Friday, August 26, 2011

4 Tips on Protecting Doggy from Heartworms

A couple of months ago, two of my dogs died because of heartworms. It broke my heart because I had no idea what it was until the second dog died.

The week before Twitch died, my sister had called about Goo (the sister of Twitch) who had just died that day- wailing in pain and after some while just dropping dead with blood coming out of her orifices. A week later, Goo had problems breathing and was heaving heavily. It was obvious that she was in pain but I did not know what to do with her as I didn't have any idea of what she was feeling. That night, I prayed that she would at least live another day so we can go to a vet, but it was futile. Thirty minutes later the inevitable happened. She sprawled to the ground without even making a sound and blood came out of her mouth.

I have other dogs aside from this Twitch under my care, so I took immediate precaution by bringing all of them to the veterinarian. She confirmed that heartworms were the obvious culprit but she could not confirm it because I did not bring Twitch for an autopsy.

So I dedicate this Q & A for pet lovers whose pets may have died due to this disease and hopefully to educated those who aren't aware yet.

What are heartworms?

Heartworms is also known as Dirofilaria immitis. They spend their adult life in the heart and large vessels connecting the heart to the lungs of dogs.


Where can heartworms come from?

There are more than 60 types of mosquitoes that can transmit heartworm larvae to our pets. Heartworms usually come from bites of mosquitoes that not only irritate our pet's skin, infect them with heartworms especially when they aren't vaccinated yet. In my country, mosquitoes are prevalent and the only way to increase the dog's immunity to this kind of problem is medication or vaccination.

Can humans get heartworms from mosquito bites?

Yes, they can. However, since humans have different immune systems compared to dogs, they are rarely cases of the worms propagating into our system. The usually die without further causing damage.

In some cases when one or more worms survive, they tend to migrate into the lungs or the heart. But they eventually die, unfortunately resulting to lesions, granulomas or nodes. This condition is called human pulmonary dirofilariasis, or HPD. Symptoms may include chronic cough, fever, fatigue or chest pain.

What are the symptoms that appear when a dog has heartworms?

These symptoms may appear early onset or not at all. My dog did not show these symptoms until hours before her death, so it's always better to just prevent it rather than wait for the worst case scenario to happen.

  1. Rapid Breathing
  2. Fatigue
  3. Coughing

How long can heartworms stay in the dogs body before it does its most damage?

The heartworm can travel to the heart withing a span of 3 months. In about 7 months after the infection, the heartworm's life cycle is done (which means it had fully developed, mated and lay microfilariae. For cats it takes 8 months for heartworms to complete these.

Here is a graphical description of a heartworms life cycle.


Can I be infected with heartworms if I touch an infected animal?

No. Heartworms cannot be transmitted any other way except through mosquito bites from an infected animal.

How can I protect my pet from heartworm infections?

1. Prevention is better than cure. Vaccination for heartworms are included in a dog's standard immunization regimen. So don't forget to visit a vet once you get a new puppy or dog. They usually recommend you to take the visit the moment a puppy is within 2 to 3 weeks of age. Heartworm prevention medication may come as a pill that is taken once a month (or daily) or as an injection.

It doesn't matter where your dog stays, inside or outside the house. It's always better to give them hearworm vaccination as a precaution.

2. Do the test. Vets always recommend that our pets be tested annually for heartworms.

And if your dog had the symptoms of a heartworm infection, never forget to have the vet test him because preventive heartworm medication may worsen his condition rather than make him better. Early onset of an infection is easier treated than later stages.

In treating a heartworm infection (NOT PREVENTION),Melarsomine (Immiticide®) is used. This medication contains arsenic which makes it more dangerous than the disease.

3. Shield the fortress. If your dog lives inside the house, you might as well place aluminum screens or snug screens to protect you and your pal from mosquito bites.

4. Lure and kill. In Asian countries , a mosquito trap is the most viable means of killing them before they do any damage.

US citizens prefer using a more organic approach of killing this pesky fiends. While creating a house for a purple martin bird may be time, effort and financially consuming, you will never regret doing so as they consider mosquitoes their dinner. You may have just saved your pets life by lowering the mosquito population in your backyard.


