Rumors about dogs that have been on monthly heartworm prevention all year round but have still contracted heartworm disease have been circulating for years. These cases are very difficult to confirm, however, because it is next to impossible to determine whether or not a dog truly received and absorbed its heartworm prevention on an appropriate schedule, particularly since the lapse in question would have occurred quite a while before heartworm positive results. It takes five or six months for the juvenile heartworms passed through the bite of an infected mosquito to mature into the adults that are responsible for a positive heartworm test and most clinical signs of heartworm disease.
An Alarming Study
Now, scientific evidence that supports the presence of resistance to certain preventatives in some populations of heartworms in the United States is starting to accumulate. In one study, researchers infected forty dogs with heartworm larvae from a strain called MP3 that were originally collected in Georgia and are known to be somewhat resistant to some types of heartworm preventative. Infected dogs were divided into five groups and treated in the following manner 30 days later:
- Group 1: oral ivermectin/pyrantel pamoate (Heartgard Plus)
- Group 2: oral milbemycin oxime (Interceptor)
- Group 3: topical selamectin (Revolution)
- Group 4: topical imidacloprid/moxidectin (Advantage Multi)
- Group 5: untreated
All treated dogs were given the label dosage of their respective medications based on their weight.
When the dogs were examined for adult heartworm approximately five months after being infected with heartworms the researchers determined that 100% of the untreated dogs and 87.5% of dogs in groups 1, 2, and 3 were heartworm positive. Dogs in the untreated group had anywhere between 34 and 70 worms in their hearts and lungs. Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution did prevent many of the larvae from developing into adult (dogs typically had only between 2 and 3 worms in their hearts and lungs) but only Advantage Multi was completely effective at killing the MP3 strain of heartworm larvae.
What This Means for Pet Owners
It is important to remember that the VAST majority of dogs and cats that develop heartworm disease do so because they did not receive a preventative heartworm medication every month all year round regardless of type. Nevertheless, owners should be aware that in some parts of the United States, certain populations of heartworms appear to be developing resistance to particular preventatives. If you live in the Southeast or Central regions of the United States, talk to your veterinarian about whether switching to Advantage Multi might be in your pet’s best interest.
Blagburn BL, Dillon AR, Arther R, et al. Comparative efficacy of four commercially available heartworm preventive products against the MP3 laboratory strain of Dirofilaria immitis. Vet Parasitol. 2011 Mar 10; 176(2-3):189-94. Epub 2011 Jan 1.
Albon (sulfadimethoxine) is a sulfa drug – a type of antibiotic that has been around for a very long time. But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still an incredibly powerful and useful tool in veterinary medicine. Albon can be used to treat infections throughout the body caused by a wide variety of susceptible microorganisms.
When you hear the term “antibiotic,” you probably think of medications that treat bacterial infections. While Albon and its relatives can certainly do this, they are also effective against a particular type of parasite called Coccidia. Coccidia infect the gastrointestinal tract, usually causing diarrhea in puppies, kittens, and other young animals.
When using Albon, veterinarians typically prescribe an initial “loading dose” that is twice that of subsequent doses. This allows the drug to quickly reach therapeutic levels in the body. A pet’s condition should noticeably improve within 48-72 hours of beginning treatment. If this does not occur, contact your veterinarian. Make sure to give your pet all of the doses of Albon that were prescribed, even if he or she seems completely back to normal. Treatment should continue for at least 48 hours after all symptoms have resolved.
Albon comes in both pill and liquid form available from vetdepot.com, which makes accurately dosing animals of all sizes easy.
Pets can get into a variety of dangers lurking around your home. Everyday items like gum, medications or flea control could potentially be fatal if ingested by your pet. The Pet Poison Hotline has put together lists of the Top 10 pet toxins for both dogs and cats. If you think that your pet has gotten into one of these potential poisons or any toxic substance, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680.
Top 10 Dog Poisons
- Insect bait stations
- Rodenticides (i.e. mouse and rat poison)
- Xylitol-containing products (i.e. sugar-free gums and candies)
- Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin® in brand name or generic form)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol® in brand name or generic form)
- Silica gel packs
- Amphetamines, such as ADD/ADHD drugs
- Household cleaners
Top 10 Cat Poisons
- Canine pyrethroid insecticides (topical flea and tick medicine designed for dogs but erroneously placed on cats)
- Household cleaners
- Paints and varnishes
- Veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Rimadyl®, Deramaxx®)
- Glow sticks/glow jewelry
- Amphetamines (such as ADD/ADHD drugs)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol® in brand name or generic form)
- Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin® in brand name or generic form)
Diabetes mellitus is a relatively common disease in dogs. Determining the correct dose of insulin, monitoring a dog’s response to therapy, and adjusting that dose accordingly can be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Recently, a team of researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria, showed that a commercially available glucose monitoring system that is used in human diabetic patients can also be used in dogs.
The biggest benefit of this system is that a dog can undergo monitoring in their home environment where its appetite, stress levels, and exercise routines can remain unchanged. All three of these factors can influence diabetic regulation. The study, which was published in Veterinary Record, showed that even dogs that were believed to be well-regulated were not being treated optimally.
Using the GlucoDay continuous glucose level monitoring system may eventually prove to be a big step forward in the treatment of diabetic dogs. In the meantime, using a hand held glucose monitor for dogs and cats is still the best way to check a diabetic pet’s blood sugar levels at home.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are a cornerstone in the treatment of canine pain. They can be used in cases of acute injury (i.e. trauma or post-operatively) and also for chronic conditions like osteoarthritis. Many different prescription NSAIDs have been developed specifically for dogs. These pet medications are much more effective and safer for canine use than are over-the-counter human medications like aspirin.
With so many choices, owners often wonder which NSAID is best for their dog. There is no one right answer to this question. Some dogs respond better to one product versus another, but there is no way to determine which is best without trying several. If your veterinarian prescribes a particular type of NSAID and your dog does well on it, there is no reason to make a change. However, if you are not pleased with your dog’s response to one brand, you should try one or two more before coming to the conclusion that NSAIDs won’t work for your dog.
However, switching between types of canine NSAIDs can be dangerous when done incorrectly. To lower the risk of unwanted side-effects like gastrointestinal ulcers, the first drug needs to be eliminated from the body before the second drug is introduced. This process can take around five days to be complete, so you should wait at least this long after stopping one type of NSAID before starting another and watch your dog closely for signs of gastrointestinal distress like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite when starting the new drug.
If your dog requires pain-relief during the five day wash-out period, your veterinarian can prescribe an analgesic that is not an NSAID, like Tramadol.