Spring has sprung and we are going to spend a lot more time outside with our pets. That is, except for me. Those of you who follow this column know that, as well as loving animals, I love to ski. In March, while skiing in Utah, my ski fell off and I crashed into the side of the slope. The result of this fall is that on April 18th, the Yankee’s team doctor (I told him I’m a Mets fan) will be repairing my rotator cuff. This surgery will severely limit my ability to have fun and work for 6-10 weeks. Laura says she will treat me with loving kindness and not like Nurse Rachett.
Enough about me. Your dog and cat friends will be experiencing the great outdoors and there are some things that we as pet owners need to keep in mind to make sure they stay healthy and safe. Warm weather is the friend of the parasite. These pests include ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and various intestinal parasites. Ticks will show up any day the temperature is over 45 degrees. Both adult and nymphal ticks are out now. The nymphal ticks can be the size of a period on this paper and difficult to see. While many of us just feel for ticks on our pets, the use of a Spot-On (or similar) tick killer is recommended. Most of these products do not repel ticks or fleas; instead, they kill the ticks over a period of 24-48 hours, before the tick can attach. Lyme disease takes over 24 hours to transmit from tick to animal.
These products do a very good job in killing fleas as well as destroying their eggs. Some- times I hear these preparations haven’t worked. Usually that means either an application error or an infestation in the house with constant hatching of new fleas.
Heart worm is still an issue in Rockland. These parasites are carried by mosquitoes from dog to dog. The mosquito sucks blood from a heart worm-positive dog and injects it into the skin of a nearby pet. Within six months these parasites have traveled to the heart and have become mature worms. These worms start to make their way into the lungs where they plug up the blood vessels, depriving that area of a good blood supply. Many dogs are now being brought here from the Southern US by rescue organizations. Many times, these pets harbor heart worms, fleas and intestinal parasites.
A simple yearly blood test can detect heart worms. Heartworm preventives are chewable monthly pills and, if one can remember to give them, they do a good job of prevention.
Intestinal parasites are present in the stools of dogs and cats, as well as wild animals. Your pet can acquire them by ingesting some of the stool or in some cases, from drinking standing water. Raccoon roundworms are especially dangerous, both to pets and children. Ingestion can cause parasites to go to the brain and cause damage. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia and protozoan parasites can all be transmitted in the feces. A laboratory analysis of the stool specimen will detect these and we have many good medications to get rid of them. Stools should be picked up to prevent transmission and also to avoid contaminating the lawn with worm eggs which can get licked up and ingested. Picking up stool is not just a matter of courtesy to the next person walking in the area, but will help protect all pets from picking up parasites.
Unfortunately, when your arm is in a sling device, it is not a good idea to have a 90 lb. dog jump on you or crash into you while chasing a 12 lb. cat. I don’t know how we will deal with this.
We are all very happy with our new home at the Mountainview condos. It is a very dog-friendly place and Tuni has met many new friends. Oliver just sits in the window and chirps at the bird feeder.
Dr. Segall can be reached Tues thru Thurs mornings at The Hudson Valley Animal Hospital, 4 Old Lake Rd Valley Cottage, NY (845) 268-0089 ex 3.