Heartworm Prevention:  The Growing Threat and How You Can Stop It

Heartworm Prevention | The Pet Vet

Heartworm Prevention:  The Growing Threat and How You Can Stop It

The Key to Heartworm Prevention: Know Thine Enemy

In the fight against heartworm disease, the greatest weapon veterinarians and pet owners have is knowledge about the parasite, its life cycle, and the damage it causes to the vital organs of its host.  Heartworm prevention starts with a basic knowledge of heartworms and how to avoid them. Adult heartworms are thin roundworms that live in the heart and surrounding vessels.  They can grow to be up to 10 inches long! Their natural host is the dog, but other animals can be infected as well, such as cats and ferrets, and wild animals like coyotes, foxes, and wolves.  They have a predilection for the pulmonary artery (the vessel that connects the heart to the lungs), but they can live inside the chambers of the heart and in the other large vessels of the heart as well, such as the aorta and vena cava.  The usual life span for an adult heartworm is 3-7 years if they go untreated.  Dogs can carry hundreds of worms and sometimes the infection can be so bad that conventional treatments do not work and the only option is surgical removal.

Understanding the life cycle of the heartworm can help you understand how infections work as well as the best ways to prevent infection in your own pets.  The most immature stages of the heartworm are known as microfilariae or L1 (for Larvae 1).  These babies come about from the mating of a male and a female adult in the heart of an infected animal.  The microfilariae then float around in the bloodstream.  When a mosquito bites the dog they are ingested by the mosquito.  Inside the mosquito, the L1s become L2s, and then L3s.  It is these third stage larvae that actually cause heartworm infections in our pets.  The L3s live in the mouthparts of the mosquito (think about how tiny they are!), and are transmitted into the skin of an animal when the mosquito bites it.  The L3s become L4s in the tissues of the dog and spend the next 8-12 weeks migrating around and trying to find a blood vessel.  Just before the worm enters the vascular system, there is one final molt and the L4 becomes a young adult.  The adult worm migrates through the wall of a blood vessel and travels to the heart.  The entire process from mosquito to the heart takes about 4 months.  Even though the worms are now in the adult stage, they are still not detectable by the testing methods available at this time.  The worms must be at least 6 months old to be detected via blood test.

Let’s Talk About Tests, Baby

These days, the most common method of testing used by veterinarians is a tabletop antigen test.  These tests are convenient because they can be performed in the clinic and take minutes to run.  Just 1-3 drops of blood are needed for the test.  Antigen testing is considered reliable because it detects antigen that can only be produced by an adult female worm.  This means that false positives are unlikely. However, due to the specificity of the test, immature stages and adult males cannot be detected, so false negatives may occur.  This is also why it is not necessary to test puppies less than 6 months old as any heartworms present would not be mature enough to cause a positive test result. However, it is important to note that if that puppy has some immature adults living in its vessels when it is started on heartworm prevention (maybe at 4-5 months of age), those worms will still be able to mature and may cause a positive test the next year when the dog is tested. The reason for this is because current preventives are only effective at killing L3’s and L4’s, the stages present in the tissues before they enter the bloodstream.  This is why it is so important to get a puppy on heartworm prevention as soon as possible.

How Can Heartworms Affect My Dog?

Obviously, worms living in the heart is a health hazard, but let’s talk about exactly what kind of damage these worms can cause.  During the life cycle, the worms must find a way from the skin into the vessels.  They do this by migrating through the tissues into a blood vessel and then straight to the heart.  The vessel is damaged from the worm entering the vascular system, but the endothelium (the inner wall) of the blood vessels is also damaged as the worm moves around inside of them.  This leaves scarring that causes blood flow to be more turbulent, leading to inflammation.  When the inflammation cascade is activated by the presence of worms, the body goes into overdrive to try to fight them off.  White blood cells, platelets, and antibodies are created in response to the insult.  However, despite the body’s efforts, these forces are not strong enough to combat a live adult worm and only cause more problems for the animal.  Also, since the worm never leaves, this inflammatory cascade is in a permanent state of attack and cannot shut itself off.  This overload of white blood cells can lead to a weakened immune system, as stores are depleted in the constant fight against heartworms.  Additionally, the increased levels of circulating platelets can cause life-threatening blood clots.

