Ashworth Road Animal Hospital

5508 Ashworth Road
West Des Moines, IA 50266

(515)225-1807

ashworthpet.com

Preventative Care Tips

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we can avoid the onset of a problem with preventative medical care then we feel that we have been successful. The following are several of the key areas where prevention and early detection are important.

Vaccinations

This is one of the most important preventative steps that you as an owner can take to help assure a happy healthy life for your pet. Whether the vaccinations are for the dreaded disease of rabies or for a lifestyle disease such as kennel cough, the importance cannot be over-stated.

Heartworm Testing

Heartworm disease is almost everywhere in the United States. Being transmitted by the mosquito, the attempt of controlling the vector is nearly impossible. Prevention of this disease MUST be done with the pet. With our dogs, it is important to have a heartworm blood test performed annually to assure that no accidental infection has occurred. Even though a dog is on preventative therapy, a test must be performed. Once the blood test has been run and the results deemed negative, a preventative medication is started. Options for prevention include:

For our cat friends the use of heartworm prevention is recommended, especially for those cats venturing outside. Heartworm testing is not normally performed annually for cats.  Our recommendation for prevention in cats is Advantage Multi.

We test all dogs for heartworm disease with a test that also screens for several of the more common tick carried diseases like Lyme disease. We feel that given the prevalence of these diseases that every dog should be screened yearly.

Intestinal Parasites

All pets need to have a stool sample evaluated for intestinal parasites. Parasites are a problem for our pets and some of those parasites can be given to people. If a parasite is found, then a medication from our pharmacy will be prescribed to eliminate the parasite from your pet’s system.

Feline Leukemia/FIV

All cats and kittens should be tested for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunosuppressive virus (FIV). If cats go outside, then it is recommended that they be tested annually. It is recommended that all young kittens be vaccinated for the disease. Upon time for boostering the vaccine in a year, if that cat is only indoors, the vaccine may not be boostered. Those cats that go outside shuold be vaccinated against FeLV. There is no vaccine for FIV at this time.

Pet Health Assessment

This broad category includes things such as oral health care, heart and respiratory function, body conditioning (weight control), behavioral issues, and even nutrition. As a part of your pet’s annual wellness examination, the items listed above and others will be assessed. Recommendations will be made as needed to help guide you to a better and healthier life for your pet.

Just like children, cats and dogs need to visit a medical professional one a year.  While vaccination is an important part of routine care, regular visits to the veterinarian allow them to be screened for a variety of diseases and provide owners with the best possible information about caring for their dog or cat.  Give us a call and schedule an appointment for your pet to update any of these key areas.

Flea Control

Fleas are more than a nuisance; they can cause serious problems, ranging from mild skin irritations to life threatening diseases.

Proper flea control for our pets is the continual attack on the flea lifecycle.  Proper medication starts by destroying the adult flea and breaks the lifecycle by also destroying the next generation of flea eggs and larvae,. This approach is to incapacitate the adult flea BEFORE taking a full blood meal, thus diminishing the chance for egg production. This not only seems to be very effective in controlling total flea numbers but also in controlling flea allergy.

The allergic skin symptoms (redness, itching, hair loss) occur after a flea bites your pet. A topical product will kill the adult flea before the flea bites.  The liquid medication is applied to the skin on the back of the neck. Bathing must be avoided 2 days before and after application.

Proper control of fleas in your pet’s environment is also important. Carpet is a perfect breeding ground for fleas. Infested carpets must be treated to ensure eradication of these pests.  Fleas will also live and reproduce outside of your house. The areas to control are those that are protected from direct sun and wind where the ground would remain moist for breeding.

 A few of the products we recommend for flea control are:

  • Frontline (a topical product that lasts for 1 month)
  • Bravecto (an oral chew that lasts for 3 months)
  • Nexgard (an oral chew that lasts for 1 month)
  • Advantage Multi for cats (a topical product that lasts 1 month)

Dental Care for Pets

Dogs and cats can suffer from the same dental problems as people. Most pet owners seek regular preventive medicine for their pets (regular visits for vaccines, heartworm testing, feline leukemia testing, and other medical procedures) but one area of their pet’s health that is often overlooked is dental care. Studies show that regular dental care is a factor in providing a longer and healthier life for your pet.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions seen by veterinarians. It starts when plaque and tartar build up in your pet’s mouth. Plaque and tartar are a result of the combination of saliva and decayed food products in the mouth. Bacteria then flourishes in this environment and will infect the gum tissue which, if left untreated, can result in tooth loss. The bacteria also enters the bloodstream through the large blood supply in the mouth and can cause disease in other organ systems, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Developing an oral hygiene program for your pet begins with a visit to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may suggest that your pet have his/her teeth ultrasonically cleaned and polished. To properly clean the teeth and gums your pet will need to be anesthetized. Proper anesthetic monitoring will assure the procedure is being done safely. Like people, pets need this professional treatment on a routine basis.

Brushing your pet’s teeth between veterinary visits will help minimize the buildup of plaque and tartar. It is important to use a toothpaste made for pets and a soft brush designed specifically for your pet’s mouth. Pet dentifrice is flavored to appeal to pets and need not be rinsed. Do not use baking soda or human toothpaste. These often contain ingredients that should not be swallowed. When brushing is not practical, an antiseptic oral rinse can be used. If used daily, these will slow the accumulation of plaque.

Your pet’s diet is also a factor in oral health. Soft or sticky foods may contribute to buildup and subsequent disease. Dry food, hard biscuits, treats and dental diets can be helpful in removing buildup. There are also abrasive dental chews available for both dogs and cats. Providing these dental treats is often a good alternative for days when brushing cannot be done.

Signs of Poor Oral Health

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Bleeding, inflamed or receded gums
  • Sensitivity around the mouth
  • Tartar
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty eating and chewing food

Holiday Dangers

This is the time of year that we as veterinarians must answer many calls about injuries related to our holiday festivities. The following information is provided to help you insure that your pet has a happy and HEALTHY holiday season.

 

  • Chocolate – The most dangerous of all chocolate is unsweetened or baking chocolate. This form of chocolate contains 10 times the toxin theobromine than milk chocolate. As little as 1 ounce can cause death to a 10-pound dog. Theobromine is a compound that is distantly related to caffeine and has toxic symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, muscle twitches, and possible death. If you pet consumes chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.
  • Alcohol – The consumption of alcohol is usually an accidental occurrence. This often occurs with a dog getting into any leftover cocktails or beer from a holiday party. The signs that you might observe include excitability and dizziness at first but may progress to more serious problems including vomiting, lethargy, dyspnea (difficult breathing), and possibly death.
  • Christmas Decorations – Many Christmas decorations can pose a health hazard to your pet. These include:
    • Artificial trees may be of a concern, if ingested. They are usually made from plastic or metal. Make sure that the tree is secure and can’t be knocked over and chewed on.
    • Ornaments can be dangerous if eaten. They can be made of glass or thin metal, which can cause injury to the intestines. The coloring and paints that decorate the ornaments are usually non-toxic.
    • Christmas trees & other evergreens contain toxic resins and oils. When consumed these products can be of concern but usually the symptoms are seen as diarrhea and vomiting.
    • Tinsel is potentially dangerous, especially to cats. The tinsel will cause intestinal irritation and possible obstruction. Plastic is usually the main component in tinsel and usually is not toxic. Keep tinsel high on the tree, out of reach of your cats.
    • Wrapping paper and ribbon are usually non-toxic, but can be ingested and cause intestinal irritation or obstruction.
    • Holiday plants: please visit the poisonous plants page