What are heartworms and how can my pet get them?

Heartworms are adult parasites that live in the vessels of the heart as well as the lungs. They are transmitted through a bite with a heartworm-infected mosquito. After your pet is bitten, the immature form of heartworm, called microfilaria, migrates through your pet’s system eventually lodging into the vessels of the heart and lungs as they mature into adult worms. This can cause severe damage to those organs and can be fatal if left untreated. Some basic symptoms of heartworm disease may be coughing, lethargy and exercise intolerance. Heartworm disease is easily preventable through the simple administration of a monthly heartworm preventative. We recommend that all pets, whether they are indoor or outdoor, be on a preventative year-round to protect them from heartworm disease. Many heartworm preventatives also have added protection against other parasites such as fleas, ticks or intestinal worms. Please call us today or set up an appointment to discuss the appropriate heartworm preventative for your pet.

Can my cat get heartworms? I thought heartworms only affected dogs…

Yes! Cats can get heartworm disease too. Even indoor cats are susceptible to heartworm disease. In fact, heartworm disease can be even more damaging to felines than canines. Their smaller size makes even the fewest number of heartworms very taxing on their heart and lungs. We recommend that all cats, indoor and outdoor, be protected from heartworm disease. A monthly dose of heartworm prevention will ensure that your pet is safe and secure from heartworm disease. Many of the preventatives also have added benefits of intestinal parasite control, flea prevention and ear mite control.

My pet has bad breath. What can I do?

Bad breath can be a sign of dental disease. Experts estimate that over 80% of pets have some form of dental or periodontal disease. Take a moment to open your pet’s mouth: Do you see pink gums, bright white teeth and smell fresh, clean breath? Most of us will see yellow or dark brown deposits on the teeth or a film called plaque covering the teeth. Some of us may even note reddened, irritated gums or chipped/missing teeth. Our pets can get the same dental diseases that we can, such as gingivitis, infection, abscesses and tooth loss. We recommend daily toothbrushing with a pet-specific toothpaste to keep your pet’s mouth clean and healthy. There are many flavors of toothpaste available as well as different brushes to accomplish this. Regular toothbrushing also allows you to notice any problems that might be occurring so they can be addressed promptly. Dental health is not just limited to the mouth. Irritated gums and periodontal pockets can become an avenue for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect your pet’s heart, lung and kidney health. We recommend Oravet Chews to help clean your dogs teethn and leave them with a minty fresh breath call us about them today!

What can I do if my pet won’t let me brush his/her teeth?

First of all, don’t give up! It can take time to teach your pet to let you brush their teeth. Try to introduce toothbrushing over the course of a week. Start slowly by allowing your pet to taste the toothpaste on the first day. This helps to make the experience more positive and they can begin to associate toothpaste and toothbrushing as a fun event. On days 2 and 3, you can begin to brush a couple of teeth. If your pet begins to resist, stop there for the day. Next, as your pet gets more comfortable, try a few more teeth. Gradually increase the amount of teeth you brush, as your pet will allow. Eventually, you can work up to brushing the whole mouth. For smaller pets, you may prefer a finger brush to better maneuver in smaller mouths. A finger brush looks similar to a thimble – it slides over the tip of a finger and has raised rubber bristles to clean the teeth. You can also try to use a washcloth if a pet does not tolerate using the toothbrush. Please don’t get discouraged – even if your pet only allows you to brush a few teeth at a time, it is still beneficial to your pet’s dental health. Remember, the goal is to make this a fun ritual for both you and your pet. Think of it as teaching them a new trick… practice makes perfect.

I’ve tried the tips above but my pet still won’t let me brush his/her teeth. What should I do?

Occasionally, some pets will not tolerate daily toothbrushing. There are many other options that are available. Dental treats such as Greenies help to clean the teeth of plaque before it can harden into gum-irritating tartar. Rawhide chews and water additives that contain antimicrobial/antibacterial agents are also helpful to maintain your pet’s dental health. Diets formulated specifically for dental health, such as Hill’s t/d diet, can act as an “edible toothbrush” helping to scrape plaque from the teeth. Encouraging pets to play with toys also can be beneficial to their dental health. There are many toys that can be used with toothpaste or dental treats. Just the act of chewing on toys produces saliva that can aid in washing plaque from the teeth.

