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Heartworm Disease
What is the Life Cycle of the Heartworm?

The tiny immature heartworms are transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. The adult heartworms eventually, will occupy your dog’s heart. As the worms grow and reproduce, more immature worms are released into your dog’s bloodstream. When other mosquitoes bite your dog they pick up these new immature worms and transmit them to the next dog that they bite.

Is Heartworm Disease Serious?

Yes, it’s very serious. Heartworms interfere with the normal flow of blood from the right side of the heart to the vessels serving the lungs. If left untreated, canine heartworm disease can result in congestive heart failure, considerably reduce your dog’s quality of life, and ultimately lead to death.

What are the Signs of Heartworm Disease?

At first an infected dog may show few signs of infection. As the heartworms grow and mature, they cause increasing damage. Your pet may become listless, tire easily after exercise, develop an occasional or persistent cough, and become anemic.


Dogs should be tested before starting heartworm prevention, unless they are under 6 months of age. There are several different types of heartworm preventative medications. By giving your pet a once a month prevention, you can prevent heartworm disease! Heartworm prevention will not treat an existing adult infection. Prices can be as low as $5 per month. Heartworm medications also protect against hookworms and roundworms. It is recommended by the American Heartworm Society that heartworm prevention be used year round.

About Fleas

Fleas are very serious pests in Texas, expecially during the summer months, but very often persist all year when indoors.  Adult fleas are not only a nuisance to humans and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), tapeworms, secondary skin irritations and, in extreme cases, anemia (severe blood loss which - can be fatal!).  Also, fleas may transmit bubonic plague from rodent to rodent and from rodent to humans (YES!! Bubonic plague still exists in the United States - and fleas spread it).  Flease can transmit endemic typhus among rats and from rats to humans.  Tapeworms normally infest dogs and cats, but may appear in children if parts of infested fleas are accidentally consumed.

Life Cycle and Habits

Fleas pass through a complete life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult.  Completion of the life cycle from egg to adult varies from two weeks to eight months.  Normally after a blood meal, the female flea lays about 15 to 20 eggs per day up to 600 in a lifetime usually on your pet, or you!  Eggs loosely laid in the hair coat drop out most anywhere especially where your pet sleeps (carpets, furniture, kennels, etc.).  Eggs into Larvae found indoors in floor cracks & crevices, along baseboards, under rug edges and in furniture or beds.  Outdoor development occurs in sandy gravel soils (moist sand boxes, dirt crawlspace under the house, under shrubs, etc.) where the pet may rest or sleep.  Adult fleas may live from two months up to one year.

Control Measures

Flea control is best achieved with a simultaneous, coordinated effort involving strict sanitation, pet treatment and premise treatment (both indoors & outdoors).  For successful flea control, infested pets and the premises need to be treated at the same time.  There are many shampoos, dips, sprays, collars, spot-ons and monthly tablet treatments.  The most effective treatments are available only through licensed veterinarians.  

We are recommending Trifexis and Comfortis for dogs and Revolution for cats.  Be advised that most flea collars and store bought treatments cost almost as much as prescription products, rarely are effective, and can kill or cause serious illness especially in cats and small dogs.

What is pyometra?

In its simplest terms, pyometra is an infection in the uterus.  Infection in the lining of the uterus is established as a result of hormonal changes.  Following estrus ("heat"), hormone levels remain elevated and thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy.  If pregnancy does not occur for several estrus cycles, the lining continues to increase in thickness until cysts form within it.  The thickened, cystic lining secretes fluids that create an ideal environment in which bacteria can grow.

How do bacteria get into the uterus?

The cervix is the "doorway" to uterus.  It remains tightly closed except during estrus ("heat").  When it is open, bacteria that are normally found in the vagina can enter the uterus rather easily.  If the uterus is normal, the environment is adverse to bacterial survival; however, when the uterine wall is thickened and cystic, perfect conditions exist for bacterial growth.  In addition, when these abnormal conditions exist, the muscles of the uterus cannot contract properly.  This means bacteria entering the uterus cannot be expelled.

What are the clinical signs of a pet with pyometra?

The clinical signs depend on whether or not the cervix is open.  If it is open, pus may drain from the uterus through the vagina to the outside.  It is often noted on the skin or hair under the tail or on bedding and furniture where the pet has laid.  Fever, lethargy, anorexia and depression may or may not be present (this is often the case at our facility, where owners have elected to have their pets spayed for other reasons!).

If the cervix is closed, pus that forms is not able to drain to the outside.  It collects in the uterus causing distention of the abdomen.  The bacteria release toxins which are absorbed into circulation.  These pets often become severely ill very rapidly.  This condition is life threatening.

How is it treated?

The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries.  This is called an ovariohysterectomy ("spay").  Pets diagnosed in the early stage of the disease (before they show outward signs of illness) are good surgical candidates.  The surgery is more complicated than a routine spay.  Antibiotics must be given after surgery.
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