Heartworm Test Results Now Below Detectable Limits, Not Negative!

antigen test resultsIn 2012 the American Heartworm Society (AHS) changed its guidelines on how Vets should report heartworm antigen test results.

Previously, results were either positive or negative, now the guidelines say that if the test does not detect the presence of worms, a result of “Below detectable limits” (BDL) should be reported. Why is this?

The current heartworm antigen test can only detect adult worms if at least one mature female is present. To date, there is no test capable of detecting the presence on only male worms.

False positive and false negative test results can occur. This is why if a positive test result is obtained, further tests will be done before treating a dog with immiticide – particularly if the dog is not exhibiting any symptoms. This could be done by X-Ray or ultrasound or testing the blood for circulating microfilariae.

False-negative tests can occur if the female worms are not mature enough to produce young or if only male worms are present. This is why the advice has been changed to report a BDL result instead of negative. Continue reading

DAP Diffuser Collar Or Spray To Calm and Soothe Your Dog

DAP Could Help Keep Your Dog Calm and Relaxed

DAP is secreted in the milk of nursing mothers for their puppies

DAP is a natural pheromone secreted in the milk of nursing mothers to help their puppies feel safe, secure and calm

How to reduce stress and keep a dog quiet and calm are topics I have received many questions from worried owners about. Their lively, boisterous, energetic dogs have had to undergo Immiticide treatment after a positive test for adult heartworms and now having to keep them quiet and confined for their own safety is causing major problems.

As explained in my heartworm aftercare article, it is imperative to keep the dog very calm and quiet after treatment, whilst the Immiticide does its job and the worms get killed, broken up into smaller pieces and expelled from the heart and the arteries where they have lodged. If the pet gets excited, running, jumping or playing , or stressed or distressed enough to raise the heart rate, this could result in the dead bits of worm being expelled too quickly and causing a blockage in the pulmonary artery – which could result in a pulmonary embolism and might even prove fatal.

It is no wonder then, that pet owners are trying to do all they can to keep an otherwise active and lively dog quiet at this time. There is a lot of advice about crating a dog (see our article on this topic). However, whilst this might solve the immediate problem of how to restrict physical activity, it does nothing to address the stress or distress that being confined in this way might cause for your dog.

Reduce Stress Naturally
After powerful medication, it is also not surprising that owners do not want to subject their dogs to further sedatives or other medicines to keep them quiet. However, there are many positive reports in forums and on some other sites about pet owners having good results from using DAP products for their pet at this time.

What is DAP?

DAP is actually an acronym for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It is a natural substance that nursing bitches secrete in their milk and which works to make little puppies feel safe, secure and comforted during the first few weeks of life. As such, it is a totally natural substance and only works on dogs – so any other animal you might have (including cats), will not be affected.

This pheromone is available in collars, diffusers and sprays made by CEVA under the brand name Adaptil ™. I already knew about the benefits of another pheromone product they make, the Feliway Diffuser for cats which I wrote about on HubPages some time ago, so I wrote to Elizabeth Hodgkins at CEVA, to ask her about the benefits for dogs of using Adaptil products to help calm them and keep them as stress-free as possible after heartworm treatment. She said:

“Adaptil pheromone can be very helpful in providing the confined dog with a sense of well-being that is often not part of a restricted environment, such as a carrier or crate. Adaptil communicates to the dog that the security and safety that was so much a part of the first few weeks of its life with its mother are once again a real part of its circumstances, no matter how stressful and limited those circumstances might be.”

Continue reading

5 Tips To Ensure Your Pets Are Happy And Healthy

woman and dog

Our pets give us so much, we owe it to them to do all we can to keep them happy and healthy.

I am delighted to bring you this article by guest author Ilena Sanchez, who offers 5 simple tips to ensure that your pets stay happy as well as healthy.

Owning a pet can enrich our lives. They improve our mental health and well being, promote a more active lifestyle and can even lower blood pressure. Any caring pet owner should take steps to ensure that their pet is equally happy and healthy. Follow these simple steps to care for your pets.

5 Simple Tips For a Healthy, Happy Pet

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Like humans, pets often need support in order to maintain a healthy weight. In the UK one in three pets are currently overweight. A healthy weight can reduce the risk of a number of conditions limiting the life span of many pets. Weight can also affect the mobility and quality of life of any animal. The first step to ensure a healthy weight is to allow your pet to get plenty of exercise. Dogs for example, should be walked at least once a day in order to manage weight, increase muscle tone, improve circulation and aid strong bones.

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”no” align=”right” asin=”B01HS74FOE” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”yes” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Exy3IuwQL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”creyougoolif2-20″ width=”102″] It is also important to give your pet a healthy diet. There are specially formulated food products available for animals that have weight problems. These products can reduce body fat by over 20% across a two month period. Many are high in fibre and contain products to aid the burning of fat. Continue reading

The “Seasonal” Versus “All-Year-Round” Heartworm Prevention Debate

As we enter the Fall, the debate about whether all year round treatment with a heartworm preventative is absolutley necessary – or whether seasonal protection is still ok, depending on where you live, is sure to become a hot topic once more.

From many posts in forums online that I have seen, it certainly seems to me that many owners feel that the advice from Vets and from the American Heartworm Society about giving preventative treatments for heartworm all year round, is somehow a sort of ‘conspiracy’, fuelled by the drug companies making the medicines, to ensure that owners are paying out for twelve months of the year, instead of just during the warmer months.

I read a forum post from a Veterinary Technician working in Michigan who stated that she would definitely not be stopping the medications for her dogs during the winter because it just isn’t safe to do so. She reported that:-

“most people that stop their heartworm prevention in the fall about 50% of their dogs show up positive in the spring”

A Simple Misunderstanding Could Result In Your Dog Becoming Infected With Heartworm

Many people do not realise how the preventative medicines work and are running the risk of their dog becoming infected because they feel that the weather has turned cooler, the mosquitoes are gone, therefore they can stop the preventative. Wrong!

healthy dogUnfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The preventative, does not protect your dog for the month ahead, it works to kill the microfilariae or tiny larvae which have infected your pet during the month since you last gave the dose of medication.

So, thinking in November that the weather is so cool now and that there are no skeeters around, does not mean it is safe to stop giving the monthly medicine if the previous month was warm and there were skeeters around. This is because doing so, will mean that if your dog has picked up any larvae during the warmer, preceding month, these will not be killed and your dog will go on to develop heartworm disease as these larvae grow into adults. Continue reading