Pet Health Care

Spaying and Neutering: 

When we welcome pets to our home, we consider them our family. Apart from routine vaccines and a healthy lifestyle, we want to do what’s best for them to ensure the most time together. Apart from yearly vet visits, it has been scientifically proven that spaying (females) and neutering (males) while young will help significantly decrease the chances of cancer and behavior issues. 

Cats can literally breed like rabbits. Females can produce two litters a year and kittens can become pregnant as early as 4 or 5 months old. Within 7 years one female cat can be responsible for 4,000+ cats. Spaying a female cat helps to protect against mammary cancer, unwelcome behavior when they are in heat and uterine infections. Un-neutered male cats fight one another causing bite wounds. Intact males seek out females making it a challenge to keep males inside. They will spray urine to mark their territory to show their availability to other cats. If you have never had a male cat spray urine in your house consider yourself lucky, it is an offensive smell and very difficult to eliminate from your home.

Dogs that are not neutered are most likely going to show signs of dominance (mounting) or have a constant urge to explore for a new mate. According to "SNAP" (Spay Neuter Assistance Program, SNAPUS.ORG) 85% of Male dogs that are hit by cars are NOT neutered. Un-neutered male aggression is a significant problem seen as well. 75% of dog bites are reported to be caused by dogs that were NOT neutered. 

Female dogs will also try to roam, giving in to an innate urge to reproduce. An intact female dog could produce 2 litters, with on average 8-10 puppies EACH time EACH year. With more than half of all dogs brought into the local shelter being euthanized, spaying and neutering needs to be considered as necessary as a rabies vaccine. 


There are various diseases and parasites that our pets can come in contact with, here are some important ones to know about. If you need more information or think your pet might have an issue with any of these please call our office. 

Fleas and Ticks: 

Fleas and ticks pose a serious threat to the health and comfort of your and your pet. In addition to extreme discomfort, fleas and ticks can also cause serious health problems. Current technology has come a long way and now there are multiple topical and oral treatments to consider. 


Zoonotic Diseases- The Shared Threat

A zoonosis or zoonose is any infectious disease that can be transmitted (in some instances, by a vector) from other animals, both wild and domestic, to humans or from humans to animals (the latter is sometimes called reverse zoonosis).

Here are some Zoonotic Diseases of concern to pet owners

  • Ehrlichiosis - Transmitted by ticks, this bacterial disease can cause fever, muscle aches, vomiting and other, more serious symptoms. As many as half of all patients require hospitalization.
  • Giardia - People and pets are infected when they drink water containing the parasite Giardia. You can also become infected by putting something in your mouth that has come into contact with a pet's stool. Signs include diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.
  • Leptospirosis - "Lepto" is a bacterial disease spread by contact with urine from an infected animal, including dogs, raccoons, squirrels and skunks. Lepto can cause high fever, severe headache,vomiting and, if left untreated, kidney damage or liver failure.
  • Rabies - This well-known disease is caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals and transmitted to pets and people by bites. It is invariably fatal if not promptly treated. 
  • Ringworm - Ringworm is a fungal infection -- not a worm -- transmitted by contact with the skin or fur of an infected dog or cat. Signs include a bald patch of scaly skin on the scalp, or a ring-shaped, itchy rash on the skin. 
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever - A very serious, tick-borne disease that causes fever, headache, muscle pain, followed by a rash. May be fatal if left untreated.
  • Toxoplasmosis - This is a parasitic disease spread by contact with cat feces in soil or litter, although the major route of transmission is contaminated meat. It can cause serious health problems in pregnant women or in people with compromised immune systems.

Lyme Disease

Because we are seeing such an increase in Lyme disease at Speak we felt it was crucial to include information on the human side as well. Much of the following information was provided by the Broome County Health Department, The CDC (Center for disease control) as well as ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society). 

