Pet Care

posted: by: CVVC Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

                                  Hamlet Still Wants You to Know The Importance of Pet Care!
Important FLEA Information
Fleas are something that many of us have to deal with at some time in our pet’s life.  Those pesky fleas cause us animals many hours of itching and scratching.  Sometimes they are hard to get rid of.  Here are some flea facts that might help you with this problem:
  • When a pet gets fleas, they have been in contact with a site of infestation, where flea eggs have fallen from an animal.
  • Potential sites of infestation may include indoors, garage, vehicle, pet carrier, storage shed, yard, neighborhood, dog park, doggie day care.  Wood floors are not a barrier.  The eggs can fit in the cracks and base boards.
  • An indoor infestation can be eliminated with monthly treatment of all the dogsandcats in the household.
  • Usually three or more monthly treatments are required to solve the problem.  The treatment doesn’t repel fleas, it kills fleas in stages.
  • If a source of fleas is outdoors, they will still see fleas on their pets.  Infestations outdoors may be impossible to eliminate.  In that case, monthly treatment should continue.  We also recommend other steps such as preventing access to under the porch, house, cleaning up yard rubbish, etc.  Crawl spaces are the perfect habitat for fleas to reproduce.
  • Once treatment starts, owners may see fleas for up to 8+ weeks.  The fleas they see on the pet are in the process of being killed, it’s not immediate.
  • The same flea is from many animals.
  • People can bring hitchhiker fleas into the home.
  • Screened porches are not a barrier.  Fleas can go through walls in apartments.
  • Fleas are not killed immediately. All fleas are usually killed in less than 24 hours (before eggs are laid).  Some fleas may survive longer.
  • New fleas will continue to jump onto pets from indoor and/or outdoor infestations. They typically will die before they can reproduce.
  • Missing a dose can result in the production of hundreds to thousands of eggs resulting in more fleas seen on the pet.
Remember one adult female flea can produce 40 to 50 eggs per day.We have different products available at Chemung Valley to help you with these problems: Frontline Plus kills fleas and ticks and Vectra 3D which repels and kills fleas, ticks and mosquitos. These products should be used on a monthly basis year round for the best results. For treatment in the house, we have a product called Knockout which is a spray. The spray can be used on furniture, carpets, hardwood floors, etc. Make sure you spray under as well as on top of furniture and near the baseboards. Remember to take pets out of the room and away from the spray for the time allowed to dry. Remember flea collars, dips and/or baths do not equal the use of monthly products and environmental sprays. Never use more than one product per month.

Important TICK Information
Tick control is a higher challenge than fleas.  No matter what you do, they keep coming back.  Ticks are annoying to people and their pets. There is not a tick free time.  Some times are worse than others.  Ticks are always in the environment and can cause irritation and blood loss. There is a growing introduction of new species and a natural spread of existing species in new areas. The biggest threat in our area is the Deer Tick which carries lymes disease.
  • Most ticks are acquired from outdoors.
  • In favorable conditions there can be 2-4 generations per year. The life cycle is most commonly 2 years.
  • Late spring to fall is when they are very active.
  • Larvae and nymphs peak in July and August. Adults peak in April, July, and September.
  • If there are rodents, deer, birds, or small mammals around, there are ticks.
  • Try to decrease habitat for wildlife reservoirs by removing leaves and pine needles, burn debris, removal of mulch and gravel and keep grassy areas cut short.
You need to try to control ticks year round.  Remember to apply products according to the calendar not when you see the ticks; by then it is too late.  No product is long term—ticks do come back.  Remember to treat all pets in the household year round.  We recommend Frontline Plus or Vectra 3D as protection against ticks.

How to Remove A Tick
  • Using tweezers, grasp tick near the mouth parts, as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull tick in a steady, upward motion away from skin twisting slightly to remove all parts of the tick.
  • DO NOT use kerosene, matches, or petroleum jelly to remove tick.
  • Disinfect site with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Record date and location of tick bite.  If rash or infection appears, contact your veterinarian.  Two to three weeks after the date of the tick bite, have a lymes test done at your veterinary clinic.

