Have a Heart: Prevent Heartworm

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Your pet offers unconditional love, so shouldn’t you do your best to take care of his or her heart?
Cats and dogs can become infected with heartworm from mosquito bites. All cats and dogs are susceptible to heartworm, no matter their age or state of health. It is important to protect your pet regardless of where you live as heartworm disease has been found in every state.
When an infected mosquito bites a pet, it transmits heartworm larvae, which mature into long adult heartworms that can live in the heart and surrounding vessels for several years. The number of heartworms living within the heart can be astounding; up to 250 heartworms have been found in a single dog. Pets treated for heartworm don’t develop immunity and can be reinfected at any time by another mosquito bite, so prevention after treatment is essential.
While many pets don’t display symptoms in the early stages, a dog with heartworm disease can show signs including: coughing, fainting, weight loss or difficulty breathing. If left undetected and untreated, heartworm disease can cause sudden death by blocking blood flow to the heart. In dogs, heartworm treatment involves slowly killing the worms without harming the pet. Cats tend to have fewer worms, but their effect can be just as devastating. Currently, no heartworm treatment exists for cats.
Luckily, heartworm disease is completely and easily preventable. Administering an oral monthly heartworm preventative, or having your veterinarian give an injection every six months, will kill immature heartworms before they mature and are able to inflict damage to the pet.
The experts at Banfield Pet Hospital (www.banfield.com) suggest pet owners get their pets tested for heartworms and then discuss prevention or treatment if necessary. The test is quick and simple and requires only a drop of your pet’s blood. Only a veterinarian can prescribe heartworm preventive, and he or she will make sure your pet gets the appropriate protection.
For more information, visit www.banfield.com.

‘Tis the Season to Help Hungry Pets and Their Owners

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – During a tough economic climate, it can be a stressful time for many homebound seniors, if not for their pets. Many seniors, when strapped for resources, choose to feed their pets instead of themselves. This means neither the pet owner nor the pet get the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
To keep both pets and their owners fed, Banfield Pet Hospital and the Banfield Charitable Trust (BCT) partnered with the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA), which provides home-delivered meals to people in need, to create a pet-feeding program called Season of Suppers, which is now in its fifth year. As part of the program, more than 760 Banfield locations are collecting pet food and monetary donations to help homebound seniors feed their pets.
Despite the current economy, the BCT hopes to collect 40 tons of pet food and raise $100,000 to fund pet food distribution programs, which is an increase from last year.
Season of Suppers does more than provide meals. The funds it raises each year help sustain and expand pet-feeding programs throughout the country. As a direct result of the Season of Suppers campaign, more than 100 pet-feeding programs have been funded or received much-needed support.
Season of Suppers runs until Dec. 31. There are three ways to help feed hungry pets this year:
1. Purchase pet food and place it in the Season of Suppers donation bin in any Banfield Pet Hospital (located inside PetSmart). The BCT suggests items that are easy to transport, such as small bags and cans.
2. Donate money at any Banfield Pet Hospital in the Season of Suppers donation box. To find your nearest Banfield location, visit www.banfield.net
3. Contribute online by visiting www.BCTSOS.org and clicking the “donate now” button. Your donation of $30 will help feed one pet for an entire month.

Fleas and Ticks Pose Problems for Pets

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – It happens every summer — your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, whether he is playing, hiking or camping, only to end up with swollen ticks on his ears or belly hours later. But parasites, such as fleas and ticks, are not just a summer menace. They can infect pets at any time.

Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK), Banfield Pet Hospital’s (www.banfield.net) internal research team, recently reviewed more than 2.2 million health records obtained from dog and cat visits in 2009. Fleas are the most common parasite in kittens under six months, middle-aged dogs and senior dogs and cats. Their research also shows that May is the peak season for ticks, and October is the peak season for fleas, making parasites an ongoing concern for pet owners.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease, which is carried by ticks, is the most commonly reported vector-transmitted disease. And research suggests that dogs are twice as likely to develop Lyme disease as humans living in the same area.

Parasites are more than annoyances — they spread disease, not only to your pets, but to other members of your family as well. Fleas and ticks “are responsible for potentially severe allergic reactions, tapeworm infections and can cause severe anemia and death in young, sick or debilitated pets,” explained Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, MS, DACVIM, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield.

Preventing fleas and ticks is a critical part of a pet’s health care, but pet owners should speak to their veterinarian before attempting treatments.

“Flea and tick preventive care products, like powders, sprays and spot-on treatments, offer varying degrees of efficacy and safety. Additionally, the huge number of products available can make selecting the proper preventive care product overwhelming to Pet owners,” said Karen Johnson, DVM, vice president and client advocate for Banfield.

Getting flea and tick products directly from your veterinarian helps ensure pet safety, as veterinarians instruct pet owners in proper dosage and application. Pet owners should also ask veterinarians about flea and tick products approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as FirstShield.

“At Banfield, preventive care is the cornerstone of our practice — that includes everything from routine vaccines and twice-annual comprehensive physical examinations to recommending the safest and most effective flea and tick preventive product that is right for the pet and their family,” said Johnson.

For more information, visit www.banfield.net.