I hope this article has helped in informing you more about heartworms. Nobody deserves to experience the pain of losing a pet just because of not knowing what to do. Be informed, it may be what saves your pets someday.
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Monday, August 22, 2011

8 Dog Tips to Combat Mange

Has your dog ever experienced having mange? When I got my first puppy, Buchi, I picked him because he was the nicer of the bunch he was with. Little did I know that the reason he was probably fond of sleeping and resting when I got him was because of his mange. After a week since I got him, I noticed him scratching his body over everything- even his cage.

It breaks a master's heart to see their dog suffer with this kind of skin problem. I did not know he had sarcoptic mange. I also suffered with him because I had no idea what it was and I held him everyday when I got home from work. Eventually I had red patches of skin all over my extremities because these organisms are capable of passing through clothing. I had to bath myself with sulfur soap everyday for a month before it completely disappeared.
It was very traumatic. My skin had crusty flakes all over like thick dandruff (I know, sounds ICKY right!?!). I was growing bald spots when I should've been shaggy. My master changed my beddings everyday and bathed me with antifungal soap. She was hoping that I get even just a tad better with all her effort. She even bought me an 18 watt tiny electric fan because she learned that the mange becomes itchier in hot weather.

But after two weeks of antifungal soap, vitamins and antihistamines, it kept worsening. Until it came to a point that I had a small lesion in my eye because of my scratching (like a Corneal Ulcer).

My master decided to bring me to another veterinarian because the previous one just kept on assuring her that everything was fine but this happened.
For more information about this article, please refer to Itching Like Hell. The medications and actual expenses on how Buchi, my shih-tzu was treated is included there.

Not everybody is capable of affording the treatments such as this so here are some pointers in dealing with mange. First of all, do not assume what type of mange your dog has. It's always better to visit the vet. The above picture was what the vet showed me when I look through the microscope so they're that small.

1. Don't panic. Dogs are prone to mange. They have immune systems built to fight the internal body battle. If itching persist longer than a month, then it's time to got to the vet. Other indications that you must see a vet immediately include:
  • when your pet is starting to grow bald in certain areas
  • your dog's skin grows flaky (dandruff like )
  • The dog experiences severe itchiness that he scratches 'til he bleeds or his eye got damaged due to his excessive scratching or rubbing to objects that can ease it the itch.
2. Dip the dog. Some people prefer purchasing Lymdyp or Amitraz dip but this aren't really advisable for small puppies. There's an old concoction of Borax solution that's circulating in the web which is typically used by dog owners. The ingredients and procedures are as follows:
  • 16 ounces of hydrogen peroxide
  • 8 tablespoons of Borax (We've tried a number of hardware stores and supermarkets for this product and it was difficult to find. It'd probably be easier to buy Bayer Advocate because it's effective even for the worst cases of mange infestation)
  • 2 cups of water
Mix them up, get a clean wash cloth and apply it to the dog. Do not wash him, wait for him to dry in that dip. I've tried this once or twice but Buchi's condition had been far worst already. I was talking about Bayer Advocate earlier. It's not cheap (you may refer to this page for the my its Philippine cost: Itching Like Hell) but you can buy it at most veterinary clinics. It stands true to its claim:
Treatment and Prevention of Sarcoptic Mange. Advocate eliminates 100% of sarcoptic mange mites after a single dose.

If you have a puppy, then buy Advocate for Puppies. The picture here is the product for older dogs. Once this is applied, the medicine should stay on their backs for a week- no bathing or touching the medicated portion and getting wet is a no no, as well.

After the doctor applied it on Buchi's back, he experienced almost instant relief. IT'S THAT EFFECTIVE.

3. Housekeeping. Don't forget to have those old sheets cleaned. Mites travel so it's imperative to clean the surrounding area where your dog stays so he can have a fresh new mange-less start.

4. Forget us not. If you have other dogs, you should assume they already have it unless your absolutely sure mangy mutt (I say that literally) had been confined ever since the infestation started. Buchi was in a cage and he belongs with a family of mongrels or in Filipino terminology blue blooded "askals" so I just observed them if they showed signs of mange, thankfully, nobody ever did.