Information from Merial, New York State Department of Health, NAVC 2009 Conference



Heartworm disease, caused by infection with Dirofilaria immitis (a type of internal worm, commonly referred to as a heartworm, which typically infects dogs). It is nearly 100% preventable but in spite of the effective products available for prevention, this deadly parasite continues to infect and spread. That is why we recommend monthly Heartworm testing and monthly preventative such as Interceptor and Heartgard Plus.

                                             What is a Heartworm?

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a fairly large worm (up to 14 inches long) that, in adulthood, lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected dog.  Dogs acquire this infection through mosquito bites as mosquitoes readily pick up larval (baby) heartworms from infected dogs and carry them to new dogs.  Some geographic areas have severe heartworm problems while other areas have virtually none.  In order for the parasite to establish its presence in an area, the following conditions must be met:
  • Types of mosquitoes capable of carrying larval heartworms must be present.
  • The weather must be warm enough to allow heartworm larval development withing the mosquito.
  • There must be infected dogs (or coyotes) in the area.
  • There must be vulnerable host dogs in the area.
When these conditions come together, an area becomes "endemic" for heartworm disease.

Blood going to the lung to pick up oxygen is received first by the right atrium of the heart, then sent to the right ventricle (the pumping chamber) and then sent out to the lung via the pulmonary arteries.

The adult heartworm is fairly large, several inches in length, and it prefers to live, not in the heart, but in the pulmonary arteries. It swims into a cozy tubular artery, where it is massaged and nourished by the blood coursing past it. In the pulmonary arteries of an infected dog, the worm's presence generates a strong inflammatory response and a tendency for blood to inappropriately clot. If enough worms are present, the heart must work extra hard to pump blood through the plugged up arteries.

If the worm infection is a heavy one (over 25 worms for a 40 lb dog), the worms begin to back up into the heart's right ventricle (the chamber which pumps blood through the lung). The worms actually take up a significant amount of space within the heart, space that could have been taken up by blood. With less blood going through the heart, there is less blood being pumped out to the lung.

When over 50 worms are present, the ventricle is completely full and the atrium, the chamber receiving blood from the rest of the body, begins to fill with worms.

When over 100 worms are present, the entire right side of the heart is filled with worms and there is very little room for any blood to be pumped. This drastic phenomenon is called "Caval Syndrome" and most dogs do not survive it.

MICROFILARIAE (First Stage Larvae)
With adult male and female worms present, mating begins to occur. Heartworms do not lay eggs like other worm parasites; instead they give live birth and the baby worms are called Microfilariae. Microfilariae are released into the circulatory system in hope that they will be slurped up by a mosquito taking a blood meal and carried to a new host. Microfilariae may live up to two years within the host dog in whom they were born. If, after this period, a mosquito has not picked them up, they die of “old age.” Microfilariae may also be transmitted across the placental barrier to unborn puppies if the mother dog is infected with heartworm. It is important to realize that such puppies will not develop adult heartworms or heartworm disease from these microfilariae; in order for a heartworm to reach adulthood, it must be passed through a mosquito.

Parasitic worms have 5 larval stages and are termed "L1," "L2," "L3," etc. Heartworm microfilariae are first stage larvae: "L1's"

So, let us continue to follow the young heartworm's development inside the mosquito who has taken it in with a blood meal. Within the mosquito's body, the microfilariae will develop to L2’s and finally to L3’s, the stage capable of infecting a new dog. How long this takes depends on the environmental conditions. In general, it takes a few weeks. A minimum environmental temperature of 57 degrees F is required throughout this period. The process goes faster in warmer weather.

When a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, the L3 is not deposited directly into the dog's bloodstream. Instead, it is deposited in a tiny drop of mosquito "spit" adjacent to the mosquito bite. For transmission to occur, there must be adequate humidity to prevent evaporation of this fluid droplet before the L3’s can swim through the mosquito bite and into the new host.

Once safely inside the new host, the L3 will spend the next week or two developing into an L4 within the host's skin. The L4 will live in the skin for three months or so until it develops to the L5 stage and is ready to enter the host's circulatory system. The L5, which is actually a young adult, migrates to the heart and out into the pulmonary arteries (if there is room) where it will mate, approximately 5-7 months after first entering the new host..

Also note: because the heartworm tests on the market either look for microfilariae or for adult worm proteins, they will not detect infection with immature worms. This is why it takes 5-7 months from the time of exposure to get a valid heartworm test and this is also why there is no point in testing puppies under 5-7 months of age.


