Monthly Newsletter

Duluth Animal Hospital Newsletter

Duluth Animal HospitalThe veterinarians and staff at the Duluth Animal Hospital are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis. Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on Duluth Animal Hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Pets and their people love being outside in the summertime - and so do mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes are the most common carriers of heartworm disease, keeping pets up to date on preventive heartworm treatments during mosquito season is especially important.

Heartworms are exactly that—large worms that live in the hearts of cats and dogs. Known as Dirofilaria Immitis, heartworms are long, spaghetti-like worms that range in size from 6 to 10 inches. Heartworms are almost always transmitted by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites an infected dog or cat; that mosquito picks up microfilariae, a microscopic version of the heartworm. When that mosquito bites your dog or cat, the heartworm microfilariae are transmitted to him / her. Within 70 to 90 days, the microfilariae make it to your pet's heart and, once mature, begin reproducing. The cycle then begins again.

Signs of heartworm disease in pets vary based on the age and species of the pet and the number of worms present. Because the worms are usually located on the right side of the heart and lung, coughing and shortness of breath are common signs in both dogs and cats. Dogs that have just acquired the disease may have no signs, while dogs with a moderate occurrence of the disease may cough and show an inability to exercise. In extreme cases, dogs may experience fainting, weight loss, fever, abdominal swelling and death. In cats, the symptoms of heartworm disease are similar to those of feline asthma, including coughing and shortness of breath. Some cats may exhibit no signs of the disease, while others may suddenly die.


Heartworm Disease Cycle

When it comes to preventing heartworm disease, pet owners have a number of options. Before beginning preventive medication, pet owners should have their pets tested for the presence of heartworms. If heartworms are present, a treatment plan should be discussed with your veterinarian. Most heartworm prevention is done by administering your pet a once-a-month heartworm preventive medication. Many of these monthly products are administered as a chew-able treat. Some are combined with other preventive medications. Your veterinarian will recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.


If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm or you would like additional information about the disease, please contact your veterinary hospital.

Say Thank You: World Veterinary Day is April 29

Saturday, April 29 is World Veterinary Day for 2017. Started by the World Veterinary Association, World Veterinary Day was started to honor veterinarians and spread awareness of the One Health Concept, which “recognizes that the health and well-being of animals, humans and the ecosystem are interconnected, and depend on effective and sustained collaboration between human and animal-focused disciplines.”

But what does your veterinarian actually do?



If you think veterinary medicine is about animals, you’re only partially right. Animals don’t call veterinarians. People call veterinarians. The vast range of people and places needing veterinary services include research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, dairies, swine farms, public health departments, feed industry, livestock industry and pet owners. Veterinary medicine is a great field because it encompasses so many different areas.

Most people don’t realize how closely human medicine is linked to veterinary medicine. Lifesaving medical advances, in areas from vaccine development to heart surgery, could not have been made without the use of research animals. People may also be unaware of the public services that involve veterinarians. Government agencies from the FDA to state health departments rely on veterinarians to track rabies, foodborne illnesses and diseases transmitted from animals to people.



Of course, there are many benefits to working closely with animals. One of the pleasures of being a veterinarian is that people who own animals love their animals, whether the animals are horses, pigs, iguanas or puppies. You are generally dealing with people with empathy who like what they are doing. They recognize that what is best for the animal is also usually best for them.

For more information about World Veterinary Day, check out the World Veterinary Association’s website.

Your Pet's Allergies

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It's major function is to protect the rest of the body from the external environment. With it's sweat glands and rich blood supply, it is also responsible for regulating the body's temperature.

The exterior portion of the skin is called keratin. In animals, this protective waterproof layer is thickest on the paw pads. Under the keratin layer are the epidermal cells. These cells are constantly dividing, as new cells are replacing damaged older cells. The keratin layer and the epithelial cells are the body's first line of defense against invading microorganisms and hazardous environmental substances. These layers are also responsible for keeping moisture inside the body, preventing the body from dehydrating.

Like humans, animals have allergies. Some allergies are seasonal while others occur year round. In the northern parts of the U.S., flea allergies are commonly seen in the summer and fall. In the southern states, flea allergies often occur throughout the year. Food allergies are not seasonal. They can occur anytime during the year. The most common types of allergies in pets (particularly dogs) include: contact allergies, flea allergies, atopy and food allergies.



Asthma and hay fever are common symptoms of allergies in humans. Animals rarely develop these symptoms. Scratching is the most common symptom of allergies in pets. Some animals scratch so much that they mutilate themselves. It is not unusual to see an allergic dog with large skin wounds and areas devoid of fur (often called "hot spots"). Once the skin is injured, the animal is susceptible to a serious bacterial infection.

