My Dog is Heartworm Positive
It was the third Monday in October 2013. I had dropped my dog, Maddie, off at the vet. She was having trouble breathing that morning and I thought perhaps a new harness may have hurt her. I proceeded to go see my doctor in the medical center. On the way home, as I was exiting off the freeway, the other vet in the practice called me. I was not expecting to hear: “Lymphosarcoma.” On Wednesday of that same week we put her to sleep because she was suffering so much.
Here it was, an exact year later. It was the third Monday in October 2014. Our Boomer had a full yearly examination on that Friday before (he had a full exam when he was saved from the Beaumont Animal Pound by Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston). I was in the exact same doctor’s office in the medical center when a call came in. I let it go to voice mail. As I continued to wait, I listened to the voice mail. It was the other vet in the practice, the same one that delivered the bad news about Maddie, saying that he wanted to talk about the heartworm test. That could mean only one thing to me. He is heartworm positive. I texted my husband to call because I wouldn’t be able to call them until later that day. My question is: HOW? I told my husband to remind them that it may look like we didn’t have all the appropriate months for heartworm, but we had Maddie’s 5 months’ worth and it was the same brand and weight range.
We adopted him in December. His foster mother had given him his December heartworm preventative. He tested negative with them. We were faithful giving it to him every month, although not necessarily on the 1st of the month. I do get email reminders about the medication AND we put the sticker on the calendar so my husband and I can check each other if we don’t see it. I double-looked at the calendar to make sure we did this. And we did. When I called back to hear about the treatment approaches and costs, I made sure to tell them about the heartworm pills he got that were Maddie’s leftovers. I guess they were letting me know that the heartworm preventative company would not pay for it unless I could show purchases. I was not looking for that though.
After weighing the two options of what they call the slow kill versus the quick kill, the only pro I saw to the slow kill was it didn’t cost as much. It would take years for the adult heartworms to die off. Meanwhile the damage to his body from the heartworms would continue and we could lose him at a younger age. As they did die off we would have the same issues as we do now about keeping him quiet. As the adults die, they can cause blockage in the pulmonary vessels and cause death. The dogs that do die from the quick-kill method are because the owners let them exercise.
Our first step was a full radiological and laboratory workup. He had thickening of his bronchial wall, which they were not sure was pneumonia or related to the heartworm. His creatinine was also elevated (a measure of kidney function). He also had struvite crystals in his urine. Again, the vet is not sure if it is an incidental finding or related to the heartworms. He was put on doxycycline for 3 weeks and prednisone for a month. We had to get his urine checked at 3 weeks. He still had some crystals in his urine on his November 14 followup so they changed his antibiotic to Daytril. In 3 more weeks we will get his creatinine rechecked.
Monday, November 24 is the day. We are nervous about this. Boomer is a very active dog. I think he is young and strong and he will survive the arsenic-based product they will use. He will receive pain medications and have the one injection. They will keep him the entire day to monitor him and hopefully he will get to come home with us that evening. Then next month around this same time he will be there for two days where he will receive two injections over the two days. This dog will stay in the crate only if we are around. At night, he likes to sleep on the couch. To prevent that we got him a doggy bed and put it in our master bathroom and will put a baby gate across the door so he can still see us, but we can still keep our bedroom door open for my son.
The lesson here is that even though you adopt a rescue dog that is heartworm-negative, and you do everything right in giving heartworm prevention tablets, it can still happen. It takes sometimes 5-7 months for the test to show up positive from the time of the initial infection. Now we say a prayer and trust that we will make it out the other side with a healthy dog who no longer has heartworms. Keep us in your thoughts!
Is Your Dog an Optimist or a Pessimist?
New research from the University of Sydney shows that dogs can be either optimists or pessimists. This research will be largely beneficial to predicting which dogs will make the best service dogs, but it gives dog owners credibility that there is science behind something we already know.
Dogs were trained to touch a target after hearing tones two octaves apart. One of the tones would lead to a drink of milk as a reward and the other water. Once they understood that, other tones between the two octaves were presented to them. Researchers theorized that the dogs that persevered and kept hitting the target through the new tones were hopeful that one of them would lead to a reward. The pessimistic dogs grew distressed when those tones did not result in a milk reward and avoided repeating the task. The researchers also discovered that the pessimistic dogs were better in their training to be guide animals for people with disabilities because they were careful and anxious about taking risks. The persistent optimistic dog would do a better job as a search and rescue dog.
