When someone we love – such as a beloved pet – dies, the loss often causes grief and intense sorrow. By physically showing your grief, you actively mourn the death of your beloved pet. This active mourning will move you on a journey toward reconciling with the loss of your pet.
What Should I Do?
Your journey of grief will not take on a prescribed pattern or look like stages. During the period when you are actively mourning your loss, it may help to consider the following:
Acknowledge the reality of the death
Acknowledging the full reality of your loss may take weeks or months, but will be done in a time that is right for you. Be kind to yourself as you prepare for the “new normal” of a life without your beloved pet. Just as it took time to build the relationship with your pet, it will take time to get used to him or her not being there.
Move toward the pain of the loss
Experiencing these emotional thoughts and feelings about the death of a pet is a difficult, but important, need. A healthier grief journey may come from taking your time to work through your feelings rather than trying to push them away or ignore it.
Continue your relationship through memories
Your memories allow your pets to live on in you. Embracing these memories, both happy and sad, can be a very slow and, at times, painful process that occurs in small steps. For example, take some time to look at past photos, write a tribute to your pet, or write your pet a letter recalling your time together.
Adjust your self-identity
Part of your self-identity might come from being a pet owner. Others may also think of you in relation to your pet. You may be “the guy who always walked the big black dog around the neighborhood” or “the friend whose cat always jumped on laps.” Adjusting to this change is a central need of mourning.
Search for meaning
When a pet dies, it’s natural to question the meaning and purpose of pets in your life. Coming to terms with these questions is another need you must meet during your grief journey. Know that it is the asking, not the finding of concrete answers, that is important.
Receive support from others
You need the love and support of others because you never "get over" grief. Talking or being with other pet owners who have experienced the death of a pet can be one important way to meet this need.
Things to Remember
The experience of loss is different for everyone and can present unique challenges.
The deafening silence - the silence in your home after the death of a pet may seem excruciatingly loud. While your animal companion occupies physical space in your life and your home, many times their presence is felt more with your senses. When that pet is no longer there, the lack of their presence – the silence - becomes piercing. It becomes the reality of the “presence of the absence.” Merely being aware of this stark reality will assist in preparing you for the flood of emotions.
The special bond with your pet - the relationship shared with your pet is a special and unique bond, a tie that some might find difficult to understand. There will be well-meaning friends and family members who will think that you should not mourn for your pet or who will tell you that you should not be grieving as hard as you are because “it’s just a cat” or “just a dog.” Your grief is normal and the relationship you shared with your special friend needs to be mourned.
Grief can’t be ranked - sometimes our heads get in the way of our heart’s desire to mourn by trying to justify the depth of our emotion. Some people will then want to “rank” their grief, pitting their grief emotions with others who may be “worse.” While this is normal, your grief is your grief and deserves the care and attention of anyone who is experiencing a loss.
Questions of spirituality - during this time in your grief journey, you may find yourself questioning your beliefs regarding pets and the after-life. Many people around you will also have their own opinions. It will be important during this time for you to find the answers right for you and your individual and personal beliefs.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms which live in the arteries of the lungs and heart of dogs and more rarely cats. The microscopic form of these worms are transmitted by mosquitoes. They are then injected into the pets where they mature into adult worms. Adult females heartworms inside of a dog release the baby heartworms, called microfilariae, into an animal's bloodstream. Then, mosquitoes become ingest the microfilariae while taking their next blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animals and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over six months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to seven years. Microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.
How is Heartworm Disease detected/prevented?
Heartworm disease is detected by drawing three drops of blood and looking for an antigen to microfilariae. It takes only eight minutes and is done in-house. Once the animal is found to be negative, they are started on a preventative product. This product not only prevents heartworm but also intestinally deworms the dog on a monthly basis. For the pets overall interest, heartworm products should be given year- round. The product needs to be given at least 30 days past the las mosquito to thoroughly kill any microfilaria which may be inside the pet. There are different types of heartworm products available- either chewable tablets, topical products or even injectable which last for six months. The intestinal parasite coverage varies with each product but they all do a great job at prevention of heartworm disease.
