Treating Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Treating Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

  • Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that damages the heart, lungs, and related blood vessels.
  • Dogs and cats are at risk for becoming infected with heartworms.
  • Heartworm disease in dogs is treatable, but in some cases, treatment can be costly and complicated. There are no approved products for heartworm treatment in cats.
  • Heartworm disease is easily and effectively avoided through administration of preventive medications.


mosquito-iStock_000006931027-335lc032614Why Treat Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs, cats, and up to 30 other species of mammals. It is caused by parasitic worms living in the major vessels of the lungs and, occasionally, in the heart. The scientific name for the heartworm is Dirofilaria immitis.

Although heartworm disease is virtually 100% preventable, many dogs and cats are diagnosed with it each year. Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states. Because heartworms are transmitted (as microscopic larvae) through the bite of an infected mosquito, heartworm disease can occur anywhere there are mosquitoes. Even indoor cats are not safe from heartworm infection, as studies have shown that more than 25% of heartworm-infected cats live indoors. The American Heartworm Society (AHS) estimates that 1 million dogs in the United States are infected with the disease, and the incidence may be rising. Wherever dogs are infected, studies have shown that cats are likely to be infected, too.


Signs of Heartworm Disease

Initial signs of heartworm disease in dogs and cats can be subtle. When infected, both species may develop a chronic cough. In cats, the signs may mimic feline asthma. Some cats have also reportedly died suddenly without showing any prior clinical signs. Affected dogs may have lethargy (tiredness) and exercise intolerance (refusal to exercise or difficulty exercising). Many infected dogs and cats don’t show clinical signs, so testing may be the only way to identify pets with heartworm disease.



If infection is detected early enough, canine heartworm disease can be treated before permanent damage is done to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. However, if the infection has been present for a long time or consists of a large number of heartworms, the risk of complications can increase. In these cases, treatment can be more expensive and complicated, and dogs may need many months to recover from the infection as juvenile and adult worms are cleared from their systems. Hospitalization may be required.

The goal of treating heartworm disease in dogs is to remove all stages of the parasite (including adult, larvae, and an immature stage known as microfilariae) and improve the pet’s condition without causing treatment complications. First, your veterinarian will conduct a series of diagnostic tests to determine which stages of heartworms are present. During this time, your veterinarian will also perform tests to reveal how much damage (if any) has already been done to your dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels as a result of being infected. After administering treatment for heartworm disease, your veterinarian will likely recommend follow-up testing to ensure that the infection has resolved. Some dogs may need to be treated more than once to clear the infection.

If significant damage to a dog’s heart, lungs, and vessels has already occurred, permanent health issues may remain, even after the heartworm infection is successfully treated. Dogs exhibiting severe clinical signs may first need to be stabilized with steroids and other medications before administration of medication to kill heartworms. Additional medications may also play a helpful role in supporting dogs whose heart and lungs have sustained permanent damage from heartworm disease.

During treatment, unnecessary stress on an infected dog’s cardiopulmonary system (heart and lungs) should be avoided as the adult worms die. Depending on your dog’s condition, your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization. When your dog comes home, exercise restriction will likely be recommended for a period of time to avoid overly stressing the cardiopulmonary system. Your veterinarian can discuss additional recommendations for monitoring and caring for your dog during and after treatment of heartworm disease.


In cats, there is no approved medical treatment for heartworm disease. Your veterinarian can discuss with you how best to monitor your cat and manage the signs of disease. Antibiotics, steroids, and other medications are sometimes recommended. For cats with severe breathing problems or other complications, hospitalization may be needed. In some cases, surgical removal of adult worms may be attempted. However, this surgery is costly and has some risks.



The best “treatment” for dogs and particularly cats is prevention. Safe, easy-to-administer, effective medications are available to prevent heartworm disease in dogs and cats. Ask your veterinarian which medication is best for you and your pet. The American Heartworm Society  recommends year-round administration of heartworm preventive medications. Some heartworm preventive products have the added benefit of controlling other internal parasites of concern, such as roundworms and hookworms in dogs and cats as well as whipworms in dogs. Some products also target other external parasites, such as ticks and mites.

