Safety Tips for Using Heartworm Preventive Medications on Dogs

Posted by Mark Ferrell on

Keeping our dogs free of heartworms is much cheaper, easier, and safer than treating them for a full-blown disease. However, it is important that you use heartworm preventives properly — both for your safety and your dog's safety.

Consult Your Veterinarian First
It’s very important that you use only approved heartworm medications, in the correct dosage, for your dog’s particular age, weight, and health status. But before deciding to give a heartworm medication to your dog, ask your veterinarian for advice. A negative heartworm test is required to obtain a prescription for heartworm medication, so you will need to have your dog tested for heartworms first. Also, your veterinarian will only give you a prescription for a heartworm preventive if the dog is shown to have no heartworms (tested negative).

There are several kinds of heartworm preventive medications commonly used today. Many of these preventives have multiple benefits; some also control intestinal parasites as well as external parasites.

Oral Heartworm Medications
Common active ingredients used in heartworm preventives today include ivermectin and milbemycin. Ivermectin has been used for decades to prevent heartworm disease in dogs. There are rarely side effects, if given at the proper dosage, but some dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or incoordination. In the case of an allergic response to the heartworm medication, a dog may experience itching, hives, swelling of the face, or even seizures or shock.

Certain breeds of dog are at risk of having a reaction to ivermectin and milbemycin. These breeds include Collies, Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, and Whippets. This is due to a genetic mutation that causes them to be unable to clear the heartworm medication from their brain, bringing on seizures and even death. Your veterinarian can suggest alternative heartworm preventives for your dog if it is one of the breeds at risk. If you want to be completely sure, you can ask your veterinarian to perform a DNA test to check if your dog has the genetic mutation.

Topical Heartworm Medications
Newer topical or spot-on medications are available to prevent not only heartworms, but also fleas, ticks, mites, and more. Depending on the brand you choose, your dog can be protected from many parasites (internal and external), all in one monthly application. Selamectin and moxidectin work by absorbing into the dog’s skin and collecting in the oil glands under the skin. From there, the drug dispenses slowly over time, protecting the dog.

When applying these types of heartworm medications, you want to be careful not to get it on your skin or in your eyes. The fur in the area between the shoulder blades should be separated, to find the skin below. Apply the liquid directly to the skin instead of to the fur. Wash your hands after handling these medications (or wear disposable gloves so there is no skin contact at all). Label instructions should always be followed carefully. Keep your dog indoors and watch him for about 30 minutes following application. Children and other animals should be kept apart while the heartworm medication is absorbing.

Adverse reactions to these preventives are rare, but do occur. Possible side effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, panting, and trembling. Some dogs can have an allergic reaction to these types of medications, similar to the reactions seen with ivermectin. Hair loss at the application site has also been reported.

Injectable Heartworm Preventive
Another product that was first approved for use in 2001 in dogs is an injectable moxidectin product that works for six months as a heartworm preventive. It also kills hookworms with just one injection. This product was voluntarily recalled in 2004 and then re-introduced in 2008 under a risk management program in agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Veterinarians that offer this product must be registered with the manufacturer and be trained in its use before being able to purchase the product.

Only a veterinarian is allowed to inject this product, and only after you are given information about its risks and side effects. You must sign a consent form and veterinarians are required to keep records of each product’s lot number in case any side effects are reported. Adverse effects for this product can include facial swelling, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, or shock.

Other Heartworm Medication Safety Tips
Here are just a few more basic tips to consider when giving your dog heartworm preventives:

  • Check with your veterinarian for the proper dosage and type of heartworm medication to give your dog, before giving it.
  • Read all labels carefully before use.
  • Do not allow products to be within the reach of children or pets (e.g., keep them in a locked cabinet).
  • Watch your dog for side effects and call your veterinarian to report any problems.
  • Do not give your dog more than one type of heartworm preventive medication at a time.
  • Ask your veterinarian if your dog requires heartworm preventive all year long. This is an especially practical approach in the warmer climates, where mosquitoes are always present.
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Top 10 Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

Posted by Mark Ferrell on

Our pets love summer just as much as we do! For many, it’s the best time of year to be out, about, and enjoying all that the season has to offer.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking your pet out for picnics, hikes, swimming, or running, keep in mind that warm weather can be dangerous. It’s hard for pets to keep cool when the sun is beating down, and animals don’t sweat like people do. Dogs do sweat, but not very much, and it does little to cool them off. As you probably know, dogs more commonly cool themselves down through panting. When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool. Read on to learn some important summer safety tips for dogs.:

1. Never, ever, EVER leave your dog in a hot car
Okay, you’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s so important that we still decided to list it first. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES – for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your dog home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your dog with you when you leave the car.

2. Make sure your dog is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes
If not protected, your dog is at risk for heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other nasty and dangerous conditions. And don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people too!

3. Keep your dog's paws cool
When the sun is cooking, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. It’s also not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly (and they can fall out to be injured or killed in an accident).

4. Your dog should always have access to fresh drinking water and shade
Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down. Keep your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and cause heat stroke.

5. Give your dog his very own "kiddy pool”
Dogs who love the water, naturally love it even more during the hot months, and getting wet keeps them cool. Providing a small, kid-sized pool will go over big.