What happens if a dog tests positive?
Usually, all but the most advanced cases of heartworm disease can be successfully treated in dogs.
Adult heartworm is dogs are killed using a drug called an adulticide which is injected into the deep muscle of the back through a series of treatments. Because this is a very serious condition, we need to keep the activity level of the dog to a minimum for a number of months. When the dog is sent home, exercise should be limited to short leash walks for the duration of the recovery period. This restriction decreases the risk that a partial or complete blockage of blood flow happens which can result in sudden death.
Many dogs are treated in the United States each year and have a very positive outcome, however, it is a much easier disease to prevent than treat.
We recommend Interceptor Plus and Heartgard. Check out our specials we have on both.
One of our patients got into some D-con. The owners noticed right away, and we were able to induce vomiting to get it out of her system. She is doing great!
D-con mouse and rat poison contains a chemical that prevents clotting. When an animal ingests the poison, it can take 3-5 days before clinical signs are noticed. Clinical signs include lethargy, coughing, exercise intolerance, vomiting, blood in the stool, pale gums, collapse, nose bleeds, blood in the urine or feces, and bruising. There is an anecdote to the poison, called vitamin K. Many patients who receive treatment survive, but if not caught early enough, ingesting the poison can be fatal.
Patients are treated for at least one month with vitamin K. A blood test to check clotting times should be performed after one month to make sure the patient is no longer affected.
If you see your pet ingest D-con, you should contact your veterinarian right away. If your pet is showing signs of illness and you have D-con in the house, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
I found a tick attached to my dog yesterday and pulled it off. Could he have Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a tiny blood parasite that is spread by infected ticks. Not all ticks have Lyme disease, but the prevalence of Lyme infected ticks is increasing across the Midwest. Luckily, there are very effective measures that can be taken to prevent Lyme disease in our pets. First, use a monthly tick prevention such as Frontline or Vectra. These products cause the ticks to die before they are able to transmit diseases. Second, remove any attached ticks that you find on your pet immediately. Remove them by firmly grasping the body of the tick near the head and pulling back with firm traction. A tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to successfully transmit the Lyme parasite to a pet. Third, vaccinate and/or test your dog for Lyme disease if recommended for your specific situation. If you remove a tick that is attached but not engorged (filled with blood) it most likely has not been attached long enough to cause a problem. Watch any bite areas on your pet closely for continued redness or signs of infection like swelling and discharge. Signs of Lyme disease include fever, lethargy, joint pain, joint swelling, and lameness.
I thought I would email you to see if you could give me any suggestions on Bandit, our 4 year old Blue Heeler. Since we have had some nice warmer days recently; we have let bandit be outside running through the fields and playing down by the river. We have noticed that he doesn’t want to swim this season and when we play fetch with him he coughs some and doesn’t want to play as long as he normally does. This really concerns me since it seems like it has happened all of the sudden.
It sounds like Bandit may be having a problem with his heart. These symptoms you list of decreased exercise tolerance and coughing are commonly seen with Heart Disease and Heartworms. Although it seems like this is an acute problem if Bandit has been in the house with you all winter this problem has probably been building, but you are just now noticing it as his exercise level returns to normal.
I believe you should bring Bandit in right away for an examination and testing. We will perform a heartworm test to see if he has heartworms and may do a radiograph of his chest to evaluate his heart as well. Prevention should be given year round without interruption. Your proximity to the river is concerning as Heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. You do not have to live next to a river to contract heartworms though. A mosquito may carry heartworms at anytime and may live through a winter if they are able to hide in warm areas, especially in urban regions.
If you have left over heartworm prevention from last year please do not start it until we test Bandit as giving prevention to a dog carrying a large burden of heartworms can be fatal to him. Please call us to schedule Bandit’s appointment at your earliest convenience.
Question: My cat is vomiting all the time and losing weight. I think he may have hairballs, what is the best hairball remedy?