There are many ways to treat allergies in pets. Food allergies can be treated with hypoallergenic diets. Certain animals respond favorably to desensitization. Unfortunately, in most cases, allergies are extremely difficult to treat and require medication. This medication should only be dispensed by a veterinarian.

Beat the Heat: Summer Care Tips for Cats

The summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather, but you may want to leave Kitty indoors while you frolic in the sun. While it's easy for you to keep cool when temperatures rise, cats have a much more difficult time when it comes to beating the heat. Here are some tips to keep your feline family members nice and cool in the summer.

Cats generally handle warmer temperatures better than dogs, but owners should remain vigilant about Kitty during the summer months. The easiest way to keep your cat cool in the summer is to keep him or her indoors during the hottest parts of the day. If you do let your cat venture outside, do so early in the morning or at dusk when the temperature is cooler and there is more shade from the sun. While your cat is inside, keep plenty of fresh, cool water available throughout the house. If the weather is extremely hot, consider wrapping your cat in a cool, damp towel or placing a plastic bag full of ice under their bed.

Keep your cat cool during the summer months

When the weather is extremely hot and humid, cats can be prone to heat stroke. Very old cats, as well as obese cats and those with existing health problems are especially susceptible to heath stroke. Owners should also be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. A cat's normal body temperature should be between 100.5 degrees F and 101.5 degrees F. Any temperature higher than 102 degrees F is dangerous, and immediate action should be taken to lower the cat's temperature. If a cat's temperature increases to 107 degrees F, he or she is possibly suffering the effects of heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Panting
  • Staring
  • Anxious expression
  • Warm, dry skin
  • High fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

If your cat begins exhibiting any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately. To cool your cat down, remove him or her from the area and apply towels soaked in cool water to your cat's skin. Immersion in a cool water bath for 30 minutes may also help lower your cat's temperature. While on the way to the veterinarian's office, place ice packs around your cat's head and body. No matter how you cool your cat off, you must bring him or her to a veterinarian as intravenous fluids may be required. Heat stroke can be fatal if left untreated.

Keep your cat cool during the summer months

Even though Kitty is covered in a fine coat of fur, she is just as susceptible to sunburn as you. Cats with white coats or white ears and faces are particularly prone to feeling the effects of the sun's rays. And while sunburn is discomforting for your cat in the short term, it can also have long term effects. Extended exposure to direct sunlight can lead to squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer that usually appears at the tips of the ears and on the nose. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma include sores that bleed excessively or do not heal. The best way to protect your cat is to keep him or her out of direct sunlight in the summer time. If your cat is going outdoors, you can protect his or her skin with an application of sunscreen; however, be sure only to use a sunscreen formulated for cats. Sunscreen not designed for cats can result in drooling, lethargy, diarrhea and excessive thirst. Ask your veterinarian about sunscreens that are right for your cat.

Your cat may also face other, non-weather-related problems in the summertime. Cats outdoors for a roam may be tempted to take a taste of antifreeze puddles they find in streets and driveways. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets—it only takes one to two teaspoons of antifreeze to poison a cat. Symptoms include vomiting, excessive thirst/urination, depression and a wobbly gait. If you suspect your cat has ingested antifreeze, get him or her to a veterinarian immediately. Owners should also make sure there are no open, unscreened windows in their homes. Adventurous cats may jump or accidentally fall out of open windows, leading to broken bones and other injuries.

Summer can be a carefree, easy time for you and your pet, so long as you both play it safe and keep cool. Ask your veterinarian if you have any questions about beating the heat this summer.

Fourth Of July Pet Safety Tips

Fireworks and the Fourth of July go together like ... well, fireworks and the Fourth of July. While you may already have safeguards in place for people and children, there are additional things to consider for pet owners. Here are a few tips on helping your pets remain safe and happy while dealing with fireworks.



Always keep fireworks out of reach of your pet- While this may seem obvious for lit fireworks, it’s important to keep unlit fireworks away from your pets as well. Ingesting fireworks could be lethal for your pet. If your pet does get into your fireworks, contact your veterinarian right away.

Be aware of projectiles- Roman candles, for example, have projectile capabilities. If used incorrectly, an ejected shell can hit a pet, causing burning. If your pet gets burned, contact your veterinarian right away.

Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier- Never let your pets run free in an area where fireworks are going off.

