~~by Shari Coxford
There are several types of worms that dogs can become infected with including tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and heartworms. Dog owners might assume that as long as their dog is kept indoors or in a fenced yard away from other dogs, their dog cannot catch worms. This is a common misconception, especially if there are cats wandering the neighborhood.
As all of these worms can also infect cats, your dog may be at a bigger risk than you are aware of from worm infestations. Consider the cats that live in your neighborhood. Fences do not keep them out, and they are more likely to leave hidden feces that you don't see but that your dog will quickly find.
A worm-infected cat can easily contaminate your property or any area that your dog walks through. Even for an indoor dog, taking him out to potty can put your dog in contact with worms which are left behind by cats. Worms are spread in a variety of ways.
Tapeworms are spread by fleas and by contaminated feces. Your dog can catch fleas that are carrying tapeworms from an infected cat who drops a few fleas as he passes through your property. If your dog eats or comes into contact with feces from a cat with tapeworms, he will likely catch tapeworms.
Hookworms are even easier to transmit from animal to animal. Both dogs and cats can catch hookworms through the pads of their feet and then contaminate the soil and grass with their feces. There are three species of hookworms that infect dogs and they can live in the soil even after you've removed any infected feces. Your dog can catch hookworms by eating, walking on, or laying on contaminated dirt or grass.
To compound the worm problem even more, you cannot count on cold weather to wipe out the worm eggs. Both whipworm and roundworm eggs are transmitted by feces and can live in the soil. Whipworm eggs can survive for up to seven years in the soil, even in freezing temperatures. By eating dirt with eggs in it, your dog can catch hookworms and whipworms.
Heartworms are not transmitted in the same way as the other worms. They are transmitted by infected mosquitoes. If a mosquito bites an infected dog or cat and then bites your dog, he can catch heartworms from the infected mosquito unless he is on heartworm prevention. Thus, if any dogs or cats in your neighborhood are infected with heartworms, it is possible for mosquitoes to carry the heartworms from the infected animal to your dog.
Not only can dogs catch worms from cats, they can transmit worms to cats, which in turn can spread the worms to other dogs that live nearby. A single wandering cat can spread worms from one dog to another, even if the dogs have no direct contact with each other.
While you cannot fully protect your dog from exposure to worms, you can take steps to minimize exposure.
1. Promptly scoop all poop on your property including that left behind by cats and other dogs.
2. Avoid walking your dog through areas where other dogs and cats have deposited feces.
3. Keep your dog on heartworm prevention.
4. Control the mosquito population by not leaving standing water for mosquitoes to breed in.
As some worms can also be transmitted to humans, you'll want to ensure that your dog is treated for worms if he does become infected. Have your dog's feces checked by a veterinarian at least once a year. While this won't catch all worm infections, it will increase your odds of catching an infestation in the early stages.
Winter can be incredibly hard on a dog's paws. While a dog's paw does form a hard callus, this does not prevent them from the possibility of frostbite or dry and cracking feet. If you live in areas that suffer from particularly harsh weather, there are a few things you will want to do to protect your dog's paws during your winter season adventures. Even if your dog is a cold weather breed, these tips should be used to reduce the possibility of paw damage.
Chapped Paws Are Just Like Chapped Lips
The winter weather often leads to dryness, which can cause your dog's paws to split or crack. This can be extremely painful for your pet, but luckily it's entirely preventable. Special balms that are formulated for dog pads can be purchased online or at any pet retailer. All you need to do is rub these balms gently into your dog's paw pads on a regular basis. You may need to clip any loose strands of fur on your dog's pad before application, as paw pad balm is usually a thick and waxy material.
Dog Boots Take Some Getting Used To
Dog boots are also an excellent option for pets that need to go out during the winter season, but they do take some practice. You may want to start getting your pup accustomed to walking with their dog boots a few weeks before winter arrives. Dog boots need to be snug but not uncomfortable. You can test the fit of your dog's boots by gently tugging on them and seeing whether they shift. If your dog lifts their paws, whines or hesitates before walking, it is likely the boot is too tight.
Stay In During Extreme Weather
If the weather is cold enough that you hesitate before going outside, it may be too cold for your pet as well. When the weather has become very extreme, you may need to explore alternate options for your dog. You can consider placing down mats within your mud room or within your garage so your dog can relieve itself during the worst of the winter storms. As long as you create a specific area for your dog, your dog should understand that they are not allowed to go anywhere else in your home.
