dog

Keep Worms out of Your Pet’s Heart

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease. Approximately 1 million pets in the US have heartworm disease. It’s caused by foot-long roundworms that settle into the heart, blood vessels, and lungs of an affected pet. These worms can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease can cause lasting damage to a dog’s health and quality of life even after the parasites are gone. It takes 6-7 months for larvae to mature to adulthood where it begins its reproduction cycle. A single heartworm can live up to seven years. 

Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms, meaning that heartworms live inside the dog mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. Dogs can have several hundred worms in their body. Heartworm disease in cats is very different. Cats are atypical hosts for heartworms, meaning most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats typically have just one to three worms. 

How do Pets Get Heartworm Disease?

Mosquitos are the most common carrier of heartworm and play an essential role in transmission. Female mosquitos pick up larvae in the bloodstream of infected animals and then transmit the larvae to the next animal it bites. Unfortunately, all it takes is one bite. Once inside the new host, it takes about 6 months for the larvae to develop into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5-7 years in dogs and 2-3 years in cats. 

What are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

Signs of Infection in Dogs: In the early stages of the disease, many dogs show few symptoms or no symptoms at all, making it almost impossible to notice in dogs, which is why testing is so important. The longer the infection persists, the more likely symptoms will develop. 

  • Coughing
  • Easily fatigued
  • Lethargic
  • Lack of interest in play or exercise
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

How can Heartworm Disease be Prevented?

Regular heartworm testing is key. All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection, which can be done during a routine visit or a low-cost Wellness Clinic, like Planned PEThood. Even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, they should still be tested annually to ensure that the prevention is working. 

A monthly preventative is recommended and gives your dog the best chance of avoiding these parasites. Heartworm preventative is available only by prescription through a veterinarian. Some preventatives also protect against other types of parasites. 

Puppies under 7 months can be started on heartworm prevention without a test, but should then be tested 6 months after starting the preventative. Adult dogs over 7 months and dogs previously not on a preventative need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention. If there has been a lapse in prevention (one or more late or missed doses), dogs should be tested.

FAQ About Heartworm Preventatives:

Can Heartworm be Treated?

Yes, heartworm can be treated, but it is an expensive and complex process that is extremely tough on the dog. The earlier the disease is detected, the better. 

How Do Monthly Heartworm Preventatives Work?

Monthly preventatives work by eliminating any immature heartworm parasites. Because the preventative cannot effectively eliminate juvenile or adult larvae, it is important to administer heartworm on a strict schedule. 

Do I Need a Prescription for Heartworm Preventative?

Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that heartworm preventatives must be purchased from your veterinarian or with a prescription from a pet pharmacy. 

Are Heartworms More Common in Certain Areas of the US?

Heartworms have been found in all 50 states. Weather (temperature and humidity) and the presence of mosquito breeding areas both affect the level of risk of heartworm infection. 

Learn more about heartworm disease.

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$10,000 Gifted In Honor of 10,000th Surgery

We have a HUGE announcement and accomplishment to share! Last month, the Planned PEThood surgery team helped talented veterinarian, Dr. Murphy, perform her 10,000th surgery at Planned PEThood of Georgia. In honor of the incredible accomplishment, Fix Georgia Pets and Georgia Pet Foundation generously donated $10,000 to help our spay/neuter efforts as we continue our mission to help Georgia’s pets. 

Planned PEThood’s surgery team makes an incredible, positive impact on the pet overpopulation crisis. Across Georgia, thousands of dogs and cats end up in animal shelters each year and are killed for lack of space and existing homes. This puts an immense burden on animal shelters, who work tirelessly to provide care for way too many unwanted animals. Pet overpopulation is not just a shelter problem, it’s a community problem, typically caused by uncontrolled breeding. Fortunately, there is a simple solution – please make sure that all of your pets and those of family and friends are spayed or neutered. Planned PEThood offers affordable, accessible spay/neuter services to help make it happen.