6. Don’t assume your dog can swim well
Just because dogs instinctively know how to swim, doesn’t mean they’re good swimmers. And if your dog jumps in your swimming pool, he might not be able to get out without help and could easily drown. Make sure your dog can’t get into your swimming pool without you around.

7. Dogs get sunburns too!
Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like with people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog).

8. If there’s no fence, keep your dog on a leash
Summertime means all sorts of exciting sights, scents, critters running around, and new and exciting places to explore. You never want to lose your dog because he became distracted in an unfamiliar environment. And remember, not every dog is meant to be off-leash; some dogs just can never be fully trusted to come when called. Make sure you understand your dog’s tendencies and err on the side of being overly-cautious.

9. Watch your dog’s weight
After a long winter, many dogs put on a few extra pounds. Summer is the perfect time to increase his level of exercise and get in tip-top shape. A pet that maintains a healthy weight throughout his lifetime will live, on average, 2-3 years longer than an overweight pet! Just make sure not to over-exert your dog. Talk to your veterinarian, give him adequate rest and if your dog is especially overweight, make sure you ease him into physical activity.

10. Keep your windows screened!
You may want your house to be ventilated, but you definitely do not want your dog jumping out!

Perhaps the most important tip is to pay attention to your dog – you’ll know when he seems uncomfortable. Summer can be a great time to spend with your dog, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind!

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Top 10 Dogs That Help Fight Depression

Posted by Mark Ferrell on

While we’d argue that any sweet and lovable dog will undoubtedly make you happier and less stressed, some breeds tend to be especially cheerful, affectionate, and optimistic. If you’ve got a case of the blues, a canine companion may be just what the doctor ordered. Think about it: dog owners spend more time outside, have increased LPD’s (laughs per day) due to their dog’s silly antics, and provide the most loyal friendship in existance.

Here are 10 particularly dopamine-inducing dog breeds who will bring sunshine to all your cloudy days. (Note: This list is by no means exhaustive. If it were up to us, we’d take all the dogs home with us!)

1. Labrador Retrievers
These mild-mannered dogs are always good for a smile. Loving, loyal, and family-friendly, these pups are so dependable and eager to please, they’re the number one service dog breed in the world.

2. Newfoundlands
These real-life teddy bears are big, calm cuddlebugs. Newfies were bred for water rescues, making them capable protectors when necessary; but they really just want to love you!

3. Golden Retrievers
These golden beauties seem to have  permanent smiles on their fuzzy muzzles! Known for their happy-go-lucky attitudes, affectionate Goldies don’t shy away from PDA (public displays of affection)!

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
These dogs are happiest when they’re on their loved ones’ laps! With a zest for life–and for spending time with their humans–these snuggly pups are sure to banish the blues.


5. Boxers

Try feeling down around these bundles of happiness! Boxers are cheerful by nature, and seem to have a playful spring in their step wherever they go. They want nothing more than to be your best pal!

6. Pugs
If their curly tails and bug eyes don’t put you in a better mood, their outgoing dispositions will. These silly pups live to make their owners happy, showering them with love and affection.

7. Chihuahuas
These portable pups are like happiness, to-go! Hate driving/flying/shopping alone? A purse-sized pooch makes for constant companionship. Good thing their favorite place is by your side!

8. Great Dane
Big dog = big love. These giants are notorious for their lapdog mentality, despite their giraffe-like stature. Great Danes are one of the sweetest, gentlest breeds out there.

9. French Bulldog
There’s a reason these little nuggets are so popular. With their big ears, wrinkly noses, and chubby bodies, these dogs are just begging for a cuddle and some play time with you!

10. Rescue Mutts
Of course this diverse bunch made the list! Whether from a shelter, humane society, or rescue organization, if you adopt a pooch, she’ll be forever grateful and spend the rest of her life thanking you with loyalty, affection, and love!


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Why Does Your Dog Lick You?

Posted by Mark Ferrell on

Have you ever thought about why dogs lick your face? What is the reason behind those endless showers of kisses? Here in this article you will know the truth behind it all.

There are too many reasons behind face licking, the first reason is that licking the owner’s face is a behavior that means the bond is so strong between you and your dog, he loves you. Dogs do this sometimes to welcome or greet their owner.

Another reason behind face licking, it’s because dogs love the salty taste of the human’s skin, and sometimes it’s because of hunger, when your dog needs some food, and it’s time for the meal, he will lick you. The most important reason of all is that dogs are enjoying your company, your dog loves being around you, licking your face is a way of showing love, so don’t stop your dog or push him away.

Well, who hates dogs’ licking? Who hates to feel the puppy’s love and miss the shower of kisses? And of course you heard someone who said before that dog’s saliva is full of bacteria, but read this article and share it with all who tells you this! Now we are about to have a scientific evidence that simply proves that they are very good for your health. So if you are a dog lick addict, be happy, it’s a very healthy thing. You have to know that now lots of studies are made to prove that the dog licks are healthy, so one lick of your dog a day will keep the doctor away.

Studies were made by Dr. Charles Raison who said that the dog’s saliva or simply the dogs’ kisses to their owners can act as a probiotic that effects the humans’ immune health.

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A Dog's Purpose? (from a 6-year-old)

Posted by Mark Ferrell on


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa , and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said, ''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good.

So, love the people who treat you right. Think good thoughts for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE...Getting back up is LIVING...

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