frequent vacuuming of the house, and regular bathing and applying of flea control products on the pet, he or she can be flea-free.
Imagine waking up one morning and discovering your darling pet has fleas! These small, reddish brown, wingless, blood-sucking insects make you panic. As a caring pet owner, you are aware that fleas are harmful. You want to stop them from infesting your pet. You are about to kill them by means of flea control methods.
But before beginning any flea control program, it helps to know about the life cycle of a flea. This information gives you a baseline of when the best time is to apply treatment.
Like mosquitoes, fleas undergo four stages: egg, larval, pupal and adult. Here is a picture of the events that happen in each stage.
1. Egg Stage
- It is the first stage of the life cycle, which begins when a female adult flea produces 20 flea eggs at a time, for a total of 500 eggs during its lifetime.
- The flea eggs are smooth, oval, pearly white, and tiny, but still visible to the naked eye.
- They represent approximately 50% of the total flea population at any given time.
- The eggs are deposited in areas frequented by pets such as bedding or sleeping area, dog houses, carpet, furniture, floorboard area, and in the yard. Regular cleaning and sanitation of these areas can help kill fleas.
2. Larval Stage
- The larvae emerge from the egg through a special "egg-buster" spine on the head. At any given time, they comprise for approximately 35% of the flea population.
- Physically, the larvae are legless, white and maggot-like in appearance, and very small.
- The larvae molt for a period of 6-36 days, which may vary depending on temperature and humidity, before entering the next stage of the life cycle. They are very susceptible to humidity, with low humidity being detrimental to the larvae.
- They mainly feed on adult flea excrement, often called "flea dirt," which is actually dried blood from its host. They also feed on other organic debris such as dried bits of skin and dead mites.
- Larvae avoid light, which makes them more likely to stay in dark and shaded places like cracks in the floor, under the furniture, etc.
- Like flea eggs, they are also found in the pet’s favorite resting areas.
3. Pupal Stage
- This is the third stage of the life cycle, where the flea larvae spin silk cocoons around themselves from one week to one year, before turning into adult fleas.
- The flea larvae can stay in the cocoon for a few days or for a year or more, waiting for the right time to emerge as adult fleas.
- Pupal cocoons account for 10% of the flea population.
- Warm temperature and humid weather can speed up the maturation process in the cocoon.
- During this stage, the flea larvae are very resistant to chemical insecticides and other flea control methods.
4. Adult Stage
- This is the final stage in flea development where the flea emerges from the cocoon and looks for a host (dog, cat or human) to feed on.
- Studies indicate that adult fleas account for only 5% of the total flea population at any given time so it is good to control infestation during this stage.
- The adult flea jumps on the host and holds on to it with its three pairs of legs, the hindmost part used for jumping. It has hair-like bristles on its body and legs, which helps it navigate through the pet’s hair.
- The adult flea cuts a hole and inserts its feeding tube into the pet, sucking blood out of it.
- The flea lays its eggs and the flea life cycle starts all over again.
Zoom back to reality. While attending to your pet, you find out that there really are some fleas hiding underneath its hair. Thankfully, you are no longer terrified. Now that you know about the flea life cycle, it can help you determine when flea control is most effective in each phase of flea development. If you were in this situation, which stage (or stages) do you think is the best time for flea control?