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Broome County has been deemed an endemic area, meaning more than 50% of the ticks in our area are carriers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Less than half of people diagnosed with Lyme report ever seeing the tell-tale bulls-eye rash. The CDC estimates there are more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme diagnosed every year in the US.  Lyme disease can affect you and your dog in similar ways. Joint pain and lethargy are some of the early symptoms, but chronic Lyme can affect the function of the kidneys as well as the neurologic system. Statistics show as many as 20% of people report ongoing health problems, after initial treatment. 

Prevention is key! When it comes to prevention, there is nothing controversial about tick control. It is crucial in Lyme endemic areas to use tick-controlling products.

Preventative measures include:

  • Dress to repel- light colored clothing- tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants
  • Use repellents- Permethrin on clothes, 20% deet on skin, essential oils 
  • Walk in the center of trails, and avoid leaf litter and high grasses
  • Shower or bathe within 2 hours of coming indoors
  • Conduct a full body tick check on you and your dog, pay extra attention to warm dark areas (groin, armpits, behind knees, around the ears)

Proper tick removal

  • Use fine- tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Avoid squeezing the body of the tick if engorged.
  • Pull upward with steady pressure. If the mouth breaks off, leave it alone and it should work its way out in a few days.
  • After removing, clean the area with rubbing alcohol or warm soapy water.
  • Place the tick in a small container with rubbing alcohol to kill it or flush down the toilet. DO NOT CRUSH WITH YOUR FINGERS.
  • Removing the tick as soon as possible, within 36 hours, greatly reduces the risk of contracting Lyme disease. 
  • NEVER use any products that will make the tick back out. Essential oils, a match, and motor oil are common. Drowning a tick or making it back out will increase your chances of contracting Lyme as it causes the tick to vomit the contents of its stomach. The gut is where the bacteria lies. 

In climate weather has increased the likelihood of coming into contact with ticks during the winter

  • Adult ticks can be actively feeding anytime the temperature is above 32 degrees F
  • Subzero temperatures have minimal effect on local tick populations because they can freeze and thaw multiple times without becoming effected
  • Prolonged dry conditions will greatly reduce the local populations of ticks due to their inability to cope with desiccation

Lyme disease in canines is detected by a simple 10 minute blood test. The reported statistic through the Companion Animal Parasite Council is 1 in 15 dogs are currently testing positive for Lyme. This year our office has been confirming an average of 6 Lyme positive dogs for every 15 dogs tested. 

For your canine family members there are a few options that we recommend using year round. The gold standard to help ensure your pet will be protected according to the latest medical guidelines is a good monthly preventative used in conjunction with the Lyme vaccine. Unfortunately, there is no known protocol that assures 100% efficacy against Lyme infections, but heeding to this standard of care, drastically reduces the chance of your dog developing this disease. 

Advantix II

Advantix II is to be used on dogs and puppies 7 weeks and older. It is used for the prevention and treatment of ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies and lice on dogs. It repels and kills ticks including deer ticks (most common carriers of Lyme), American dog ticks, brown dog ticks, and Lone star ticks for up to four weeks. It begins to kill fleas within 1 hour and prevents infestations for 1 month. 

Seresto 

The Seresto collar is safe for dogs and puppies 7 weeks and older. It is a waterproof collar that is designed to slowly and continuously release the active ingredients in low concentrations for eight months. This collar initially starts killing fleas within 24 hours and ticks within 48; it also acts as a REPELLANT for the entire 8 months. 

Simparica

Simparica is an oral medication that is administered to dogs older than 6 months every 30 days. It is used to prevent fleas and ticks. Simaprica starts killing fleas 3 hours after initial administration and reduces the number of live fleas to 96% after 8 hours. Killing and control of ticks is seen 8 hours after administration. 

A Lyme vaccine, Borrelia Burgolorferi Bacterin, is also available for your dog. The Lyme vaccine is a series of 2 vaccines initially, and is updated annually. Speak with your doctor to determine if this is right for your dog. 

If you have any further questions about Lyme disease in humans please contact the Broome County Health Department Lyme Division (607) 778–2847

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