Know what do to in case of a seizure- For some animals, being in the presence of fireworks can trigger a seizure. If your pet is prone to seizures, he or she should never be around fireworks – but most pet owners won’t know if their dog is prone to seizures until he or she experiences one. If this happens, stay calm and remove any objects in the area that might hurt your pet. Do not attempt to move your pet, as they may bite without knowing it. When the seizure is over, move him or her into an area clear of the firework’s sights and sounds. Call your veterinarian right away.

Ease your pet’s fear- Many pets are frightened of fireworks, and may exhibit fear by whimpering, crying or otherwise displaying uneasiness. Create a safe space for these animals before the event. During the fireworks, use the radio, television, fan or air conditioner to create white noise that will drown out the sound of the fireworks.


By planning ahead and keeping key information in mind, your pet can have a happy, stress-free Fourth of July – and so can you!

Fireworks Are Dangerous to Your Pet

If you thought it would be harmless to mix pets and fireworks, think again. All fireworks should be kept at a safe distance from curious and unsuspecting pets. Anything from small smoke bombs and sparklers to large aerial displays has the potential to cause severe burns. The face, mouth and paws are the most common places pets get burned by fireworks. Furthermore, fireworks can also contain heavy metals that are used as coloring agents and may cause poisoning if ingested. Symptoms of heavy metal/fireworks poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, jaundice, tremors and seizures.


If your pet may have ingested fireworks, immediate examination by a veterinarian is recommended. Do not induce vomiting at home as it can cause severe burns, especially in the mouth and upper gastrointestinal tract. While the prognosis is good in many cases involving the ingestion of small fireworks and minor burns, that is often not the case when the pet has ingested several fireworks. This is due to liver and nerve damage.

As you enjoy your holiday, remember to use common sense, and always put safety first for all family members.

How to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

People usually prepare themselves for the dangers of increased temperatures. But as the dog days of summer approach, our trusted companions also need special attention to insure that they don’t get burned. Like for us, the summer months bring an increased danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for dogs.

People naturally regulate their body temperature by sweating. Dogs mainly cool themselves by panting or breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. The process of panting directs air over the mucous membranes (moist surface) of the tongue, throat and trachea (windpipe). The air that is flowing over these organs causes evaporation, thus cooling the animal. Another mechanisms that helps remove heat includes dilation of blood vessels in the skin of the face, ears and feet. Dilated blood vessels located on the surface of the body cause the blood to loose heat to the outside air.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Like people, dogs can become overheated. If it rises to 105 or 106 degrees, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107 degrees, the dog has entered the danger zone of heat stroke. With heat stroke, damage to the body can be irreversible. Organs begin to shut down, and veterinary care is immediately needed.



Fortunately, if owners recognize heat exhaustion, they can prevent the dog from entering heat stroke. People can easily recognize when the heat gets to them because they become lightheaded and fail to sweat. For dogs, early signs of heat exhaustion may include failure to salivate and a dry mouth. Heat exhaustion may also include a dog lying down and looking tired, losing its appetite and becoming unresponsive to owners.

If heat exhaustion progresses into heat stroke, the dog becomes very warm to touch and may have seizures. Internal mechanisms roll into effect that may cause blood clotting and organ damage. If you are near a phone and think that heat stroke is a possibility, call your veterinarian immediately. If a veterinarian is not within reach, or while waiting for a veterinarian, get the dog out of the sun and cool him or her down with cool water baths (cool—not cold). Provide a fan, especially if you wet the dog down, and encourage him or her to drink water.

While these steps may help a dog, the best treatment is prevention. In order to prevent overheating, some owners may shave their dogs or trim their fur excessively. This isn’t always a good idea. The hair coat may appear to be a burden for a dog; however, it can also keep the animal comfortable by trapping cool air next to the skin, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the hot outside air to the body of the dog.

Dogs with long or thick coats that have problems with matted hair are often good candidates for clipping. Matted hair can cause skin irritation and is undesirable. Owners that do not have time to adequately remove mats and debris from their dog’s coat may prefer to have the coat clipped short. After a short clipping, and if the dog is outdoors, owners need to be careful of sunburn. Sunscreen may be applied to the dog’s skin; however, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian to find out which ones are safe.

Here are some other tips for keeping your dog cool this summer:

  • Keep dogs indoors in air conditioning on very hot days.
  • Do not leave dogs in a car during the summer. Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise to above 120 degrees. Make sure outdoor dogs have plenty of shade.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • On very hot days, exercise dogs early in the morning or late in the evening. If this is not possible, exercise in an air conditioned environment.
  • Provide your dog with a sprinkler or wading pool on very warm days.
  • If you take the dog to a lake, make sure it has plenty of time to drink and get wet. Most dogs can drink lake water without adverse effects.
  • If your dog has a light coat or exposed skin, take precautions against sunburn.
  • Dogs can acclimate to warm temperatures and have no trouble staying outdoors in the heat. However, dogs that are used to cool climates or air conditioning should not be left outside on hot days.
  • Acclimating your dog gradually is the key.