In addition to our extensive spay/neuter efforts for pet owners, Planned PEThood continues to make a tremendous impact on animals in rural shelters and communities across Georgia. Our unique Go Fix Georgia program is dedicated to improving spay/neuter access to rural animal shelters and underserved communities across Georgia. Each week, animals from various rural animal shelters travel to Planned PEThood’s Duluth clinic, where our veterinary team performs spay/neuter surgeries and, on occasion, emergency procedures, before safely transporting these animals to their shelters where they await their forever homes. While these rural counties do not have access to affordable veterinary care options, Planned PEThood of Georgia is here to help. 

The generous gift from Fix Georgia Pets and Georgia Pet Foundation will help Planned PEThood continue to provide low-cost, affordable spay/neuter services to pet owners and these rural shelters. Fix Georgia Pets strives to provide strategic grants and solutions for spay/neuter programs to help end pet overpopulation and stop the euthanasia of healthy animals in Georgia. Georgia Pet Foundation is committed to making Georgia a no-kill state. To accomplish this goal, we must end pet overpopulation. The most effective means of doing so is providing widespread low-cost, statewide spay/neuter programs. Georgia Pet Foundation is the sponsor organization for the Spay Neuter license plate and uses these funds for spay/neuter grants. By purchasing a Georgia Pet Foundation License plate, you help fund free and low-cost spay and neuter programs across the state. Learn how to purchase a Georgia Pet Foundation License Plate and help save lives today.

Learn more about Fix Georgia Pets and Georgia Pet Foundation.

We want to give a huge THANK YOU to Fix Georgia Pets and Georgia Pet Foundation for their amazing gift. Their generous donation will help save lives and keep pets with their families.

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Benefits of Spay and Neuter

February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month! A whole month dedicated to encouraging people to save animals’ lives by spaying and neutering pets and community cats. Here at Planned PEThood of Georgia, we love to encourage spaying and neutering every day!

There are dozens of benefits of spaying and neutering your pets, but they can be divided into three main categories: health, behavior, and population control.

  1. Eliminate unwanted behaviors.Spaying and neutering can have a big impact on your pet’s behavior. Spayed and neutered animals are less prone to spraying and marking and may even stop it altogether. Spaying/neutering also reduces the urge to roam, especially when females are in heat. Less roaming will make your pet less likely to be injured in fights or auto accidents and decrease the risk of contracting diseases. Spay/neuter also reduces aggressive behavior, including biting.
  2. Help your pet’s health. The chances are greatly reduced that your pet will get several serious, life-threatening, and expensive health problems. Spaying/neutering reduces or eliminates the risk of certain cancers, such as uterine, breast, or testicular cancer. It can also eliminate pyometra, a very severe infection of the uterus, andeliminate prostate problems in male dogs. Spaying and neutering your pets will increase his/her chances of a longer and healthier life. Altering your pet will increase their lifespan by an average of 1-3 years for dogs and 3-5 years for felines. The life expectancy of spayed/neutered pets is up to 26% longer than that of intact pets, according to the University of Georgia.
  1. Help prevent pet overpopulation.Spaying/neutering is the only way to reduce the number of unwanted litters. In the greater Atlanta area, thousands of dogs and cats end up in animal shelters each year and are killed for lack of space and lack of existing homes. Unwanted litters place a tremendous burden on shelters. Many times we tend to blame the animal shelters, but pet overpopulation is a community problem. There is a simple solution – be a responsible pet guardian and make sure that all of your pets and those of family and friends are spayed or neutered.

At Planned PEThood, we offer low-cost spay/neuter options to help keep pet ownership affordable and to keep pets with their families. Learn more about our services and book an appointment today!

If your pets are already spayed/neutered, spread the word and put your support behind this important cause. The more people that know about the importance of spay and neuter, the better!

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Help for 240 Habersham County Pets and Their Parents

In December, Habersham County pet owners and their pets received much-needed assistance. Planned PEThood’s team, Go Fix Georgia, teamed up with Habersham County Animal Care and Control to host a Community Pet Clinic offering, free vet care and supplies to pet owners in need, just in time for the holidays.