The Washington Post sought comment from Mark Bekoff, an author and professor emeritus at University of Colorado, who is hesitant to call the dogs that gave up as “pessimists.” He felt if the failure in the milk/water task would lead them to be less interested in unrelated reward-based experiments, that might lead to discovery of a pathologically pessimistic pup. He was intrigued by the attempt to assess the personality traits. “Especially in dogs who are abused early on, you definitely see animals who just really won’t work that hard to get love or affection, having failed before. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to say that there are optimistic and pessimistic dogs–and that you can change their behavior.”
For the full study, click here.
Since we became foster parents of our 18-year-old son with autism (our biological son–it’s complicated) we had to complete a once-a-month fire drill for the state of Texas. We decided to include our dog, Boomer, in the drills because we would NOT be leaving our dog behind if we had a fire. The agency who receives our fire drill reports was amused that we listed Boomer Bowen (the dog) in our list of people participating in the required fire drill.
July 15th was National Pet Fire Safety Day. Do you have a plan for your pets if a fire should occur? From the time you hear the smoke alarms or smell smoke, you likely have about 2 minutes to get to safety. Have you sounded your fire alarms while your pet is in the home so that they will get conditioned to the noise?
1. Start by identifying two ways out of each room (door/window).
2. If you have other people in the home, establish a meeting location where you will all meet up.
3. Keep a collar on your dog, leashes and cat carriers in an easy-to-access place near an exit point. If you don’t like keeping a collar on your dog, a kennel slip lead would work as well. Pets will likely panic at the smell of smoke and sight of fire, so secure the dog on a leash and put your cat in a carrier before exiting your home. If you have multiple family members, sometimes it is good to assign certain pets to different individuals, but that is not always foolproof. Practice with a pretend fire in a certain location in home (tell your family the fire will be in a certain location the next time you have a drill.
4. If you have birds or other caged pets, decide who is taking charge of them (assuming they can safely do so).
5. If you cannot find or reach your pet before you evacuate, leave an outside door open and call your pet’s name. Be persistent and loud and don’t give up.
What If A Fire Starts When You Are Not At Home
1. You can consider a monitored smoke-detection service so that firefighters can be called at the first sign of smoke (even if you are at home).
2. If you are leaving your pets at home alone, secure them in rooms near entrances. You can use the dog’s crate or use gates to close off a certain room (or the doors to other rooms).
3. Affix a pet alert window cling to the front window. This decal includes the number of pets in your house so first responders know who to look for when they enter the home. Keep them up-to-date as the number of pets increases or decreases in your household. Click here to order your free decal from the ASPCA.
Pets As The Cause of Fires
The National Fire Protection Association says that more than 1000 house fires every year are caused by pets. Pet proof your home against potential fire hazards. This was one case scenario: “Your dog was home alone and saw cake on the stove top. As the dog tried to get a taste, their paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. ”
1. Don’t leave pets unattended around any open flame: Candles, cooking appliances, fireplaces. Of course extinguish open flames if you are leaving the home.
2. Remove stove knobs: A stove or cook top is the most common piece of equipment involved when a pet starts a fire. Removing the knobs or protecting them with child and pet-proof covers is the easiest way to prevent this.
3. Choose flameless candles. It will give you the ambience without the danger.
4. Avoid glass water bowls on a wooden deck. This surprised me as well. If it is hot outside, the sun’s rays can heat up the bowl enough to actually ignite a wooden deck. A stainless steel or ceramic bowl won’t cause this problem.
5. Pet proof your home including electrical wires and power cords which should be secured out of your pet’s reach.
It’s Hot, Hot, Hot!
I know all of you are well aware of the dangers of taking your dog in the car during hot weather, but what temperature is “too hot” to leave your dog in the car would likely surprise you. Seventy degrees. When it is 75 degrees, it feels like 118; 77 degrees is like 123 degrees; 81 degrees is like 138; 90 degrees feels like 143 degrees; 94 degrees feels like 145. Here is a great demonstration from PETA.