Do cats get heartworm?

The answer to this quesstion is an unequivocal "yes" but the feline situation is vastly different from the canine situation.  While it is true that the feline infection is not as common as the canine infection, the feline infection has recently been found to be a much more widespread problem than previously believed.  In the past, a common statistic presented was that within a given geographic area, the feline heartworm infections rate was approximately 10% of the canine infection rate. Recent research indicates this is not so; in heartworm endemic areas the incidence of feline heartworm infections rivals or surpasses that of feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus.  An incidence of 2-14% of all cats has been reported for endemic areas making heartworm a concern for any cat living where there are mosquitoes.

    The cat is not a natural host for the heartworm which means the migrating larval heartworm is not likely to complete its life cycle. The migrating worm uses molecular sign posts to tell it how to get to its host’s pulmonary arteries. The worm is prepared to read CANINE directions and may get lost in the feline body ending up who knows where. Most of the larvae that actually make it to the pulmonary artery die soon afterwards due to the massive immune attack from the feline body. Very few larval heartworms survive to adulthood in the cat.
    Whereas a moderate heartworm infection in a dog would involve 25-50 adult heartworms, infected cats typically have less than six adult worms. Because the feline heart and blood vessels are so small, these few worms can wreak havoc. In a dog, six worms or fewer might not be considered worth treating.
    In the cat, a single worm could easily represent a lethal infection.
    Whereas worms found in the canine heart can reach lengths up to 14 inches, the average length of worms found in feline hearts is only 5-8 inches.

    While an adult heartworm can expect to live 5 years in a dog, it will only live 2-3 years in a cat probably due to the cat's especially strong immune reaction.

Heartworm disease in the cat is caused by the    inflammatory reaction generated by the worm's presence.

In the dog, heartworm disease is mostly about
the obstruction of blood flow from the physical size of the worms.

Heartworm preventive medications are used to periodically kill larval heartworms that have managed to gain access to the dog’s body. At this point, the products available are intended for monthly use. This means that they kill all the heartworm larvae (stage “L3” and “L4”) that have accumulated in the past month each time they are given. Some products offer the ability to kill older larvae which helps keep the pet protected in case someone is late giving the heartworm preventive medication at some point. There are presently many choices, both topical and oral, plus, while the subject of this page is canine heartworm prevention, all the products discussed have feline formulations.  - February 28, 2009



 It is important to note that while a medication may be safe for children, it may not be safe for animals.  pets metabolize medications very differently from people.  Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets.  If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription medication, please call us at (607)734-5261 or Pet Poison Helpline's 24-hour animal poison control center at (800)213-6680 immediately. Please be advised there is a per incident fee for Pet Poson Helpline.

Always keep medication safely out of reach and never administer a medication to a pet without first consulting your veterinarian.

Below is a list of the top 10 human medications most frequently ingested by pets:

    NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin) Topping our Top 10 list are common household medications called no-steroidal anti-inflammatory which include common names such as ibuprofen, Advil, some types of Motrin, naproxen, and Aleve. While these medications are safe for people, even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet.  Pets may develope serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.
    Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) When it comes to pain medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) is certainly popular.  Even though this drug is very safe, even for children, this is not true for pets; especially cats.  One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat's red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen.  In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage.
    Antidepressants (e.g. Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro)  While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures.  Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.  Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill.  Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning.
    ADD/ADHD medications (e.g. Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin) medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate.  Even minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.
    Benzodiazepines and sleep aids  (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) These medications are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better   However, in pets, they may have the opposite effect.  About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate.  In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination (including walking "drunk"), and slowed breathing in pets.  In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.
    Birth control (e.g. estrogen, estradiol. progesterone) Birth control pills often come in packages that dogs find irresistible.  Thankfully, small ingestions of these mdications typically do not cause trouble.  However, large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression.  Additionally, female pets that are intact (not spayed), are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.
    ACE Inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace) Angiotensiin-converting enzyme (or "ACE") inhibitors are commonly used to treat high blood pressure in people and, occasionally, pets.  Though overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness, this category of medication is typically quite safe.  Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease.  All heart  medications should be kept out of reach of pets.
    Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) Beta-blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure but, unlike the ACE inhibitor, small ingestions of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets.  Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.
    Thyroid hormones (e.g. Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid) Pets, especially dogs, get underactive thyroids too.  Interestingly, the dose of thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a person's dose.  Therefore, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones at home, it rarely results in problems. However, large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.
    Cholesterol lowering agents (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor)  These popular medications, often called "statins," are commonly used in the United States.  While pets do not typically get high cholesterol, they may still get into the pill bottle.  Thankfully, most "statin" ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea.  Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use, not one-time ingestions.