Many dogs absolutely love the winter season, but they aren't aware of the potential dangers. Like a child, your dog will rely on you to protect him or her against the brutal elements. By following a few simple tips, you'll be able to ensure that your dog can continue enjoying the snowy weather without any lasting damage.
A cat that’s lost interest in grooming is often a harbinger for a vet visit. There could be any number of reasons why the kitty isn’t being cleanly, but the most common are disease or aging. An aging cat can lose mobility, flexibility, and energy. So they may be in pain when trying to get the right angle for self-grooming. Or the entire cleanup process might just be too taxing on their circulatory systems. Have you ever just had one of those days where you were too tired to shower? It’s kind of like that, only you’re using your own saliva for moisture… so yeah, a bit more difficult.
Disease is the more threatening scenario. A lack of grooming accompanied by drooling or loss of appetite can signal gum disease. In this case, cats will quit grooming because using their mouths for much of anything is causing them pain
Aside from not actually seeing your cat making much of an effort to keep clean, you will notice an unkempt kitty via a few tell-tale signs.
- Greasy or matted fur
- Urine or fecal stained feet
- A smelly cat stench
- Or food caught in their whiskers or facial fur
Aside from aging or disease, your cat could be suffering from a trauma induced state of stress. This can cause a halt in grooming habits. It could be something like a move to a different location, the arrival of a new pet in the household, or any significant change in the cat’s routine. Since they are such resilient and independent creatures, it’s easy to forget that cats have their sensitive sides as well.
So what can you do for an unclean kitty? Well, a vet visit is always an excellent option. Trained veterinary professionals are adept at identifying problems and prescribing solutions. You may also consider helping your cat groom with a regular brushing. This can often be a therapeutic activity for both you and your cat, and it will encourage them to take up the habit again.
If you have a cat that’s stopped staying clean, be sure to examine it for other strange behavior, and work on getting them back in the habit of staying sanitary.
If you have a flea problem, you're probably trying to solve it the best way you know how. But fleas are tough to get rid of. They're resilient little critters. Here are three things many people don't know about fleas. The more you know about them, the more likely you are to get them under control.
Okay, they don't really play dead. They don't whisper to each other, "Here she comes!" and fling themselves down on the carpet with their legs in the air. But a wet flea can appear dead, because it's immobilized. Many times a pet owner will use ordinary shampoo--not flea shampoo--on a pet, and afterward, the fleas seem to be dead. Since the fleas are not moving, the owner decides plain shampoo kills fleas.
But those fleas are not really dead. When a flea has been thoroughly soaked with water, it won't move--but once it dries out, it will spring back to life. You can test this yourself. Just pick a few immobilized fleas off your pet after a bath with ordinary shampoo. Put them in a baggie and seal it shut. Set the baggie down, and go off and do something else for a few hours. When you come back and check, you'll probably see the fleas moving inside the bag--back from the dead.
Fleas Will Wait for You
Sometimes, people think they can solve a flea problem by removing pets from a flea-infested house for a while. Maybe you are leaving your summer home to go back to the city, or you have a vacation house that you won't return to for months. You assume the fleas will starve to death.
It doesn't work that way. Fleas come in different stages of growth: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Some immature fleas can lie dormant for a year or more and can survive winter temperatures. They don't hatch until they sense vibrations--like vacuuming, or people and pets walking around--or carbon dioxide given off by a passing animal. So when you return to your summer house, even after months away, the fleas hatch out and attack.
Those Brown Specks Are Not Flea Eggs
A severely flea-infested pet will be covered with little reddish-brown specks. Many people assume these specks are flea eggs, but they aren't. Flea eggs are white and look like salt. The reddish-brown specks are flea feces, also known as flea dirt. If your pet and his bed look like they've been sprinkled with salt and pepper, you're seeing flea eggs and flea dirt.
Because fleas eat blood, their feces are basically just dried blood. If you get the pet wet, you can tell if your pet is covered with flea dirt or is just plain dirty. Regular dirt makes bathwater brown; flea dirt dissolves in water and makes bathwater red. A pet owner who washes a pet covered in flea dirt sometimes thinks the red water means Patches or Butch is bleeding from flea bites. Actually, the red color of the water is the result of dissolved flea dirt. It's good to know what's really going on if you find yourself startled by red rinse water.
So, there you have it: three things you might not have known about fleas. When it comes to fleas, understanding them can make all the difference in beating them.