The need for outreach events like this was obvious as people started to line up hours before the event even started. Our team and Habersham’s team worked tirelessly helping a continuous line of animals whose owners drove through the pop-up event. It was brutally cold and the wind made things hard for our team, but we persevered. In just over four hours, we were able to see 240 adorable, deserving pets. That’s 20% more than what we promised! 

We are thrilled that we were able to help so many cats and dogs receive free vaccines, microchips, flea preventative, pet supplies, and more. More than half of the pets served applied for spay and neuter vouchers which demonstrates a huge need for the service in the county. Providing spay and neuter services helps with reducing the overcrowding pressures animal shelters face.

There were many amazing organizations and volunteers who came together to help make this event such a success. THANK YOU ALL! Our team could not have done it without the assistance of Habersham County Animal Care and Control and the Allen Family, who sponsored this incredible event. Without their contributions, this event would not have been possible. We hope to work with Habersham County Animal Care and Control to help more pets and people in Habersham County in the future. 

Other Assistance Provided By: Atlanta Humane Society and Petco Love

Make sure to check our emails and social media for upcoming outreach event dates. We are always looking for partner companies or individuals to sponsor outreach events. Please email tweaver@PEThoodGA.org if you or your company might be interested in giving back.

Read more about the event in this excellent article that explains the need for community outreach events.

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Sometimes Surgeries Aren’t Always What They Seem

Last week, we had an incredible shelter day!

Our Go Fix Georgia Program helped 60 shelter cats and dogs with spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, and even a couple of special surgeries. 

We wanted to highlight a very sweet, special pup we saw, Strawberry! Strawberry arrived at Planned PEThood early Thursday morning from one of our partner shelters. She was on our schedule for a straightforward spay surgery. However, upon sedation, we found a huge stick, embedded in the roof of her mouth. Ouch! Can you imagine how much pain she must have been in prior to surgery?

Our veterinary team quickly managed to remove the large stick and move forward with Strawberry’s spay surgery. We have no doubt she felt so much relief upon waking up! Now, Strawberry has headed back to Hall County Animal Shelter pain-free, ready to find her forever home! This lovable pup is available for adoption through Hall County.

This is just one of many unique cases that our vet team encounters on shelter days. This team not only provides expert medical care but also a loving touch for the dogs and cats that come to our facility. Spay/neuter, medical care, and life-saving surgeries for shelter animals are at the heart of our Go Fix Georgia Program.

Just a friendly reminder, NEVER let your dog chew on bones (chicken, steak, etc.) or sticks as they can splinter, become lodged like this, or be swallowed and puncture through the digestive tract. Let’s keep our fur babies safe!

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Gwinnett County Residents and Their Pets Get the Help They Need!

This October, Gwinnett County pet owners and their pets received much-needed assistance. Planned PEThood’s outreach team, Go Fix Georgia, teamed up with Subaru of Gwinnett and Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement to provide free veterinary care and pet supplies to pet owners in need. 

Our team saw a whopping 322 adorable, deserving pets in just over four hours! That’s a whole lot of good in such a short time! In total, we were able to help 207 dogs and 115 cats. We’re thrilled that we were able to help so many dogs and cats receive free vaccines, microchips, flea medication, pet supplies, and more. Even more impressive is that 61% of pets were unaltered and 32% had never been to a vet before. Now, they have basic medical care and will be sterilized within the next few months. 

The need for outreach events like this was abundantly clear. Tons of people lined up early in the morning, some getting there hours before the event started. Owning a pet right now is hard as vet care and supply prices continue to grow. Vet care might be the last thing you can afford. These events help ensure the wellness of pets in the community and reduce overpopulation through free spay/neuter. We plan to continue working with Gwinnett County and other counties to host outreach events like this in the future. 