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Dog Training: Dealing with excessive barking

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 Dealing with excessive barking


Dogs bark for different reasons: There’s watchdog barking, request barking, “spooky” barking, and boredom barking. Though people find barking annoying, it isn’t annoying to dogs. Rather, it’s one of a variety of ways that dogs express themselves. To other dogs, each bark has a tone that communicates something specific and significant. Controlling excessive barking with training is more than possible. In fact, it can and should be fun. Here’s how to keep each type of barking to a minimum:

Watchdog barking. Many dogs consider it their job to warn you that someone dangerous is at the door. Rather than trying to take your dog’s job away, you can teach her to bark just once (with a cue like “bark” or “who’s there?”), and then leave it for something more fun. Practice by stationing a helper outside to knock on the door. After one bark comes out of the dog’s mouth, give another cue (like “enough” or “OK”), then get her involved in fetching a favorite toy, which you can keep near the door. If your dog does not enjoy retrieving, use food rewards. Here’s how to do it:

1 Give the cue: “Who’s there?”

2 Have the person knock on the door.

3 When the dog barks, give the next cue (“enough” or “OK”) and show the dog the toy or treat.

4 Start playing with the toy or give the dog the treat.

Repeat many times until the dog knows the game. The toy you pick should be used exclusively for practicing this behavior. Soon, the dog will bark with the cue “Who’s there?” (no knock needed) and she will stop on the cue “OK” and wait for you to play or offer a treat. If she starts to bark again after you use the “OK” cue, do not reward her. Practice this routine many times to reinforce the desired behavior. Real life situations, of course, are the real test. You might want to put a note on your door explaining that you will answer after a short delay.

If your dog starts barking the minute someone pulls into the driveway, use the same sequence as above, except have your helper drive up in a car (instead of knocking at the door).

Request barking. Dogs often bark when they are excited, perhaps anticipating a walk or meal. If your dog does too much of this request barking, do not reward her until after the barking has stopped. Ignore all barking as though you have lost your hearing. Then, when the dog has been quiet for a decent interval, give her what she wants — food or a walk. In so doing, you teach your dog that being quiet has its rewards. To reinforce this behavior, you can give her praise or something to chew on if she is lying down quietly.

“Spooky” barking. This type of barking is provoked by fear and it normally comes with some body language. To scare off the source of her fear, your dog may have her hair up and her tail between her legs. She may be very rigid and bounce on her front legs. Your dog may be fearful if she is under-socialized; the solution may be more positive exposure to the world. A dog training class can be a helpful way to introduce her to new people, places and sounds. Make socializing fun: New people can offer treats and trips to town can include treats for being brave. Remember not to reward your dog while she is barking; reward her only when she has relaxed. This strategy may take some time, but a happy, well-adjusted dog is a joy to be around.

Boredom barking. This kind of barking is common when dogs are not receiving enough interaction with their family. Because dogs are such social animals, it is stressful for them to be alone for long periods of time. If your dog is alone all day, she will need a significant amount of attention once you come home. To help relieve her boredom during the day, supply her with durable rubber and nylon toys to chew on, like Kongs and Nylabones. Also, consider bringing her to doggie daycare a few days a week or asking someone to come by your house during your work week to take her for walks.

Source: Best Friends Magazine

How to Handle a Territorial Dog

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

How to Handle a Territorial Dog


A Territorial Dog Bit My Cousin

Dear Cesar,

I would like to know how to properly handle a situation in which a territorial dog came after me when I was walking in my neighborhood. This situation arose yesterday when my cousin and I were walking. A dog who is usually confined behind a fence suddenly charged across the yard at us.

The territorial dog nipped my cousin on the back of her leg and then proceeded to circle around us. The owner was nowhere in sight. I knew from watching your show that I should remain calm and assertive, but my cousin was terrified. As the dog circled around us trying to get at my cousin, I kept turning to face the territorial dog and would periodically make the “shh” noise I’ve heard you make. I wanted to keep him in sight, but I thought I shouldn’t be making eye contact either. I just imagined a bubble around me and in my mind said, “This is my space.” Eventually, the dog left us alone and wandered off. Even though the dog backed off, I’m not sure I handled the situation the best way. My question is, what are the proper steps to take when faced with a territorial dog off its leash?

Thanks for your help,

Trena Cox

Cesar’s Advice on How to Handle a Territorial Dog

Dear Trena,

First of all I want to tell you what you did was exactly what I would have done in a situation like that with a territorial dog. I couldn’t be more proud of a person who I don’t know, I’ve never seen, and to whom I’ve never given a personal consultation! And you didn’t do anything wrong. Here’s what you did right: you controlled the environment; you controlled the momentum; you controlled yourself; you controlled the dog, and you took over for your frightened cousin. You actually controlled your cousin with your stronger energy. If you had been by yourself, you would have accomplished the exercise in a much shorter period of time. Because of your cousin’s weak energy, it took a little longer for you to make the territorial dog understand that you were not going to back away.

The great thing is that the dog did back away—and that means you won; that means you are the pack leader; that means that you should hold on to that moment for the rest of your life and feel like you just won a purple heart or some kind of medal. I am very proud and if you keep it up – keep the pack leader mentality and stay calm and assertive no matter what, which I always teach on the show—you will always succeed. I’ll say it again: I am very, very, very proud of you.