A Leash Above will not walk dogs in temperature extremes. What is extreme is going to differ between dog breeds and tolerances of your own dog. Some dogs become conditioned to walk with their owners during the hottest parts of the day, but if this is not done on a regular basis, it is not a good idea for me to do this. If a walk is scheduled during the hotter times of the day, the dog must walk on the grass or in an area that is 100% shady on the asphalt. Sometimes the walking trails throughout The Woodlands can accomplish this and sometimes not. The test I used as a standard to determine if it is too hot is putting the back of my hand firmly on the asphalt for 7 seconds. If it is hot for me, your dog’s paws will feel the same way and could burn. When the asphalt is 125 degrees, skin destruction can occur in 60 seconds. The air temperature only has to be 77 degrees for that to occur. An egg can fry in 5 minutes at an asphalt temperature of 131 (air temperature near 86 degrees). When the air is just 87 degrees, the asphalt temperature can be 143 degrees. Pets with yards can be exercised very well there instead of the usual walk. Pets in apartments for midday visits will be walked in safe areas on grass as can be accomplished.
If you have any questions, please contact me.
Bravo Dog & Cat Food Recall
(Press Release) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 14, 2014 – Manchester, CT – Bravo is recalling select lots and product(s) of Bravo Pet Food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
However, healthy cats and dogs rarely become sick from Listeria. Animals ill with Listeria will display symptoms similar to the ones listed above for humans. People who have concerns about whether their pet has Listeria should contact their veterinarian.
The recalled product was distributed nationwide to distributors, retail stores, internet retailers and directly to consumers. The product can be identified by the batch ID code (best used by date) printed on the side of the plastic tube or on a label on the box.
The recalled products are as follows:
1) These products are being recalled because they may have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! BEEF BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
All 2lb., 5lb., and 10lb. tubes
Product Numbers: 52-102, 52-105, 52-110
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier
PRODUCT: BRAVO! BALANCE PREMIUM TURKEY FORMULA (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
3 lb. box with (12) 4oz. burgers
Product Number: 31-401
Best Used By Dates: 1/07/16 and 2/11/16
2) These products are being recalled out of an abundance of caution because while they did not test positive for pathogens, they were manufactured in the same manufacturing facility or on the same day as products that did test positive.
PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! LAMB BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
All 2lb., 5lb., and 10lb. tubes
Product Numbers: 42-102, 42-105, 42-110
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier
PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! LAMB BASIC FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
Product Number: 42-202
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier
PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! BEEF & BEEF HEART FOR DOGS AND CATS (Made in New Zealand)
Product Number: 53-130
Best Used By Date: 10/10/15 or earlier
PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! 100% PURE & NATURAL PREMIUM GRASS-FED BUFFALO FOR DOGS AND CATS (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
NET WT 2LBS (32 OZ) .91KG (Tubes)
Product Number: 72-222
Best Used By Date: 1/7/16
PRODUCT: BRAVO! TURKEY BALANCE FORMULA (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
NET WT 2 LBS (32 OZ) .09KG, Chub (tube)
Product Number: 31-402
Best Used By Dates: 1/7/16 and 2/11/16
NET WT 5 LBS (80 OZ) 2.3KG, Chub (tube)
Product Number: 31-405
Best Used By Dates: 1/7/16 and 2/11/16
PRODUCT: RAW FOOD DIET BRAVO! LAMB BLEND FOR DOGS AND CATS (Manufactured by: Bravo! Manchester, CT)
5 LBS (80 OZ) 2.3KG, Chub (tube)
Product Number: 42-105
Best Used By Date: 2/11/16
This voluntary recall has been issued because the FDA has reported an independent lab detected the bacteria in a sample during a recent review. The company has received a limited number of reports of dogs experiencing nausea and diarrhea that may be associated with these specific products. The company has received no reports of human illness as a result of these products.
Bravo discontinued all manufacturing in New Zealand on October 10, 2013. Bravo will immediately start working with distributors and retailers to properly dispose of any affected product left on freezer shelves. The company will also be announcing the recall to pet owners to ensure they dispose of any affected product that has been purchased.
Bravo is issuing this action out of an abundance of caution and sincerely regrets any inconvenience to pet owners as a result of this announcement.
The recalled product should not be sold or fed to pets. Pet owners who have the affected product at home should dispose of this product in a safe manner (example, a securely covered trash receptacle). They can return to the store where purchased and submit the Product Recall Claim Form available on the Bravo website www.bravopetfoods.com for a full refund or store credit. More information on the Bravo recall can also be found at www.bravopetfoods.com, or call toll free (866) 922-9222.