By Ahna Brutlag, DVM, Assistant Director of Veterinary Services


With all the potentially toxic people foods out there, it's helpful to know which are safe for cats and dogs.  here are some Pet Poison Helpline-approved foods, which are both safe and low-calorie options for pets.

    Green Beans
    Unsalted, Unbuttered Popcorn
    Sweet Potatoes
    Ice Chips (Freeze cubes of diluted beef or chicken broth for a real frozen treat.)

There are 8 major people foods that are toxic to pets:

    Grapes, raisins, and currants  These fruits can cause acute kidney failure in dogs and may cause kidney failure in cats as well.  While not all dogs and cats will develop kidney failure, it's impossible to know which pets will be sensitive to these fruits.  Therefore, all pets that ingest grapes, raisins, or currants should be monitored closely and treated appropriately.  If a small dog or cat eats just a small number of grapes or raisins, this is considered an emergency.
    Chocolate  When it comes to chocolate, dark equals dangerous.  That's because the darker the chocolate, the larger the amount of theobromine (a cousin chemical to caffeine) it contains. Thus, baker's chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and gourmet dark chocolates are more toxic than milk chocolate.  White chocolate has very little theobromine and will not cause poisoning in pets.  The dose ingested determines the danger.  Pets that ingest a few M&M's or a bite of a chocolate chip cookie are unlikely to develop chocolate poisoning.  For milk chocolate, any ingestion of more than 0.5 ounces per pound of body weight may put dogs and cats at risk.  Ingestion of more than 0.13 ounces per pound of body weight of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may cause poisoning.  Almost any ingestion of baker's chocolate can result in poisoning and is considered an emergency.
    Caffeine Caffeine is most commonly found in coffee, coffee grounds, tea, tea bags, soda, energy drinks, and diet pills. Pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people.  While a couple laps of coffee, tea, or soda won't poison most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags, or one to two diet pills can easily be fatal in small animals.
    Onions, Garlic, Chives, and Leeks The small amount of garlic sometimes found in dog treats is unlikely to be harmful to dogs.  However, if cats or dogs ingest a tasty pan of sauteed onions, garlic, or leeks, poisoning may result.  The ingestion of large amount of garlic pills or powder may also cause poisoning.  Garlic was once thought of as a "home remedy" for flea infestations; however, it has been shown to be ineffective and is not recommended.
    Fatty Foods Fatty foods are found in butter, oils, meat drippings, grease, chocolate, and meat scraps.  Fatty foods may cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) when ingested, especially by dogs.
    Yeast-bread dough Uncooked homemade and store-bought bread dough that contains yeast.  The dark, warm environment of a pet's stomach acts as an oven and encourages the dough to continue rising.  This can result in a bowel obstruction or a bloated or distended stomach. This is a life-threatening situation that requires emergency abdominal surgery and treatment for shock.  As the yeast ferments in the stomach, it releases alcohol, which may lead to alcohol poisoning.
    Alcohol Alcoholic drinks aside, alcohol can be found in some surprising places. Rum-soaked cakes or candies and dressings containing alcohol may be poisonous to pets.  Alcohol is also a major byproduct of ingested yeast-bread dough.  Even small amounts of alcohol, especially when ingested by small pets, can cause life-threatening toxicity.
    Xylitol Xylitol is a common sugar-substitute used in sugar-free chewing gum, breath mints, candies, and baked goods.  It's also found in some smoking-cessation products like nicotine gum.  Xylitol can be purchased in bulk for cooking at home, and because of its dental plaque fighting properties, nontoxic amounts can be found in some pet oral-car products

If your pet ingests any of these products, induce vomiting and call us at 607-734-5261 or the Pet Poisong Helpline at 800-213-6680 right away.