There were so many amazing organizations and volunteers who came together to help make this event successful. Without their support, this would never have been possible. Our Go Fix Georgia team could not have done it without our event sponsor, Subaru of Gwinnett and the ASPCA & Subaru Loves Pets Grant. Not only does Subaru of Gwinnett put their company’s name and resources behind animal welfare efforts, but they are also personally committed to the cause. It’s incredible of them to celebrate their ‘Subaru Loves Pets’ month by helping the underdogs right in our community. 

Other Assistance: Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement, Atlanta Humane SocietyPetco Love

Make sure to check our emails and social media for upcoming outreach event dates. We are always looking for partner companies or individuals to sponsor outreach events. Please email tweaver@PEThoodGA.org if you or your company might be interested in giving back.

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After Searching and Searching, Biggie Finally Found His Forever Home

After over a year in our foster program and waiting and waiting, Biggie Smalls finally found his perfect forever home!

Poor Biggie was originally dumped at a high-kill shelter. It didn’t take long for him to be adopted, but he was abandoned soon after that. A fellow rescuer reached out to Planned PEThood for help after finding Biggie alone, living on a porch, left to fend for himself. He had been ditched by his owners. Can you imagine how scared he must have been? Luckily, Biggie was a good boy and jumped right into his rescuer’s car, not making a peep the entire two-hour car ride. 

During the neglect he endured, Biggie’s skin was a mess from head to toe. He was infested with fleas and developed a terrible skin infection. This poor baby only wanted to be loved. With a little TLC and the help of his foster mom, Jess, our Adoption Manager, we were able to get his skin back to normal. 

Biggie waited so patiently for a home of his own. He even thought he found his forever home in time for Christmas last year, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. His foster mom stayed by his side this entire time, helping Biggie stay positive. We knew Biggie would eventually find the perfect home because he is the sweetest, goofiest, easiest pup who simply wants a nice couch to chill on. After over a year of searching, he finally found it!

This sweet family had been on the search for the right pup and eventually came across Biggie’s profile. They knew they had to meet Biggie and just like they thought, it was love at first sight! Biggie will have three human siblings and the biggest, comfiest couch he’s been dreaming of. 

We couldn’t be more excited for Biggie and his new family! Wishing you the happiest life Biggie!

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Injured Dog Loses Eye, But Gains Loving Home

Katie and Bella Donna

A few months ago, this sweetheart 4-month-old pup, Bella Donna, arrived from Habersham County Animal Shelter through our Go Fix Georgia program. Sadly, she had been surrendered to the shelter with the most horrendous eye injury. Trust us, you really don’t want to see the image. However, Habersham knew our Go Fix Georgia program at Planned PEThood would be able to help!

Bella Donna headed to Planned PEThood on our Thursday shelter day to get her eye removed and her spay surgery, ready to start a healthier, happier life! With as much pain as she had to be in, she was begging for cuddles and belly rubs from staff both before and after surgery. 

One of our amazing vet techs, Katie, couldn’t stand the thought of her recovering alone in a kennel, so she took her home for the evening for one-on-one care. Just for a few days, of course. The plan was to return her to Habersham the next morning so Bella Donna could find her forever home. But love wins and sweet Bella Donna won the lottery!

Congrats to Katie and her new puppy! We love watching happily ever after happen to our Planned PEThood family and shelter pets!

Go Fix Georgia is a program dedicated to improving spay/neuter access to rural animal shelters and their communities throughout Georgia. Starting with Newton County Animal Control in 2019, this program ensures that more animals leave these shelters sterilized, and vaccinated. There is one rule we require when working with a shelter- every animal that enters the Go Fix Georgia program is guaranteed safety! That means these animals will either be adopted or placed with a rescue group. In the four years since beginning our program, we have expanded to five county shelters and helped to provide spay and neuter surgeries for over 5,000 lucky dogs and cats in Georgia.