Stay calm and assertive,

Ceaser Milan

SOURCE: Ceaser Millan

Dogs Mourning Dogs

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Dogs Mourning Dogs


By Shawna Kenney

How do dogs experience the death of fellow dogs? Corey Kooken, the human companion of Lobo and Wrigley, two border collies adopted from separate rescue shelters, says she’s witnessed this first-hand.sad-dog3

“They got to know one another and tolerate each other,” she told us. “I always said Lobo was the brains and Wrigley was the brawn.” Lobo passed away from cancer at the age of twelve, and when Corey and her husband returned from the vet without him, Wrigley searched the house, looking confused. She said this happened for weeks and they wondered whether Wrigley was going to be able to function without his alpha dog.

Dog lover Karen Mandall recalls a similar story from her childhood. After their mini-dachshund Punkin escaped the yard and was hit by a car, Blue, their Great Dane, stood over her in the middle of the street until the family found them.

“Blue had never jumped the fence before and never did it again, but somehow he managed to check on her.” Karen recalls comforting the big dog through days of whimpering after his canine companion passed away.

Susie Dvorak says her long-haired Chihuahua Annie was different after Clyde, the Labradoodle she loved, died. “She used to play with him all the time but since then she doesn’t play with other dogs, no matter who, what, (or) where they are.”

Many people have such painful anecdotes, and scientists and animal behaviorists agree that dogs feel emotion. One US News & World Report story suggests dogs may mourn as deeply as humans do. In it, Barbara King, a professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, says her research shows that the above behavior of a “surviving dog looking for his companion” shows that dogs “are thinking and feeling creatures, and that sets the stage for grief.”

Grief is a pack issue. It requires us to be the pack leaders, more than ever — even while grieving our own losses. Books like Jon Katz’s “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die examine the human aspect of grief and mourning, but little has been written on how the animals themselves react and recover.

In the case of Lobo and Wrigley, Corey shares that, at first, Wrigley “didn’t eat with voraciousness and didn’t seem confident of things he’d normally done without a problem.” They tried introducing him to new dogs, taking him to his favorite places, giving him new toys, offering new food and showering him with all the attention he could handle.

But he needed time, she says. She is happy to share that after a while, Wrigley gained the confidence of a dog higher up in the pecking order and today self-assuredly leads his younger ‘brother’ Quincy around. “Thankfully he came through it and may be a stronger dog for it.”

Source: Ceaser Millan

Bob’s Journals…

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Last night I wiped my first full fledged snot from a cat. Wow! How exciting. Brought Bob to the vet, and of course I could not get him in his carrier, because he is on all paws spread attack, so I maneuvered Bob into his kennel. Bob loves his kennel, at least he did before I forced him into it to carry him to the vet. The kennel is a little awkward to carry, but manageable. While traveling to the vet, during the visit, and until we get home Bob hides under the pillow bed in his kennel. Bob does not realize that his tail-less butt is hanging out from under it. Oh, such a character. The vet said that Bob has rhinitis caused by something in the air. Bob is like a child running around with a snotty nose. He is congested and often tries to clear out his nose and throat, he wipes his nose with his paw, and sneezes (sometimes three times in a row). Other than that…Bob’s appetite is good and he is playing continually. No green stuff, thank goodness. Katie, Town & Country Animal Hospital, helped me out with the kennel. I mentioned to Katie how Bob liked his kennel and Katie responded with what I was thinking ‘Well maybe not after this visit’. When Bob and I arrived back home I placed the kennel in its corner and opened the door. Bob came out and ran to hide. However, to my surprise, a little while later I looked over at the kennel and there was Bob sleeping in it. Bob never ceases to amaze me. Whenever we have a tussle; i.e. brushing, putting him in a kennel or carrier, or telling him ‘no’ when he is doing something that I do not like, he seems to become even more attached and submissive. Well, he allowed me to pick him up by the scruff and wipe his nose with little fight. (Yes, I used a tissue.) Now, that is a mile stone! I will take a picture with him in his kennel when my reaction is fast enough to do so before Bob is aware of my presence. That… might… take… a… while….


Breed in the Spotlight: Rottweiler

Monday, May 5th, 2014


Meet the Rottweiler

​No one likes to be misunderstood. And because he’s large and strong, with an instinctive desire to guard and protect the people he loves, the Rottie can be intimidating, so his reputation often gets a bad rap. They say that “knowledge is power” (a perfect word to use here), so let’s peel away the wrapper and see what the Rottie is really all about. Like a candy bar, the Rottweiler can have a hard exterior but a sweet, gooey center.

What’s Their Story?

​What do many of the really big, powerful breeds have in common (other than being able to splatter the walls with slobber)? They are descended from the Mastiff-type dogs that first appeared in Asia. The Rottweiler’s ancestors were thought to have originated with the Ancient Romans, who brought the dogs with them when they traveled across Europe, using them to guide cattle—the Romans’ food supply on the road—and guard encampments.