Inside of the heart, the worms cause damage to the delicate tissues of the heart- especially the valves that aid in proper blood flows into and out of the heart.  Once the valve leaflets are damaged, they become scarred and can develop leaks, leading to backflow of blood and a heart murmur.  The damage to the heart can cause the organ to have weaker contractions which decrease the outflow of blood.  The blood can get backed up in the heart causing an increase of blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).  This can lead to an enlargement of the right side of the heart, and ultimately heart failure.

The damage that heartworm infections cause is not exclusive to the heart, lungs, and vessels.  Heartworm disease can also affect the kidneys of your pet!  Remember the inflammatory cascade discussed earlier?  The antibodies do a great job of targeting the heartworm antigens and attach themselves to tiny antigens released by the worms.  However, the antigen-antibody complexes are too large and numerous for the body to easily excrete.  These large complexes damage the delicate filter the kidney uses to excrete water and waste products.  This damage is known as glomerulonephritis and can eventually lead to full-blown kidney failure.

It is important to note that most of the effects of heartworm disease are due to the live worms in the system and the inflammation that they cause.  Endothelial damage, lung infiltrates, decreased immunity, and kidney damage will continue to worsen as the dog remains untreated and the worms are left living in the vessels.

Heartworm Prevention

The good news is, there is an easy way to keep your fur babies safe from these tiny parasites year-round!   All you have to do is remember to give your dog a dose of preventive every month forever.  Yes, this can seem like a daunting task.  I often advise pet owners to make it routine by always dosing on the 1st of the month, or setting a repeating reminder on their phone.  If you know that monthly dosing is not a good option for you and your pet, you may want to consider Proheart.  It is an injectable preventive that lasts for 6 months.

This works great for most owners since you only have to remember to go see your veterinarian twice a year to ensure your dog is protected for the entire year, and most veterinarians send out reminders when it is time for you to come back in for a refill or heartworm test to renew your prescription.  That’s right, you need a prescription for heartworm prevention.  This is because it is important to ensure that your dog is heartworm free before placing him/her on a preventive.

A sudden dose of certain preventives can be very dangerous for a dog with a severe heartworm infestation because it can cause a mass die-off of microfilariae in the bloodstream which can result in thrombi, emboli, and even anaphylactic shock.  Keeping this in mind, you must go to your veterinarian and have your dog tested for heartworms once a year.  During this appointment, your dog should also have a physical exam.  Any time a veterinarian writes or fills a prescription for a patient, they are legally required to have what is called a “Veterinary-client-patient-relationship” (or VCPR for short) with you and your pet.  This is established by having sufficient knowledge of the health of your pet (i.e., performing yearly physical exams).  These exams can also help keep you on top of vaccination needs, or developing health problems that may have gone unnoticed over the course of the past year.

If you are wondering what type of prevention is the “best” there is a simple answer for that.  Whichever one works for you, your pet, and your lifestyle!  Will you remember every month or should you try the 6-month injection? Do you need a preventive that also covers fleas and ticks? Do you want a chewy treat?  Would you prefer a topical?  Is cost an issue for you?  All of these questions are best addressed by a veterinarian, but here are some fast facts to get you started:  For cats, Revolution is a great heartworm preventive, and it also covers intestinal worms, fleas, ear mites, and some ticks.  There are no preventives that cover everything (intestinal parasites, fleas, all ticks, and heartworms), so using two products together is often the best way to go (like Heartgard for internal parasites, and Nexgard for fleas and ticks).  Whatever your preferences or needs, your veterinarian can help you find the perfect product!

