Monday, February 8, 2016

PET HEALTH TIP #15- Intestinal Parasites

Several intestinal worms infest dogs.  The most common intestinal worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.  The one most commonly seen by the owner is the tapeworm.  It looks like a small grain of rice.  The dog is not actually passing the whole worm.  It is passing an immature worm that breaks off the mature worm.  The mature tapeworm can be several inches long and is flat.

Occasionally, if the worm burden is high enough, the owner may also see roundworms in the stool, or the dog may vomit up the roundworms.  These are long spaghetti-shaped worms.  However, most of the time the dog only passes the roundworm, hookworm, or whipworm eggs, which are microscopic.  Therefore, you will not see the worms themselves.

Symptoms of intestinal parasite infestation include: weight loss (or failure to gain weight) and loose stools.  Occasionally, in small puppies, high worm burdens can cause vomiting.  Hookworms can also cause bloody stools.

Another common intestinal parasite is Giardia.  This is not a worm, but is a protozoa.  Dogs with Giardia infections usually have very loose stools to runny diarrhea.

Puppies will often have multiple infestations.  It is common for them to have roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and Giardia all at the same time.  Therefore, it is very important to deworm puppies.  Typically, your veterinarian will deworm your puppy at the same time he receives his vaccinations.  Dog breeders will start deworming puppies as early as a couple of weeks of age.
Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and Giardia are all transmitted fecal-orally through the ingestion of the eggs.  The infested dog will pass the eggs in his stool and then the next dog usually picks the eggs up on his feet.  Then, when he groom himself, he ingests the eggs.  The eggs then mature into adult worms.

Tapeworms are transmitted by the flea.  Dogs typically get tapeworms from biting at the fleas that are biting them.  They accidentally ingest the flea, and the immature stages of the tapeworm are released and mature into adult tapeworms.  Cats often become infested with tapeworms by eating a rodent (rat or mouse) that has fleas.

Most heartworm medications also contain medication that will kill roundworms and hookworms.  So, you are giving them a monthly heartworm and intestinal worm treatment with each monthly dose.

Tapeworms are not killed by most heartworm medications.  Also, most over-the-counter medication do not kill tapeworms.  If you see evidence of your pet passing tapeworms, it is important to make sure you are using a deworming medication that kills them. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

PET HEALTH TIP #14- Ear Mites

Dogs and cats are both susceptible to ear mite infestations.  However, the most common victims are kittens.  Ear mites are microscopic creatures.  Under the microscope, they resemble a tick.  These little creatures will set up residence inside the kitten’s ear canal.  The mites crawl around inside the ear causing the kitten constant irritation.  The most common symptom your kitten will demonstrate is constant scratching and digging at her ears.  She will also shake her head a lot.  Ear mites feed on dead skin, so they don’t cause damage to the ear.  However, the kitten’s constant scratching can cause damage to the sensitive skin inside the ear, which can lead to a secondary bacterial infection.  Another symptom associated with ear mites is a build-up of black debris that has a gritty quality.  It has a consistency similar to sand.  This build-up is essentially mite waste.

Ear mites do not infest humans.  However, as I said, they will infest both dogs and cats.  It is common to have more than one animal in the household affected.  The treatment is simple and involves thoroughly cleaning the ears and applying medication.  It is important to consult your veterinarian for treatment options.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

PET HEALTH TIP #13- Ringworm

I have had several people over the years ask me if ringworm is really caused by worms.  The answer is no.  Ringworm is caused by a fungal infection.  Only a few diseases can be spread from one species of animal to another or from animals to people (zoonotic).  Ringworm is one of the diseases that can be contagious between species.  Cats and dogs can give ringworm to each other, and both of them can give it to people.

In humans, ringworm causes a lesion on the skin that is usually circular and very itchy (pruritic).  In dogs, it causes patchy hair loss (alopecia) that can occur anywhere on the body.  The skin in the area of the alopecia is usually flaky. Unlike humans, dogs are usually not pruritic.

Cats are the tricky ones.  Some cats will have patchy hair loss.  Usually, the hair loss is localized around the mouth, eyes, and on the ears.  However, there are cats who are asymptomatic, which means they have the fungus on their fur, but don't have any lesions.  These cats are still contagious!  So, if you suddenly come down with a ringworm lesion and you recently had contact with a cat, the cat was probably the source, even if it appeared healthy.

The fungus that causes ringworm can also survive very well in the environment, including the dirt.  The fungal spores can also travel through the air and hide in places, like air conditioning ducts, for long periods.  It is extremely difficult to get rid of ringworm once it has entered an environment.  The fungus is very susceptible to household cleaners.  So, it is pretty easy to kill it on cleanable surfaces.  The problem areas are the places we don't usually clean or are difficult to clean, such as furniture or air ducts.