*Image of product labels for recalled items is attached.
Hurricane Season Approaches
The other day the power went out in the evening at my house and stayed out for many hours. I always consider myself prepared for hurricane season, but was I really? That evening for me was a trial run. I failed. We had flashlights but where were they? I used my new keychain light to try to find them. Because it was in the evening, I needed a light that could light up the room. I have a lantern-type flashlight but it took a lot of effort to locate it. When the electric company said it would be at least midnight before it was fixed (and it was more like 2 a.m.), I had to find a better solution than candles. I needed a bathroom lantern in case my son got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. As many of you know, he has severe autism. He would not be able to be told, “Here’s a flashlight for you to use if you have to get up and the power is still off.” I found my battery-operated candle and put that in his bathroom. I certainly did not want candles burning all night so I put a regular hand-held flashlight up against something so it could light up the room.
I realize that we would have some advanced warning about a hurricane or tropical storm approaching, but if one whipped up from the Gulf of Mexico down near Mexico, we might not have much warning. Anyone who lives in the path of a potential hurricane knows the rush on supplies at the store. During Hurricane Ike, we were without power for 7 days. After that event, we bought a small generator–enough to power a refrigerator and plugs to charge things. My son still has toileting accidents, so we can unplug the refrigerator plug temporarily to plug our washer in to that same generator. The dryer plug would not work, but we can put his things outside. I have found that buying bottled water and storing it for the whole summer makes it taste pretty terrible, especially since we have to store it in the garage. Instead, I wash out milk containers starting in May and keep their lids. As a potential storm approaches I fill all the bottles. If the storm bypasses us, I just use that water on my plants. I also start making ice and lots of it (when the storm might still be in the Atlantic).
We generally focus on ourselves, but as pet owners it is our responsibility to prepare ahead for them. I could use a little work on that.
Let’s go past a hurricane. Let’s say the fire department comes to your door and says you have 30 minutes to get out of the area. Are you prepared? The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters has good tips for you.
1) When developing your family plan, add specific plans for your pets.
2) Assign each family member a pet to locate and care for.
3) Decide where you will go and pick a meeting place for your family in case of separation.
4) Think of whom you can call outside your area. An out-of-state contact can be helpful if communications are down in a disaster zone. Let this contact know your disaster plan and family meeting place should you be evacuated.
5) The best emergency plans include many people and systems that can back each other up. Please include family, friends, neighbors, your veterinarian, and pet sitter.
6) Contact hotels and motels in advance to check which ones accept pets as well as local humane societies and emergency clinics.
7) Build a phone tree. One person phones two people to see if they need help. Those two people each phone two more and so on.
8) Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit.
9) Stay current on vaccines.
10) Make your home safe (or have a safe zone in your home) for your pet in a disaster.
11) Accustom your pets to sudden actions as would be needed in a disaster.
12) Check with your pet sitter to see what their emergency plan is for your pet. Make sure you have your pet disaster kit ready and let your sitter know exactly where it is. Make sure your sitter has all your emergency contacts so in case you are not reachable they can let someone know your pet is safe. The sitter can secure your home and let your neighbors know where your pets will be. Most sitters keep keys to their clients’ homes so if you are not traveling but cannot get to your house due to work or road conditions your pet sitter may be able to secure your pets when you can’t.
Disaster Supply Kit
This is a minimum checklist for your pet should an emergency strike.
1) Prepare a list for each pet. Kits should be easily retrieved and kept in a water tight container.
2) Crate or carrier for each pet large enough to turn around in, and cat carriers large enough for a small litter box.
3) Rotate all foods into use and replace with fresh food every 2 months.
4) Collars and leashes for all pets (including cats) with ID, microchip number, and rabies tags on all collars.
5) Pet first-aid kit including bandaging material, antiseptic ointment, alcohol, gloves, tweezers, muzzle and gauze (You can buy these through the ASPCA if you don’t want to create one for yourself).
6) Vet information and vaccination records and current pictures of each pet.
7) Three-week supply of each pet(s) medications.
8) Sedatives for pets that frighten easily.
9) Disposable litter boxes with extra cat litter.
10) Plastic bags, paper towels and cleaning supplies.
11) Three-week supply of food and drinking water for each pet.
12) Manual can opener and food and water bowls for each pet.
13) Toys or blankets your pet will find familiar.