Many people feel that preventives are unnecessary for their pets because they are “inside only.”  Unless these dogs are trained to go to the bathroom inside, then they are not truly “inside only”.  Have you ever seen a mosquito inside of your house?  A study out of North Carolina State University found that 25% of the cats found infested with heartworms were indoor only cats.  Additionally, the burden of heartworms in dogs and wild animals is heaviest in south Texas and the Mississippi River Valley, and these areas are rapidly growing!  It is also important to note that once a dog is infected with heartworms, the treatment can be quite expensive and painful for the animal. It is much less expensive and less stressful for you and your pet to simply use a monthly heartworm preventive.

Treatment for Heartworms

Treating an animal infected with heartworms can cost anywhere from $2000-$5000.  This includes the drug to kill the heartworms, steroids, and antihistamines to prevent anaphylaxis and reactions, and hospitalization will be required for at least the days the treatment is administered.  The most dangerous aspect to the treatment is what happens to the worms after they die.  Your pet needs to be healthy enough to break down the dead worms in the bloodstream.

Blood clots are a serious threat and your pet must be monitored closely during and after treatment.  The critical period lasts about 4-6 weeks.  Before treatment, chest X-rays will be required to stage the heartworm disease to determine if traditional treatment is a safe option.  Additionally, the drug used to treat heartworms in dogs cannot be used in cats, so there is no treatment available for cats.  Once a cat is infected, it must be monitored carefully until the worms die off on their own.

The drug used to treat heartworm infestations is called melarsomine.  It is basically a derivative of arsenic and is currently the only effective treatment.  In the past, veterinarians would use what is called the “slow-kill” method.  This method uses certain heartworm preventions to “slowly kill” adult worms, and eventually, the dog will test negative.  However, more and more research is being published showing that this method does not actually work and it could be harming the fight against heartworms, not helping.

First, if we are just going to put a positive dog on prevention, why are we still requiring tests for prescriptions?  We are requiring them because veterinarians are legally obligated to do so, but placing an infected dog on a preventive can be a dangerous practice if done incorrectly.  This practice is also contributing to strains of resistant heartworms showing up in our pets.  When many of the preventives came out, they were 100% effective and that number has dropped to 95% for many products.  Exposing adult worms to preventives that are not designed to kill them is allowing their offspring to develop resistance and those resistant microfilariae can be passed to other dogs.  This is one reason why the “slow kill” method is no longer recommended by the American Heartworm Society or the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Another reason is that it may not actually be working at all.  A recent study out of Oklahoma State University shows that many heartworm positive dogs placed on preventive (for the “slow kill” method) produced false negatives when retested for heartworms.  This is because the antigens that are detected by the test becomes bound to antibodies produced by the dog and are not available for binding to the test.  These days, when a dog who was once positive suddenly tests negative, it is recommended that a “heat-fix” test is performed, which will break down the antigen-antibody complexes and allow for true antigen testing.

The final reason that slow kill is not the best option is simply for the health of your pet.  Remember all those health effects discussed earlier?  Those do not stop occurring until all of the heartworms in the dog are killed.  It seems that the “slow kill” method may just be allowing the heartworms to live out their lives while you pay for your dog to be on preventive.  It is also important to note that all the dangers that come from treatment with Melarsomine (or “fast kill”) are still present with “slow kill”, but with a fast kill, all the worms die at once so it is shortened, albeit intensified.  With slow kill, the worms die on their own, at any time, and your dog cannot be hospitalized, monitored, or placed on cage rest for 3-7 years!   In short, it is cheaper, easier, and safer to keep your pet on a heartworm preventive year-round than to face any sort of heartworm infestation.

Call your veterinarian or find a Pet Vet location to set up an appointment to get your pet started on prevention today!