What are they Like?

​No one told him that he’s not a toy breed, so at some point he’s going to plop onto your lap for a cuddle. Because of his original job as a super-smart and confident guardian, though, you’ll need to put in the time to train him and teach him solid social skills and harness his natural territorial instincts in a positive way. He has to know that you’re in charge, even if he is twice your size. Your hard work will be rewarded with a loyal, loving best friend.

(Watch video below for more information on Rottweilers)


SOURCE: Woofipedia

Journals of Bob

Thursday, May 1st, 2014


Meow……Can you come out to play?



Bob’s Journals continued…

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014


In my last e-mail I stated that Bob “intently supervises his litter box cleaning.” Well, his litter box needs cleaning daily and sometimes I forget a day. I was sitting at my computer and glanced over at the litter box and was surprised to see something besides Bob in there. I went over to look and found that I was looking at an open plastic bag inside his hooded litter box. I had placed some bags on the cot that is next to his litter box. The bags were still on the cot except for that one. I think that Bob was trying to let me know that I was doing a poor job of tending to his litter box and he decided that he would try to clean it out himself. Well…I cleaned the litter box. I think that he is happy now. He is in there taking care of business.

That’s my Bob.


Facts to Fight against Fleas

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Facts to Fight Against Fleas




Female fleas lay eggs within 24 hours of mating, producing 40-50 eggs a day. That means hundreds of eggs in just a few days!

Fleas can jump 50 – 100 times their body length thanks to an elastic pad in their legs. It tenses like a spring and they fly into the air.


Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your pet is safe from fleas. Fleas can survive in lows as cold as 28 degrees Fahrenheit and highs up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.


Fleas have four stages of life: egg, larvae, pupae and adult. All stages can live and cause problems on your pet and in your house.


Stray cats and dogs, rabbits and ferrets can carry flea eggs into your yard. Having a fence doesn’t necessarily mean you will keep fleas out.


Many species of fleas love to feed on humans. Your pets aren’t the only ones at risk if you don’t use preventative treatment.

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Flea eggs fall off an infested pet as it travels around your house. Be sure to treat the rest of your house after you’ve treated your pet.


Even if your cat isn’t scratching, she may still have fleas. Those fleas will lay eggs and then your dog may start to itch.

Bob’s Journals Continued…

Monday, April 14th, 2014













The last time I tried to pick him up, to put him in a carrier, it was another big battle, so I have been laying low with Bob in order for him to become more comfortable with me. I need to get him to the point that he consistently allows me to pick him up so that I can place him in a crate or carrier to take him places. A friend gave me a crate and he lays in it, but I have not attempted to close the door when he is in it.

I finally got his escape route fixed (under the cabinets) so that he cannot get into his hiding place. I will see how long that lasts. However, he is not hiding near as much now. He is either on one of the window sills or laying by the glass doors. Often he runs from one sill to another chasing something….do not know what.

Bob allows me to brush his back line and sides, but not his chest & neck. He really sheds. He constantly demands to be pet and cuddles with me at night. Not for long, but the fact that he is makes me happy. One morning I noticed that he was cuddled against my chest.

He intently supervises his litter box cleaning. Bob lets me know when his food bowl is near empty. He still watches television and loves to play. I had to throw one of the feather toys away because he was eating the feathers once they detached (or they’d get stuck in his mouth). The long rainbow snake like toy, with a few feathers at the bottom, he enjoys immensely. It is nearing the time to replace it.

I am really enjoying Bob. It is just frustrating to know that I still have to be cautious of his mood swings (not as frequent). I have not been able to determine the timing of them. They just happen. Our relationship has improved greatly since first bringing him home. Now he comes out when company is here. He has an eye for the ladies. He still seems to be a little leery of male company.

I am always astounded at how he seems to understand what I am telling him to do. “Bedtime Bob. Let’s go to bed.” Bob heads to the bedroom. “Bob, come eat. I filled your bowl, now come eat.” Bob heads for the kitchen. He understands ‘come’ and ‘down’. I am working on ‘up’…as in come sit on my lap or up on the bed. He does understand that a pat on the bed means to jump up onto the bed. I do not think that he trusts me enough yet to jump up onto my lap. This and the ability to pick him up will probably come hand in hand.

I do not feel it safe to bring him to my parent’s home yet. In her house I would never find him and she has a lot of places to jump onto that have breakables. I may have mentioned that my step-dad has Alzheimer, which is advancing. He loved Precious and I know that he would love Bob. My mother is anxious to meet Bob, but I know that I will never hear the end of it after Bob knocks something off of any one of her tables.


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