Springtime means Sentinel Spectrum time!

posted on April 02, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As spring (finally) rolls around, we start to think of bugs.  In Minnesota, this includes the unofficial “state bird”, the mosquito.  Mosquitoes carry and transmit deadly heartworm disease.  To prevent this potentially fatal disease, we recommend monthly heartworm preventative medication.

There are many heartworm preventatives on the market today, but do you know what you’re getting?  Some medications contain substances which can be toxic to cats in the household.  Others are cheaper but don’t protect as well.  Some even have been proven to be ineffective against resistant strains of heartworm disease.  For a variety of reasons, we recommend Sentinel Spectrum as our monthly heartworm preventative.

Sentinel Spectrum is very similar to the Sentinel tablets we have been recommending for years.  It prevents against heartworm disease, but also has deworming medication effective against roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.  This is important because these intestinal parasites can cause disease in pets and some can even be transmitted to humans.  Sentinel and Sentinel Spectrum also have an ingredient that is effective against fleas.  Lastly, Sentinel Spectrum has an additional ingredient that works against tapeworms.

Tapeworms are transmitted via fleas or from rodents or wildlife (squirrels, rabbits, etc.).  Tapeworms are difficult for the veterinary community to find on routine stool sample checks, and when not found can continue to grow and cause disease in our pets.  Also, some tapeworms can be transmitted to humans.  For these reasons, a medication which can help prevent tapeworms is a great idea for many pets.

Due to the wide range of coverage provided by Sentinel Spectrum, we at Heritage Animal Hospital use and recommend Sentinel Spectrum.  It is a once a month heartworm, intestinal parasite, and flea preventative that comes in a tasty chewable tablet.  The comparison is clear.

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Sentinel and Sentinel Spectrum are trademarks of Novartis.  Heartgard Plus is a trademark of Merial.

April showers bring May flowers, fleas, and ticks!

posted on April 02, 2013 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause a variety of health issues for our pets.

Fleas can cause general annoyance from itching, while heavier infestations can cause an anemia (low red blood cell count) which may be fatal to young or small pets.  Fleas can also carry diseases such as the plague, cat scratch fever, and can transmit tapeworms.  Pets can also become allergic to fleas, which can lead to secondary skin issues.

Ticks can carry diseases that are much more severe in nature.  Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by ticks.  Ehrlichia is a white blood cell parasite.  Anaplasma is a platelet (clotting cell) parasite.  Babesia is a red blood cell parasite in dogs, and Hepatozoonosis is a white blood cell parasite in dogs.  Cytauxzoonosis is a red blood cell parasite in cats.

These many different diseases carried by ticks can cause a variety of signs in our pets.  Polyarthritis (pain in multiple joints) which can present as reluctance to move, difficulty getting up and down stairs, on and off furniture, or standing or laying down, swollen lymph nodes, decreased appetite, dehydration, fever, weakness, muscle loss or wasting, and generalized pain or increased sensitivity are a few of the symptoms.  More include hypothermia, difficulty breathing, edema (buildup of fluids), weight loss, anemia (seen as pale gums), depression, lethargy, enlarged spleen, bounding pulse, vomiting, diarrhea, bruising, bleeding disorders (such as nose bleeds), eye problems such as inflammation, discharge and even blindness, jaundice (yellowing of skin), shock, coma, and in very severe cases, death.

For these reason, we here at Heritage Animal Hospital recommend using flea and tick preventatives such as Frontline® or Revolution®.

Frontline® is a monthly topical flea and tick preventative.  It is poured on the skin between the shoulder blades and is absorbed into the hair follicles and spreads over the entire body through the skin.  This means it is not a systemic medication and will not interfere with other medications or internal organs.  Fleas and ticks do not need to bite the animal to die; fleas will die within about 12 hours of contact, and ticks will die within about 48 hours of contact, which is less than the amount of time they need to feed in order to spread any diseases they carry.

Revolution® is also a monthly topical product, but unlike Frontline®, it is a systemic medication.  Because of this, it offers protection from a few more parasites than Frontline® does, but it should be pointed out that Revolution® for cats does not protect against ticks.  Revolution® for cats protects against fleas, heartworm, ear mites, hookworms, and roundworms.  Revolution® for dogs protects against fleas, ticks, heartworm, ear mites, and sarcoptic mange.

We carry both of these products in our in-house pharmacy.  We offer special rebates directly through the manufacturers of these products, and can offer the guarantees associated with the products which are only valid if purchased from a veterinarian.

For more information on the various diseases caused by fleas and ticks, please visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council at http://www.capcvet.org.  Discuss with your veterinarian today which flea and tick preventative is right for your pet.

Snug as a bug, in your pet?

posted on March 03, 2013 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Even though the weather is still cold, internal parasites may be snug as a bug inside your pet!  One intestinal parasite can produce 100,000 eggs per day, which are passed in the pets’ feces and into your yard, where they can remain infective and pose a threat to your pet and even you for years to come.

A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted between animals and humans.  Some of the intestinal parasites found in our pets are zoonotic, and can cause some potentially irreversible damage in humans.

There are a number of intestinal parasites that can infect our pets.  Roundworms are an intestinal parasite that are zoonotic.  In humans, the worm larvae can travel through areas where they are not meant to, including internal organs such as your liver, which is called visceral larval migrans, or through the retina in your eye, which can lead to blindness, and is called ocular larval migrans.  Tapeworms are another zoonotic parasite.  Hookworms are also zoonotic, and can be picked up through the skin (so don’t walk around barefoot!).  Hookworms cause something called cutaneous larval migrans, which is a red rash where the worm is traveling through the skin.  Whipworms and coccidia are two parasites that are not zoonotic.  Giardia and cryptosporidium are two parasites that are rarely zoonotic.  These parasites pose more of a threat to people who are immunocompromised.

Your pet can get an internal parasite from a number of different sources.  Puppies and kittens can get parasites while in the womb before they are born, or through the milk while they nurse.  Animals can get parasites from a contaminated environment, objects, food, or water.  Your pet could contract a parasite if it is allowed to hunt and eat other animals, or if it has fleas.  They can also get hookworms like humans, through the skin.

Signs of intestinal parasites can include vomiting, sometimes with worms present in the vomit, diarrhea, which may be bloody, worms or worm segments in the feces, ill thrift or lack of weight gain, potbellied appearance, anemia (pale gums), dehydration, and if a severe enough infection is present, even death.

So what can you do to help prevent these serious infections?  Practice good personal hygiene.  Clean up feces in the yard at least once a week, and empty the litterbox daily.  Keep your child’s sandbox covered.  Do not feed your pet raw meat.  Use a preventative flea and tick treatment such as Frontline® or Revolution®.  Do not allow your pet to hunt and eat other animals, and try to discourage wild animals from entering your yard.  Use a monthly heartworm preventative such as Sentinel®, Interceptor®, or Heartgard® since these products also have a preventative dewormer.

Most importantly, have a fecal sample checked by your veterinarian.  No deworming medication is effective against all lifestages of the parasite, and not all parasites are susceptible to all medications.  For this reason, we here at Heritage Animal Hospital follow the recommendations of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) and recommend a twice yearly fecal examination for all pets.