How to Fight the Bite: Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs and Cats

flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that most pet owners will have encountered at least once in their pets’ lives. Itching is the most common problem that is noted with these parasites but they can cause hair loss, skin infections, reduce your pet’s activity level and even transmit diseases. Knowledge of these common parasites and proper prevention techniques can ensure that your pet is healthy and happy. This blog covers some best practices for flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats.

how to fight the bite

Flea and Tick Prevention is a Year-Round Battle

Fleas and ticks are everywhere from the lake to parks and even your own home. As a pet owner, you have to constantly be on guard when it comes to protecting your furry friend. There are many ways to prevent flea and tick infestations. The most important step is keeping your pet on monthly preventative. Year-round prevention is imperative to reduce the risk of infestation of both fleas and ticks. It is a common misconception that fleas and ticks are dormant in the winter months. The southern region of the US has a warm climate that is hospitable for these pests throughout the year. There are a lot of preventatives on the market today. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian what medication is the best for your pet. Nexgard and Revolution are offered at all Pet Vet clinics. These are both great options for flea and tick prevention. It is important to note that flea and tick preventatives are specific to dogs or cats. Make sure to read the label carefully before applying any preventative to your pet.

There are also some ways that you can try to control these pests in your yard. Fleas and ticks prefer to live in areas with lots of vegetation. Mowing the lawn regularly and removing any brush, weeds or leaf litter are great ways to keep external parasites from your lawn. Fencing your lawn to keep wildlife, such as deer and rodents, out can also be helpful as they are common carriers of external parasites. There are sprays available to treat outside areas. If you live near wooded areas or large pastures, this might be necessary to keep your parasite population under control. Make sure that all products used are safe for animals.

What to Do If Your Pet Already Has Fleas

If your pet becomes infested with fleas, it is important to bath them and apply flea prevention when dry. Cleaning all areas that your infested pet has inhabited is also important. Fleas actually jump off your pet to lay eggs in the surrounding environment, such as bedding, carpets and even the spaces between wood flooring. This means that all bedding must be washed. Carpets need to be shampooed. Any

surfaces or furniture that cannot be washed should be steam cleaned. There are also room sprays that can help kill fleas. If you elect to use these sprays, make sure the room is well ventilated and that humans or animals do not inhabit the room until the fumes of the spray have dissipated. The flea life cycle is 21 days so these areas may need to be cleaned again in a month to ensure that your pet is safe from re-infestation. This long lifecycle is another important reason to continue monthly preventatives if your pet has recently been diagnosed with fleas as re-infestation is very common if this medication is not given when due.

What to Do If Your Pet Already Has Ticks

Ticks are concerning not only because they bother your pet and consume their blood. They also can transmit diseases that can be life-threatening to your pet. If you find a tick, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. This can be done by grabbing the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible with tweezers and pulling straight out quickly. If you have any hesitation or concern about removing a tick, bring your dog or cat to The Pet Vet and we can remove it safely. After the tick is removed, keep the tick in a securely closed container and bring it to a veterinarian for identification. This can be helpful if your pet happens to get ill after a tick bite as specific ticks carry specific diseases. Knowing the tick means that we know the diseases that could potentially be causing your pet’s illness. A month after any tick exposure, a simple blood test should be performed to ensure your pet has not become positive for some of the most common tick-borne diseases. It is important to wait a full month as doing it any earlier can result in a false negative. This test can be performed at any Pet Vet Clinic and results are completed in 10 minutes.

Just a few simple steps of maintaining your yard and giving monthly preventative can greatly reduce your pet’s chance of becoming infested with uncomfortable and potentially deadly parasites. Fleas and ticks are everywhere but they should never be on your pets. The Pet Vet can help ensure that your furry friend is healthy and free of any these uncomfortable pests.

Teeth Cleaning and Dental Care: An All-Encompassing Guide For Pet Owners

Pet dental care

Although veterinarians often explain the importance of brushing, a staggering 65% of pet owners do not brush their pet’s teeth. Little do many pet owners know, failing to provide your pet with adequate dental care can lead to both short- and long-term health issues. But, never fear. Keeping your pet’s pearly whites healthy and fresh is easier than you think if you’re willing to take a “paws” and learn about the process. Here’s a quick, easy guide you can use as a pet owner to keep your pet’s teeth healthy for years to come.

Which Factors Are The Biggest Contributors To Dental Problems In Cats And Dogs?

Inflammation of the gums, the vital support structures of the teeth, is common in cats and dogs. Buildup is a slow but steady process that can cause decay, bleeding, infection, and even bone loss.