14) Towels and grooming items.
15) Detailed instructions for animal care and rescue workers.
16) Copy of emergency numbers and family evacuation plan.
17) Flashlight and batteries.
18) A simply plastic tub to carry everything for each pet helps organize in times when it is difficult to think clearly.
April is Pet First-Aid Awareness Month
The most crucial component to this is “Be Aware.” You want to know how to handle an emergency before the emergency occurs. Here are some tips for you from the American Red Cross to keep your pets safe and healthy as we head into spring and summer. Some common pet accidents include toxic ingestion, dog bites, high-rise syndrome, ripped toenails, foreign body ingestions with gastrointestinal problems, eye emergencies, broken bones, trouble giving birth and being hit by a car. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 25 percent more pets would survive if just one pet first-aid technique were applied prior to getting emergency veterinary care.
Heat Stroke: Something we all must pay close attention to here in Texas. Signs include heavy panting and being unable to calm down (even when lying down). Your pet’s gums may be brick red. They may have a fast pulse rate or may not be able to get up. What to do: Take your pet’s temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, cool your pet down. The easiest way is using a water hose. Stop cooling your pet when the temperature reaches 103 degrees. Bring the pet to the vet immediately as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.
Other Hazards: Open doors and windows can be hazardous to a pet. They may try to get outside, increasing the risk of falling from windows or being hit by a vehicle. Some plants and flowers can be hazardous (see my blog from March for a comprehensive list of poisons).
Choking: Here is a great video on how to help your pet if they are choking:
CPR: Equally important is knowing how to perform CPR:
Maddie’s Best Christmas
My sweet Maddie, rest in peace, finally mastered a grand feat. After many Christmases, we taught her to find her present. On this particular Christmas, I got four identical boxes. In all of them, I put a t-shirt with my husband’s scent on it. In one of them, was a vacuum-sealed package of tennis balls for her. I wrapped them in identical paper. It took her a few directions to snap to it. My husband was using aluminum foil in the kitchen and the sound of it threw off her concentration (so you hear my yelling to my husband in the kitchen). Not only does she find the right box, but she unwraps it, gets her nose into the box to get her present out, and then takes it to her lair (the chair). Enjoy!!!
November is Senior Pet Adoption Month
I know it is the end of the month already, but you don’t need to just adopt a senior dog in November. Senior dogs need good homes all year round.
This is Buddy, our senior dog, who has already passed on. He came to us very overweight. During his intake with a local golden retriever rescue group, he was called Jo Jo, but his foster mother thought the name Buddy suited him more. We decided to keep it.
My husband’s heart had been broken into pieces when our dog of 10 years, Sam, died. It took him about 18 months before he felt he was ready to risk the heartache again. It was very difficult for me because I telecommuted for my employer and I always had a dog with me. To me, my house was empty without a dog to love.
Buddy was a very calm dog. He didn’t ask for much. I think he may have been partially deaf.
One day Buddy did an amazing thing. We were sitting in our living room. My son was sitting on our very high bed in our bedroom watching something on our TV in there. Buddy came out of the bedroom and just sat, staring at us. This was very, very odd behavior. We asked him what was wrong, but he stood steadfast and determined. Unsure what the issue was, we got up and as we did, he got up and walked into the bedroom. Upon entering the bedroom, we saw that our son was having a full-blown seizure on the bed. One of us praised Buddy immediately while the other prepared the rectal Valium medication my son required to stop it.
Afterwards we had all these thoughts that if we hadn’t known he was having a seizure, he might have fallen off the bed and hurt himself, or worse–died from head trauma.
Buddy came to us heartworm-positive (but treated). I do not know if it contributed to his increased risk of congestive heart failure, but he developed this. When his heart could not pump anymore, he passed from us.
We only had him for a few short years, but they were wonderful years and we do not regret it. We hope that he felt the same about us. Not knowing his history or what his previous life might have been like, we know we gave him a loving home that was full of fun and wonderful things.
I hope this story inspires you to consider adopting a senior pet.
Dogs Prefer Men Over Women
This was an article that I got from Dr. Becker: “Results of a study on human-canine interactions suggest that dogs approach men more often than women.” (This from Relational factors affecting dog social attraction to human partners, Wedl, M et al, Interaction Studies, 2010):
To read more on this article so I don’t violate her intellectual property, please click here to go to the article.