Did you know that Monday, July 15 is Pet Fire Safety Day? This event, which occurs on the same date each year, hopes to increase awareness among pet owners that their furry housemates can start a fire causing severe property damage, injuries, or even death. All it takes is something as simple as knocking over a burning candle, bumping the on button on the stove, or getting into an ashtray that contains a cigarette not fully extinguished. The problem is significant enough to cause the deaths of approximately 40,000 house pets every year.

Fire Prevention When You Share Your Home with Pets

Prevention is always the goal when it comes to pets and fires. While you might feel silly getting down on your hands and knees, this helps you see your home from your pet’s perspective. From your vantage point, you should be able to spot dangers such as the height of your stove relative to your dog’s size or whether loose wires exist anywhere in your home. When using hot items such as a clothes or curling iron, allow it to cool off and then put it away immediately. Additionally, supervise your pet around fireplaces and burning candles at all times.

If your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm for every floor, now is a great time to invest in them. The alarm will alert you to the presence of smoke or fire immediately regardless of the time or your pet’s current whereabouts. While you hope that a fire never breaks out in your home, obtaining a window cling that states how many pets live inside and their species tells firefighters to look for your pets when fighting the blaze.

When you’re gone and your pet is home alone, consider placing dogs in kennels or cats in one room of the home with access to food, water, and a litter box. If you would rather not do that, place your pet towards the front of your home until you return. This makes it easier for firefighters to find him or her if a fire does break out. It’s also a good idea to do one last visual check to make sure your pet isn’t in close proximity to any potential fire hazards.

Make a Fire Escape Plan That Includes Your Pet

Fire is just one of several potential disasters that could cause the need to flee your home immediately. We recommend preparing a pet first-aid kit in advance and storing it with several servings of fresh food and water, toys, extra medication, and a leash and harness if you ever need to leave your home quickly. Having a disaster plan ready to follow should a fire occur will help increase the chances of everyone making it out safely, including your beloved pet.

Feel free to contact Battletown Animal Hospital if you would like additional fire safety tips or you would like to schedule an appointment for preventive care.

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Leptospirosis is a "zoonotic" disease - this means that it can spread from animals to people. Fortunately, a simple vaccination against leptospirosis can give you valuable peace of mind for the protection of your pets and family.

How does my pet get Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis can be spread through an infected animal's urine. If your pet digs in soil or drinks stagnant water where mice, rats, raccoons or other rodents have urinated, even months later, they may be at risk for developing this disease. Dogs tend to be more at risk of developing Leptospirosis, as infection in cats is rare.

What are the Symptoms of Leptospirosis?

The most common symptoms associated with leptospirosis include:

  • Frequent Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Discharge from eyes or nose

Treating and Preventing Leptospirosis

If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, we encourage you to call us at Battletown Animal Clinic. If your pet tests positive for Leptospirosis, often referred to as "Lepto", it's likely that our team will prescribe a course of antibiotics for your pet. You will want to avoid contact with urine, and keep other pets away from your pet.

If more advanced disease has occurred, your pet may require more aggressive treatment, such as anti-vomiting medication and intravenous fluids. When treated early, prognosis is good. Even with treatment, the kidneys and liver may experience irreversible damage.

If you have questions about Leptospirosis and your pet, please don't hesitate to consult with us for the best prevention plan.

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Although the heartworm parasite can survive all year long, it becomes even more prevalent in the spring and summer after being somewhat dormant in the winter. That’s why year-round parasite protection is so important. If you do not yet have a heartworm prevention plan in place for your dog or cat, just schedule an appointment with Battletown Animal Hospital and we will help you decide on the most appropriate product.

Understanding Heartworm Transmission

A heartworm is a tiny parasite that can live inside the body of an infected mosquito. Transmission occurs when that mosquito bites your pet. Reproduction can happen very quickly once the heartworm makes its way inside of your pet’s body. The heartworm that was originally microscopic in size can grow to more than 12 inches and reproduce dozens of times. 

Although it is far more common for dogs to acquire heartworm, the disease has a deadlier course with cats. We suggest that puppies can start using preventive products for heartworm by the time they reach eight weeks old. It isn’t necessary at this early stage to complete any other type of testing.

By the time your puppy reaches the age of six months, we will complete a heartworm test to make sure she is heartworm negative before continuing or changing preventive products.

Heartworm Testing and Prevention

It only requires a simple blood test to determine if a dog has heartworm.  The past recommendations for heartworm prevention was to wait until the early spring to start using it on your pet and discontinue it in the winter. The American Heartworm Association now advises pet parents to keep up with preventive medication or products continually throughout the year. This can help to kill other parasites besides heartworm.

Common Signs of Heartworm in Companion Animals

With cats, the primary symptom associated with heartworm infestation is difficulty breathing. This is due to the parasite living in their lungs. Dogs display more varied symptoms because the heartworm can live in the ventricles of the heart as well as the heart itself. Typical symptoms of canine heartworm include loss of appetite, fatigue, coughing, vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss.