Plaque builds up quickly in a pet’s mouth, and when it is not removed in a timely manner, it hardens and turns into tartar. If an animal care doctor doesn’t remove the hardened tartar in time, it eventually contributes to bone loss and other severe damage.

How Can I Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

The key here is patience: it takes time to develop a method and routine that works! If you’ve never brushed your pet’s teeth before, it’s best to start small. First, introduce your pet to their (vet-approved) toothpaste. Letting them lick a small amount from your finger will do the trick. Most veterinarians recommend getting your pet comfortable with your hands near their mouth, as well. A rubber finger brush is a good place to start! Once your pet gets used to regular sessions with the finger brush, you can start graduating to a full-fledged toothbrush. It’s a long process in some cases, but daily cleaning is recommended to prevent and remove plaque buildup. If you can’t manage daily brushing, you should at least aim for several times per week. Feel free to offer your pet some sort of reward for letting you get the job done — although of course, it’s best to avoid treats directly after brushing.

How Can Pet Owners Prevent Dental Issues?

It’s estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. While maintaining a consistent teeth cleaning routine is essential to ward off disease and decay, it’s equally as important to make trips to your local pet clinic. Vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets, but it’s a good suggestion for younger pets as well. The fact is, visiting an experienced animal doctor is often the only way to diagnose any current or future dental issues that your pet may be suffering from.

While performing frequent visual inspections of your pet’s teeth can help you detect irregularities, only a vet at your local pet clinic has the tools needed to safely provide your pet with a safe cleaning using anesthesia. Yes, in most cases, anesthesia must be provided to allow the vet to perform a thorough examination. But don’t worry, this procedure is virtually 100% your veterinarian will ensure that the procedure is safe for your pet and it will help your pet maintain good oral health throughout their lifetime.

What Are Some External Signs That My Pet May Be Suffering From A Dental-Related Issue?

While many dental issues originate underneath the gum line and are therefore unidentifiable without dental x-rays or deep probing indistinguishable to the untrained eye, many pets may exhibit some unusual symptoms when suffering from this kind of affliction, especially when in the advanced stages. Keep an eye out for some signs of dental issues, like an abnormal chewing method, excessive drooling, or continuously dropping food from the mouth. Bad breath is also a sign of dental issues. And of course, there are the more obvious signs, including dental bleeding, darkening or breaking of teeth, swelling in areas around the mouth, and a reduced appetite. General changes in behavior or demeanor may also be cause for concern.

What Are The Risks Of Untreated Dental Or Periodontal Disease With My Pet?

Untreated dental issues do more than cause your pet pain and discomfort (though these symptoms alone should prompt you to take immediate action). Experts say that when left untreated, dental issues can grow and develop into other issues involving vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver, making early detection crucial.

What Role Does My Pet’s Food Play In Their Overall Dental Health?

While many veterinarians who specialize in dental care agree that proper brushing and veterinary care are the two primary factors of good pet dental health, your pet’s food may also play a role in the condition of their mouth and teeth. Just like human food, ingredients and foods high in carbohydrates turn to sugars and speed up the process of decay. Fortunately, your pet’s primary doctor can consider their specific dietary needs and recommend a brand or formula of food that’s best for all of your pet’s health concerns, including their dental needs.

Ultimately, it’s up to you as a responsible pet owner to stay diligent when it comes to your pet’s pearly whites. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a veterinary professional for any specific concerns about your pet. For more information about veterinary clinics that provide dental care, contact The Pet Vet.

Why Is It Important to Microchip Your Pet? What Owners Need to Know

Most households in the U.S. have at least one pet, and microchipping is becoming an increasingly popular practice to enhance the safety and everyday security of your pet should they ever get lost or stolen. While microchipping has countless benefits, many pet owners don’t quite understand how the process works because it’s relatively new. Here is what every pet owner should know.