Answer: Is your cat’s hacking getting the best of you? There are many hairball remedies on the market. Some of these remedies work great, others not so much. Laxatone is a supplement which can be given to help lubricate the hairball and move it through the intestinal tract. Using Laxatone generously during an actual hairball episode can help to move the obstruction. Often this takes several teaspoons rather than just a small squeeze. Hairball treats are also marketed, often these require too many to be effective. Many cat food companies also make hairball foods which certainly can keep the number of vomiting episodes down in many of our cats.
The part of your question which concerns me is that you mentioned weight loss. Usually cats do not lose weight with hairballs unless significant or severe. I would recommend trying the hairball remedies first, but if it is not helping, bring your cat into your vet for a check-up. Diagnostic testing such as blood work and x-rays are sometimes needed to help find the answer to the vomiting. Diseases such as thyroid disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies can all cause vomiting in cats and are often accompanied by weight loss. If you cat is eating things around the house- hair bands, string, toys/stuffing, the vomiting could indicate a blockage, either partial or complete, and the cat should be seen immediately.
Question: “Doc, my 9 month old lab puppy just ate some garbage out of the trash this morning. Since then he vomited three times. What should I do?”
Answer: As with any medical condition, we would be happy to perform an exam at any time, especially if the pet is vomiting severely or becoming dehydrated or lethargic. However, many of these episodes of vomiting are caused by gastritis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach caused by eating something unusual. Most episodes of gastritis end on their own after a few hours if all food and treats are taken away. So the best thing you can do for your vomiting pet at home is to take away all food and treats for around 12 hours. It is important to continue to let your pet drink water though to prevent dehydration. If after 12 hours your pet seems normal, happy, and has stopped vomiting, it is time to try a little food. If your pet can keep that food down and continues to act normally, you probably just survived a minor episode of gastritis. Never hesitate to call your vet though if your pet continues to vomit, if you think your pet ate an object like a sock or toy, if your pet seems painful, or if you have any other concerns regarding your vomiting pet.
Question: My dog gets really nervous when he rides in the car, and often throws up. What can I do to keep this from happening?
Answer: Your dog might actually be getting car sick, or he may have anxiety about riding in the car.
Try to ease your dog into the “car” experience. You can start by getting in the car with your dog, but not starting it. Sit in the car with your pet for a few minutes, and reward them if they are calm. Try this a few times. Next, get in the car with your dog, start the car, but do not go anywhere. Again, reward your dog with praise! Finally, drive a short distance, continuing to reward your pet while they are calm. Little by little, increase the distance that you drive. It helps to make riding in the car an enjoyable experience. Go for a ride to the park or to visit a doggie friend! Try to make sure that not every trip in the car with your dog ends up with a visit to your vet clinic.
If the vomiting still seems to be an issue, it may be car sickness or motion sickness. To avoid a potential mess, it is best to withhold food from your dog at least 3-4 hours prior to going in the car. There are medications that can be prescribed if this is the case. Always contact your vet if you have concerns of questions.
These are heartworms that have been removed from a dogs heart. Not a pretty sight!
Heartworm disease is a serious condition caused by worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart. Did you know that dogs and cats of any age or breed are susceptible to infection?
Ready to get a little nerdy? Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes that become infected while taking a blood meal from an infected dog. When the mosquito then bites another dog or cat (like your pet,) larvae are deposited on the skin. The larvae then take a 2 month road trip through the connective tissue, under the skin, then pass into the animal’s blood stream and are quickly transported to the arteries of the lung. It takes a total of approximately six months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms that begin producing offspring. Adult heartworms can live for five to seven years in the dog.
The consequence of these worms residing in the dog is the development of problems with their lungs and heart, like heart failure. Many dogs do not show any signs of heartworm disease until the disease is in advanced stages. It is important to test dogs on a regular basis in order to catch the disease before it gets to that point. The American Heartworm Society encourages testing on an annual basis. When was the last time your pets were tested for heartworms?
Don’t let your pets heartworm end up in your heartache! It is very easy to prevent heartworm disease. It can be as simple as giving your dog a tablet once a month all year round. There are topical forms of the medication as well. Call you vet to discuss the options for your pet.