Heartworm infestation is painful and sometimes deadly for your pet. It’s also a long and costly process to treat it. That’s the bad news. The good news is that heartworm infestation is entirely preventable with a product appropriate to your pet’s species, breed, age, and lifestyle. Your pet’s annual check-up is a great time to discuss your concerns about parasite prevention. We also encourage you to contact us if your pet shows any of the symptoms of heartworm disease listed above.

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Now that spring has arrived in the Berryville, Virginia area, your pets have new opportunities to become sick or injured due to the seasonal changes. At Battletown Animal Hospital, we recommend pet-proofing your home and yard now so you and your pet can simply enjoy the warmer weather without having to deal with a trip to the emergency veterinarian.

Spring Cleaning

Before you take out the household cleaning supplies, make sure your pet is secured in another area of the house. It’s also important to keep your cleaning supplies in an inaccessible area when not in use. Some contain highly toxic chemicals that could cause immediate illness in your pet if ingested. The Pet Poison Helpline especially warns people to keep their pets away from these products:

• Bleach
• Carpet fresheners and shampoos
• Fabric softener sheets
• Toilet cleaning tablets
• Vinegar

If you think your dog or cat has eaten one of these cleaning products, don’t hesitate to contact us for immediate help.

Outdoor Maintenance

Like household cleaning supplies, some lawn and garden products are especially harmful for pets. Chocolate mulch used for gardening and herbicides, fertilizers, and insecticides used for lawn health top the list. The most serious reactions include seizures and sudden death.

When you’re working in the garden, tending to your grass, or mowing the lawn, it’s safest to keep your pet inside the house until you finish. Be sure to read chemical product labels carefully to determine if you need to keep your pet away from the lawn or garden for an extended time after application.

Pets and Home Improvements Don’t Mix

If you’re planning a project such as a room addition or house painting this spring, make sure you know your pet’s location before you start. When your pet moves freely near your project, you could discover her trying to drink paint or with a nail stuck in her paw. It’s much better to keep your pet outdoors, in another room, or in a kennel until you’re finished working. 

Flea and Ticks Can Be More Than Pests

Tick bites can transmit serious illnesses like Lyme disease that can ultimately be fatal. Fleas usually just make your pet miserable with constant itching, but they can also cause a dangerous allergic reaction in dogs and cats sensitive to their saliva. We recommend year-round flea and tick prevention as for fleas, ticks, heartworm and other parasites. If you’re not sure how to choose the best products, just let us know.

What to Do in an Emergency

Dogs and cats can still get into mischief despite your best efforts at pet-proofing your home and yard this spring. If your pet has an obvious injury or you’re concerned that he ate something poisonous, please contact Battletown Animal Hospital during business hours at 540-955-2171. After hours, you may contact The Life Centre at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811. Both facilities are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Does the thought of worms make you cringe? What if you knew that certain types of worms are actually “zoonotic”, meaning that they can be transmitted to dogs, cats and people? Hookworms are one of these parasites that while common, are easily prevented and treated.

What do hookworms look like?

See here:

Yuck, right?

How are our pets infected by hookworms?

It’s actually quite common for puppies to be infected with hookworm. Hookworm infection can pass from a mother to her offspring, or through the environment. As puppies are out and exploring they may come into contact with soil containing hookworm larvae. Once a young puppy ingests the larvae, or if the larvae penetrate skin coming into contact with the ground, the chance of hookworm infection is high. It’s imperative that deworming medication is given to your puppy on a 2, 4, 6 and 8 week regimen.

How do people get hookworms?

Unfortunately, hookworm infection is possible in humans, and can actually be quite dangerous. Walking barefoot in areas where pets have defecated is one of the most common ways hookworms penetrate human skin. Since hookworm is zoonotic, it's also possible to pass to humans from an infected pet. Without treatment, hookworm damage can cause blindness and other damage to internal organs. 

How do I know if my pet has hookworms?

It’s a good idea to note changes in your pet’s behavior - and noticing signs of hookworm infection is one of these situations. Be on the lookout for the following:

  • Lethargy 
  • Weight Loss
  • Diarrhea (especially if dark or bloody) and/or Constipation
  • Poor Appetite

As these symptoms may be indicative of other diseases, it’s important to bring your pet into Battletown Animal Clinic to find out the cause of the symptoms your pet is experiencing.

What type of prevention do I have for my pets, my family and me?

For humans, simple hand-washing can go a long way in prevention of the transmission of hookworm. For our pets, having them on a heartworm preventive protocol is the most effective way to prevent infection. Heartworm preventives also kill hookworm, roundworms and whipworms. It’s easy to see how providing your pet a one time per month chew goes a long way in preventing several nasty parasitic infections, in ALL of your family members, both two and four-legged. In addition to monthly preventive medications, monitor where your pet is exploring, and keep them away from pooled water where hookworm and other parasites may be lurking.

Please feel free to call us anytime if you have questions or concerns regarding your pets' health. As always, we look forward to providing the quality health care you deserve. Call us to make your pet’s appointment today: (540) 955-2171.

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