If your pet is diagnosed with ringworm, limit the areas he has access to and keep him isolated from other pets and children.  Ringworm is a treatable disease, but as I said, it is difficult to eliminate it from your environment once it’s there.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Enter a giveaway to win WOUNDED HEARTS

I'm giving away 2 autographed copies of my newly released western romance novel WOUNDED HEARTS on Goodreads. Giveaway ends JANUARY 16. Enter to win today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wounded Hearts by Blli Tiner

Wounded Hearts

by Blli Tiner

Giveaway ends January 16, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #12- Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Several great flea control products are on the market.  However, flea allergy dermatitis is still a major problem for dog and cat owners.  Three common factors contributing to that are: 1- Failure to properly apply flea control products.  2- Extreme sensitivity to fleabites.  3- Failure to treat indoor pets.

First, let's talk about the failure to properly apply flea control products.  Often owners don't understand when and how to apply the topical flea control products.  A good rule of thumb is to remember to wait at least two days after a bath before applying the product and to wait at least two days after applying the product before giving a bath.  The products use the oil glands associated with the hair follicles for absorption into the skin.  Most shampoos strip these glands of their oil. Therefore, waiting a few days after the bath will allow the oil glands to replenish.  By the same token, it takes a few days after applying the product before it is completely absorbed into the skin. Therefore, the product needs time to absorb before allowing your pet to get wet.  This two-day rule also applies to swimming.  If your dog is a frequent swimmer, then I suggest using an oral flea control product and avoiding the topical products altogether.

Another application error is failure to apply the product directly to the skin.  To apply properly, part the hair, put the end of the tube against the skin, and then squeeze out the liquid.  Don't touch it!  I have had several clients who have told me they "rubbed it in."  Don't!  That only takes the product off your pet and onto you.  Also, with cats, it is important to apply it to a part of the head they can't reach with their tongues.  Cats are notorious for bathing the products off.

Another possible reason for your pet’s flea allergy dermatitis is that some dogs and cat are extremely sensitive to fleabites.  Some animals are so allergic that one fleabite can cause them to itch for an entire week!  Therefore, you may never see the flea that is causing the allergy.  It is essential to limit the amount of time these animals spend outside in order to limit their possible exposure to fleas.  Also, it is especially important to keep them on a flea control product all year round.

Finally, a common mistake I see pet owners make is to only treat their outdoor pets and not the pets that live indoors.  I see this most often with owners who have indoor cats and indoor/outdoor dogs.  They treat the dogs for fleas, but not the cats. The problem with that is the fleas will hitch a ride on the indoor/outdoor pet.  Once they get inside, they will jump off the animal that has been treated and onto the one that hasn’t.

Diagnosis of flea allergy dermatitis is pretty straightforward.  Typically, a distinct pattern of hair loss and redness of the skin appears on the animal’s rump.  The pets are usually very pruritic (itchy) and will bit and scratch at the base of the tail.  If your dog is showing these symptoms, then it is almost certainly fleas.  Look very carefully, and you may spot one.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

WOUNDED HEARTS is NOW Available!!!

I'm happy to announce that "Wounded Hearts," the third book in the Sand Hill Romance Collection is now available!! The print edition is coming soon!


Hawk has spent his life dealing with hatred, at the hands of his stepfather as a boy, then later, the white men who hate him for being half Indian. Years of being an outcast have hardened his heart and darkened his soul. He stays away from civilization as much as possible, preferring to live a life of solitude. 

Suzanna Brody is a schoolteacher in the small western town of Sand Hill. She likes her life, but she secretly longs for a family. At the ripe old age of twenty-two, she’s all but given up hope. Having grown up in an orphanage, she’s never known what it was like to be a part of a loving family. 

A chance meeting brings these two broken-hearted people together. They are immediately drawn to one another. When Hawk is accused of a crime, Suzanna is ready to stand by his side. Will her love be enough to save him? 

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #11- Hot Spots

"Hot spots" are localized bacterial skin infections usually caused by Staphylococcus spp. Typically, the skin becomes inflamed and the bacteria that are normally found on the skin invade and cause an infection.  You will notice an area of matted fur or a lesion that is oozing pus.  The skin will be very red and inflamed. Often the lesion appears very suddenly and progresses quickly.

There are 3 common causes of the initial inflammation of the skin:

1) Moist skin- The skin becomes moist due to a bath, swim, or heat.  If the dog has dense fur, then this area doesn't dry properly and the moist skin becomes inflamed allowing the bacterial invasion.

2) Fleas- The skin becomes inflamed from either the flea bites or the dog scratching.

3) Ear infections- Often times a hot spot will develop under the ear due to either the dog digging at his ear or from the discharge coming out of the ear.

The main treatment for “hot spots” is to allow the skin to dry.  First, shave the fur from around the lesion.  Once the fur is removed, then the air can circulated over the skin and dry it out.  The next step is to thoroughly clean the area.  Most of the time the dog will also need oral antibiotics in order to heal the infection.

"Hot spots" can spread very rapidly.  They are extremely painful and can cause nasty looking lesions.  It is important that you get the "hot spot" treated as soon as you notice it.