This month is all about keeping your pooch healthy and happy! Not only is it National Heartworm Awareness month, it’s also National Pet 1st Aid month and National Lyme Disease Prevention month. We’ve got you covered on all three of these as we discuss symptoms, prevention tips, and the best ways to keep your pooch safe.

Heartworm is a potentially deadly parasite that is transmitted only by mosquitos, which pick up larval heartworms, called microfilaria, circulating in the bloodstream of infected animals. Heartworm usually affects 250,000 to 500,000 dogs per year and statistics show that 1 out of every 200 dogs will get it. Symptoms of heartworm may include decreased appetite, a mild persistent cough, fatigue after activity, and weight loss. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet to have him checked out. A common way to prevent heartworm in your furry friend, is by going to get a heartworm check up annually. Your vet will most likely put your pup on a yearly medication that prevents heartworm and makes it more unlikely for your dog to get it. 

First Aid is one of the most important things for your dog(s) because there are multiple ways your dog(s) could get injured or seriously hurt. Putting together a first aid box for your dog will help in many different situations. A few basic items you should stock your kit with are cotton bandages, cotton wool or lint to clean wounds, mild pet-friendly antiseptic to wash wounds, and a pair of tweezers for removing strings or objects from the mouth. You should also make sure you have a few sets of these boxes such as one for your house, car, travel, etc… so you can keep your dog safe whenever and wherever you go.

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and rarely, Borrelia mayonii. Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. Although it does not occur commonly in dogs, Lyme disease can cause kidney failure and death in severe cases. The most common sign of Lyme disease in dogs is arthritis.This can cause sudden lameness pain and sometimes swelling in one or more joints. If possible, avoid allowing your dog to roam in tick-infested environments where Lyme disease is common. Check your dog’s coat and skin daily, and remove ticks by hand. You can also buy certain products to help avoid ticks like prescriptions and collars.

The best way to keep your pooch healthy is to take him for regular check-ups at your family veterinarian. They will be able to help with any prevention, diagnosis and/or treatment if needed.