5. Fight the itching. Help your dog fight the itch by popping him an antihistamine. Dogs aren't humans so don't make a doctor out of yourself and prescribe him with human drugs. Veterinary clinics usually have antihistamines like dyphenhydramine (Benadryl for pets). Most likely, if you've brought your pooch to the vet, they'd probably recommend you to buy one inclusive with instructions on how to give them. The usual dose is one to three milligrams for each pound of pet.

6. Bring in the fatty. You can either put (just 1 tsp) olive oil in your dog's food everyday or give him vitamin E supplements.

50 PhP or approximately $1 for 10 cubes. For small breeds, the cube is split in half.

7. Feed me... well. Try to feed your dog quality dog food. Try to stay away from "junk foods", do away with the table scraps in the mean time. No feeding him pizza, or foods with artificial preservatives for awhile. If you love your dog so much, buy him a can of Royal Canin Recovery food. Add a tablespoon in every meal during this period and he'll surely be happy to gobble it all up. Don't forget to store it in the refrigerator once you've opened it.

Current cost is at 140 PhP but it really smells good. When my dogs got sick, this was the first thing vets recommended to be added in their diet.

8. Everyday is Spa Day. Lastly, keep your pooch pampered. Don't bathe him in a paranoiac pace (like everyday). But make sure he stays clean as much as possible. Grooming would include bathing him and brushing his hair.

Just a healthy reminder, sarcoptic mange is highly contagious to humans so be careful whilst handling your pet. You might get infected, as well. And trust me on this, it's as itchy as hell.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

8 Tips on Dog Jumping

Have you ever experienced being jumped at by your dog? Isn't it annoying at times especially when we're about to go out and they excitedly approach us and jump up at us? They jump at us when we go outside. They jump at us when we leave the house. They even jump up other people as well.

It is said that the jumping up behavior is one of the top complaint on dog problems. I, for one, am experiencing it with my mongrel Shark and it annoys me because he doesn't stop even when I do the knee trick. So I've searched a bit and found some tips that may help other fellow dog lovers having this issue with man's best friend.

Picture Reference: Ninja Pet

Don't get the dog excited. Sometimes dogs tend to get fired up when we approach them and show that we're hyped or excited to meet them. When you come home and he doesn't jump, give him a reward- a dog treat or a loving pat on the head will do.

Exercise. One way to lower your dog's high energy is to exercise him/her by walking them for at least 30 minutes a day. But not all of us has the time, right?If you can't walk the dog, playing with him may be enough. If you have a lawn, throwing his favorite squeaky toy or a ball so he can make a run for it is also good exercise. As much as possible, rough-housing should be avoided because the dog may think that you love doing it.

Don't get the dog started with the habit. At early stages of puppy-hood, it is best to avoid allowing them adopt the manner. He might eventually think it's a good think and will continue to do so. If the puppy jumps up at you, gently push him away and say "No" or "Off" firmly.

Avoid entrances. Try to situate your dog away from the door or the gate especially when you have guests. Even well trained dogs cannot resist the excitement of meeting more bustling people coming into the house. If you want to have him to greet them, make sure everybody's settled in.

Level with him. Whenever you approach your pal, try to lower yourself to his level so he won't have a hard time reaching up at you.

Let him talk to the hand. The next time your dog attempts to jump at you, spread your fingers and put your hand in front of his face but don't let it touch his face. Like humans, they dislike having alien hands touching their faces.

Back it up. If he attempts to jump up at you, take a step back. A dog's mind is prone to confusion and your action will most likely distract him, hopefully making him rethink his way of greeting as well.

Jingle the can. I've seen this in a lot of dog training tips in TV. What they do is take an empty can of soda, clean it up and put some quarters or pennies or something that can fit in the can's opening to make a rattling sound. Every time the dog jumps at you, jingle the can. It will serve as a distraction and an annoyance. Eventually, your pooch will understand that his jumping is not a desirable action and is annoying you as well.

Nudge him. I'm not sure if this is advisable for non-professionals but some people have been advising it as well. This is a last resort really. Once you see your dog running towards you or approaching to jump, slightly raise your knee so it's at the level of his chest. He'll eventually understand that your waist is a no-paw zone. Once he gets the idea, make sure you reward him with treats or praise.

Picture taken from:'s-Early-Training.html
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