If you have questions about caring for your dog during the summer months, please give your veterinarian a call.

How to Measure Your Pet's Quality of Life

Veterinarians take many things into consideration before recommending humane euthanasia for a sick, injured or elderly pet. When it comes to setting your own mind at ease, there are ways to rate or measure your pet's overall well-being.

The Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State University published a survey designed to illustrate your pet's quality of life which was adapted from several other common methods. The survey asks you, the pet owner, to rate 25 different prompts on a scale from one to five. A score of one indicates strong agreement or a condition that is present all the time or is severe; a score of five indicates strong disagreement or a condition that is never present and nonexistent. Thus, higher scores indicate a better quality of life.



The Survey

Scale

1: Strongly Agree / All the Time / Severe

2: Agree / Most of the Time / Significant

3: Neutral / Sometimes / Mild

4: Disagree / Occasionally / Slight

5: Strongly Disagree / Never / None

My pet...

1. Does not want to play

2. Does not respond to my presence or doesn't interact with me in the same way as before

3. Does not enjoy the same activities as before

4. Is hiding

5. Demeanor/behavior is not the same as it was prior to diagnosis/illness

6. Does not seem to enjoy life

7. Has more bad days than good days

8. Is sleeping more than usual

9. Seems dull and depressed

10. Seems to be or is experiencing pain

11. Is panting (even while resting)

12. Is trembling or shaking

13. Is vomiting and/or seems nauseous

14. Is not eating well (may only be eating treats or if fed by hand)

15. Is not drinking well

16. Is losing weight

17. Is having diarrhea often

18. Is not urinating well

19. Is not moving normally

20. Is not as active as normal

21. Does not move around as needed

22. Needs my help to move around normally

23. Is unable to keep self clean after soiling

24. Has coat that is greasy, matted or rough-looking

25. How is my pet's overall health compared to the initial diagnosis/illness?

Once you have rated each prompt, tally up the number of responses for each number and then place an 'X' on a "Quality of Life line" labeled "Good" at one end and "Poor" at the other according to your most frequent response.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you better visualize your pet's general well-being. Of course, not all pets are the same and what is rated poorly for one may not be so bad for another. For pets currently undergoing treatment, some poor ratings may be liked to symptoms and side effects which will subside. It is always important to discuss your concerns and your pet's overall demeanor with your veterinarian, especially when considering humane euthanasia.

Help Your Pet Be Healthy with Preventive Care

Please remember that regular wellness care not only saves money over the course of your pet's life, it also helps ensure his or her life will be long, happy and healthy. Some excellent reasons to maintain a regular preventative care schedule for your pet include:

• Wellness exams are not only about vaccines, but include a full examination of mouth, ears, eyes, skin, respiratory system, heart, lymph nodes, abdomen, joints and muscles, along with an evaluation of organ function, changes to your pet's weight, habits, activity level, and blood work—as well as a chance for us to answer any questions you might have.

• Routine exams help us develop a baseline for your pet, making it easier to assess any changes that take place from one visit to the next. Declines in health may not be as obvious to you because you see your pet every day, but with regularly updated records, we can recognize differences and take steps if needed.

• Early signs of illness can be detected before they become serious—signs that can only be identified by a veterinarian during a comprehensive exam.

• Dogs and cats can hide illnesses and pain, and in the absence of other obvious symptoms, could be struggling without your knowledge.

• Senior pets have evolving health issues as they age, and routine wellness exams will give you an opportunity to manage your pets aging and understand any lifestyle changes that may be needed.

• Dental issues in your dog or cat can affect his or her body more than you may imagine. Advanced stages of dental decay can cause heart, liver and kidney disease due to the bacteria entering the blood stream.

• Even indoor cats need preventive care. Problems ranging from ear infections to cancer can still occur and need early detection only regular examinations can provide. An indoor cat can still come in contact with a rabid bat or a mosquito carrying heartworm.

• There are physical and emotional costs associated with illness, not just for your pet, but for you and your family. Illness can be time-consuming, messy, worrisome and stressful—all of which impact your household and the way your pet interacts with family members. A stressful car ride and wellness exam once or twice a year pales in comparison.

Back to Top