Confirming Your Pet’s Identity

As mentioned, getting your pet microchipped helps to confirm their identity and find their way back to you if they ever get lost or stolen. Experts say that the majority of pets that have been microchipped end up being reunited with their owners when lost. On the other hand, pets that are not microchipped have a drastically lower rate of being reunited with their owners. This is true even if the pet has other forms of identity, like tags and a collar. No method of identification is 100% accurate, but microchipping is much more reliable than traditional tags.

Other Forms of Identification

While getting your pet microchipped and keeping an accurate address with the microchip company is essential to your pet’s safety and identification, it shouldn’t be the only measure you take to keep your pet protected. Collars are also helpful in identifying pets without the need for any scanning device. That being said, a collar will never be able to replace the protection and security that a microchip provides. The best solution is to use both a collar and a microchip so that your pet can be identified in as many cases as possible.

How Microchips Are Put In Place

Microchip implantation is a low-risk procedure that can be done on any healthy dog or cat during a routine checkup or wellness appointment.  Veterinarians suggest checkups every six months for older pets, and annually in healthy adult dogs over one year old. As an alternative to implanting the chip during a regularly scheduled visit (using a needle slightly larger than those used for other injections), your veterinarian can also implant the chip while your pet is under anesthesia for another procedure, such as a spay, neuter, or dental cleaning. The bottom line: microchipping is a minimally painful, quick procedure (comparable to a piercing) that can help your pet be exponentially more protected from theft and loss.

According to The Pet Vet’s, Dr. Kaitlin Agel, “once the microchip has been implanted, you will receive information on how to register the microchip.  This will allow you to link your pet to your contact information, as well as add any pertinent details about your pet’s behavior or medical history that someone might need to know if you are unreachable when your pet is first identified. You can also add a secondary contact such as a family member or your primary veterinarian to help get your pet back to you as soon as possible.”

How it works

After your pet is microchipped if your pet is lost, the person who finds them will take them to a veterinary hospital or animal shelter to start the identification process. The facility will perform a scan to determine that the pet is chipped and to obtain the microchip number. The microchip company will be contacted and they will in turn contact you using the phone number you provided when registering your pet’s microchip. The company will then give you information regarding your pet’s whereabouts and instructions on contacting the facility where your pet has been found.

Lifetime of Microchips

Newer microchips are an innovative piece of technology that can last for up to 25 years and can be scanned internationally for identification. Under normal circumstances, the chip will never need replacing, and as mentioned, veterinary facilities and shelters can determine if a pet has one by simply using a handheld scanning device. Microchipping is also very affordable: The Pet Vet charges $30 for microchips and that includes lifetime registration. Remember, it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to do all you can to keep your furry friend safe, and a microchip can go a long way in keeping your pet protected and maximizing their chance of being reunited with you if they ever go missing.

Microchipping for Indoor Cats

Indoor cats can easily escape through an open window or door, and a microchip can help confirm their identity. This is particularly important to note due to the fact that many indoor cats do not wear a collar.

“Even if your cat stays indoors, though, it’s still a good idea to have it microchipped. Indoor cats often get out of the house by mistake…If your cat doesn’t have a lot of experience with the outdoors, it’s unlikely that it will be able to navigate through unfamiliar territory. As a result, many strays in shelters may be indoor cats that got out and couldn’t find their way home,” says Animal Planet.

Natural Disasters and Crisis Situations

During natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes or wildfires, pets often become separated from their owners. This is also common during crisis situations like house fires or car wrecks. In times like these, it is imperative to have an easy way to identify pets. Collars can fall off or break but a microchip is always there. Even if your pet is an indoor pet, you cannot guarantee that circumstances out of your control will not cause you to be separated from them. Microchips are the best way to improve the chances that your pet will be returned to you in these situations.

Ultimately, knowing the facts about microchipping should be enough to convince all pet owners that it’s a great decision for their furry friends’ safety. For more information about veterinary care or to schedule your pet’s microchipping appointment, contact The Pet Vet.