My pet’s teeth are already yellow/missing/gums are bleeding. What should I do?

We recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our licensed technicians to evaluate your pet’s oral health. During this appointment, the technician will examine your pet’s teeth and gums and grade your pet’s oral health. Recommendations may be made for products that would be of benefit to your pet’s dental health. We can also demonstrate toothbrushing to show you how to effectively clean your pet’s teeth. In addition, we may recommend that your pet have his/her teeth professionally cleaned with a procedure we call a dental prophylaxis.

What’s involved in a dental cleaning or prophylaxis?

A dental cleaning, also known as a prophylaxis, is a procedure to clean your pet’s teeth, evaluate gum health and treat any oral issues. It involves the pet going under general anesthesia to fully evaluate the gums and the teeth above and below the gumline. Your pet’s teeth will be scaled with an ultrasonic scaler to break up and remove the hard, tartar deposits from the teeth. After scaling, the teeth are polished to remove any scratches or crevices that plaque and bacteria may settle into. We also apply a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel of the teeth. Your pet is also given an injectable antibiotic prior to the dental cleaning and may go home with oral antibiotics. In addition, we offer the application of OraVet, a barrier sealant that helps to protect the teeth from plaque and bacteria build-up. This same sealant can also be applied from a take-home kit to further maintain the barrier. Your pet’s oral health will be charted, making note of any pockets or teeth to monitor closely. Depending on the severity of the dental disease, extractions may be necessary to remove diseased teeth and eliminate areas where pockets of infection or abscess may occur.

I’m scared of my pet going under anesthesia. Is it safe?

At Caseville Small Animal Clinic we take anesthesia very seriously. All pets have the option of having pre-anesthetic bloodwork drawn to more sensitively look at organ function. This blood test analyzes liver and kidney function to determine the safest anesthetics and pain management options. We also evaluate red and white blood cell numbers to look for underlying infection and ensure adequate values are present. Our clinic also offers intravenous fluids and catheterization to maintain adequate blood pressure and hydration while your pet is under anesthesia. Your pet is carefully monitored by licensed technicians with state-of-the-art equipment that details heart rate and rhythm, respiration rate, temperature and blood pressure. We continue to monitor your pet until they have fully recovered from anesthesia to ensure they wake up smoothly.

What are the benefits of laser surgery?

Laser surgery has many benefits to the patient. Laser surgery is less painful than traditional surgery. Patients experience less bleeding due to the laser’s ability to cauterize as it cuts. Decreased swelling is another benefit of laser surgery. In addition, there is a reduced chance of infection associated with laser surgery resulting in a faster overall recovery time.

Why is it necessary for my pet to have all these vaccines, a heartworm test and a fecal test just to board him/her for a few days??

At the Caseville Small Animal Clinic PC we operate a large boarding facility for both dogs and cats. We have eighteen dog runs, with each of them housing 1 to 3 dogs at one time. Many times throughout the year our reservations fill up bringing in a large number of dogs. The more pets that come in and out of the same area increases the risk of disease. We want your pet, along with all other pets that we care for, to be happy and healthy. To insure that all pets remain healthy and prevent the spread of any viral or bacterial infections we require that all pets staying with us be current on their vaccines. These include Rabies, DHL4PPC (distemper vaccine) and Bordetella (kennel cough).
All boarding dogs are walked two to three times during the day in an outdoor wooded area. While outside, they are at risk of heartworm disease from mosquitoes and also intestinal parasites that can be in the soil.
By making sure that your pet and the pets next to them come in free of contagious disease, we can send them home happy and healthy. We know that the health your family member (pet) means a lot to you. These are requirements for the safety of your pet and our facility.

Sign up using the form below or call us at 989-856-3525 to make your appointment.

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  • "Dr. Kevin and his staff are caring and compassionate for their patients (and families). They are professional as well as enthusiastic and courteous. We know when we bring our animals in that they are being treated with the latest technology in veterinary science and equipment, But most importantly we feel the love they have for animals."
    Gus and Linda G. / Caseville, MI

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