Spaying/Neutering Your Cat? Don’t Fall For These Common Myths

Most households in the U.S. have at least one pet, and as a pet owner, you have to be responsible when it comes to keeping your furry friend healthy. Cats, especially, can suffer when it comes to having their needs recognized. As more independent animals, many cat owners believe they don’t need to intervene in their health as often. From good dental hygiene to keeping those claws trimmed, cats still need to be looked after. Many people believe that spaying and neutering is something that doesn’t affect their cat’s health; however, this isn’t the case. Here are a few more common myths about spaying and neutering your cat that you just shouldn’t believe.

Myth #1: All veterinary clinics will spay or neuter my pet in the same way.

Even though cats and dogs can get pregnant once they’re five months old, you can’t just walk into any vet clinic and expect them to be able to perform a spaying or neutering procedure. This procedure should only be performed at a clinic fully equipped for surgery, so take your time in researching instead of picking among cheap vets. Additionally, some low-cost places will do a spay for extra cheap, but most of them are not doing any blood work on your pet, and there are often questionable or unmonitored anesthesia protocols. At The Pet Vet, no animal undergoes any anesthetic procedure without full blood work assessing many parameters including liver and kidney function, white blood cell counts and ensuring there is no anemia or hidden infection present before surgery. It is definitely worth paying a little extra for the safety of your beloved pet.

“Both neutering and spaying … must be performed only by a licensed veterinarian. Most cats are able to resume their normal activities within a few days, and the stitches are removed after about two weeks,” writes The Purrington Post.

Myth #2: Spaying or neutering won’t change my pet’s demeanor or personality.

Both kittens and puppies can be spayed or neutered when they reach six months old, and the procedure typically does change their behavior — but not for the worse. Most of the time, spaying or neutering will make your cat calmer and more affectionate. Female cats will no longer have heat cycles every three weeks during their breeding season. Male cats, who are prone to aggression and marking their territory, typically become calmer and less territorial after neutering.

Is your cat aggressive towards other cats? After a spaying or neutering procedure, this will likely change also, fortunately for the better. In fact, cats are typically more friendly to other cats after the procedure.

Myth #3: The procedure is traumatizing for cats.

This myth could not be less true — spaying and neutering are both low-risk procedures, and there are no known negative psychological effects on male or female cats! Most animal doctors agree that it’s in your pet’s best interest. Not only does it prevent unwanted litters, but it can also help reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer and infections. Plus, if your cat roams outside, you won’t need to worry about contributing to overpopulation in your neighborhood. Countless stray cats suffer on the streets or are euthanized as a result of overpopulation. Spaying or neutering one cat could save so many others!

Myth #4: The procedure is expensive.

This is another common misconception — in most cases, the spaying and neutering processes are very affordable. The only exception would be if you have a cat that needs special treatment during the process due to other conditions. The spaying and neutering processes are important to the overall health of your cat, so the majority of animal doctors aim to make the procedure as affordable as possible. That being said, if you’re on a strict budget and are worried about having trouble financing the procedure, don’t panic. You may be able to find payment plans or finance the procedure. It may even be covered by your pet insurance. The bottom line: don’t let perceived costs deter you from making the right decision for your pet’s health.

Myth #5: My pet stays indoors, so they don’t need to be spayed/neutered.

This major misconception can actually cause health issues for pets with owners who don’t know the facts. Getting your pet spayed or neutered doesn’t just prevent accidental litters: as mentioned above, spaying and neutering present a multitude of health benefits for your cat. In female cats, there is a lower risk of mammary cancer, uterine cancer, and infections. In male cats, neutering effectively eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and prevents spraying behaviors that can cause problems in the household.

Furthermore, the aggression issues that lead to fights and injuries? They’re not limited to outdoor cats. If you have more than one cat living in the same household,  there can be an increased risk of physical injury for all cats involved even with only one unaltered cat present. Spaying and neutering can help ease these aggressive behaviors and ultimately protect your cats from some real physical harm.

Understanding the facts about spaying and neutering procedures can help you make the most informed decision for your furry friend’s health. For more information about spaying, neutering, or any other procedures your cat may need, please book an appointment with one of our veterinarians today.