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Lost Pet Prevention Month: How You Can Help Your Pet

Pets are a part of the family. The last thing you want is for something to separate them from you – a door is left open, your dog slips out of its collar, or your cat takes an unapproved field trip without you. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point in their lifetime. Tragically, many of these pets may not ever find their way back home. Losing a pet is like losing a loved one. It’s an experience no one should ever have to go through. National Lost Pet Prevention Month serves as the perfect reminder to make sure your pet stays safe and doesn’t get lost. 

Here are 6 helpful tips to make sure you don’t lose your pet: 

1. Microchip your pets. Microchipping is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to increase the chances that your pet will return home if lost. A microchip is a tiny electronic chip, about the size of a grain of rice, that is injected under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. When scanned by a microchip scanner, the microchip transmits an identification number. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics scan a pet’s microchip to get this identification number, then contact the registry in order to find contact information for the owners. The unique identification number doesn’t do any good unless you register it with a National Pet Recovering Database with your up-to-date contact information. Not sure which company to call? Type in your pet’s chip number at https://old.petmicrochiplookup.org/. Can’t find your pet’s chip number? Come by our clinic or any clinic and just ask them to check it for you. Planned PEThood offers microchips through our Spay/Neuter Clinic and our Wellness Clinic for only $25 and that includes registration. 

2. Get a secure collar with ID tags. While your pet may never travel farther than your backyard or may never go outside at all, all pets should wear a collar with an ID. The ID should have their owner’s current contact information, including your pet’s name, your name, address, and phone number. You never know when your furry friend might make a mad dash out the door to investigate something. It’s important to check your dog’s collar routinely to make sure it’s still in proper shape. Collars can become loose and fall off or become torn. Tags are available at most pet stores and even many Walmart locations. 

3. Use leashes and carriers when outside the house. It’s important to use leashes or carriers when visiting the vet or when venturing outside. When you have your pets outside and not confined by a fenced yard, keep them on a leash. This will ensure they don’t run off to chase a squirrel and end up getting lost. This is especially important when you’re away from home in unfamiliar territory.

4. Secure your yard and home. One of the most common ways pets get lost is when they escape their yard. Make sure to routinely check the fencing around your yard to ensure they can’t wiggle through it or dig their way out. From fallen limbs to flash floods, many things can cause fences to become insecure, making it easier to escape. 

5. Make sure to spay/neuter your pets. Sterilizing your cat/dog reduces his/her urge to roam and get lost. When male pets aren’t neutered, they have a higher tendency to seek out females. This means that an unneutered pet is more likely to wander off from home and get lost trying to seek out female dogs. Female dogs also benefit from spaying surgery. Aggressive males can cause females to bolt. Male pets that haven’t been neutered also experience behavioral issues that make them less likely to recall or listen to commands. 

6. Pay attention to your pet. Paying attention to your pet is an easy way to prevent your pet from getting lost. No matter where you take your pet, you should pay attention to them and their surroundings, especially in unfamiliar locations. Your pet should always be in eyesight of you. Whether they’re in your backyard, at a dog park, or visiting friends or family, supervising your pets will prevent them from escaping. 

Keeping your pets safe, happy, and healthy is the most important thing you can do. Even if you believe you are the safest pet parent in the world, it’s a good idea to review these tips. While you’re at it, give them a big hug!

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Microchipping: What It Is and Why You Should Do It

Pets are a part of the family. If something were to separate them from you – a door is left open, your dog slips out of its collar, or your cat takes an unapproved field trip without you – you’d want a way to reunite with them as quickly as possible, right? Microchipping is a safe, easy, and inexpensive way to significantly increase the chances of your pet’s reunion should the unthinkable happen.

1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point in their lifetime. Tragically, many of these pets may not ever find their way home without a little help. A microchip can mean the difference between being reunited with your furry friend and never seeing them again. We occasionally see cats brought into our Spay/Neuter clinic for our TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) services that are thought to be stray cats. That doesn’t always end up being the case. Sometimes these “stray” cats are actually missing pets and because of their microchip, we are able to reunite them with their owner, like in Cali’s story. We wouldn’t be able to have these happy reunions without microchips. 

Did You Know? 

Here are some disturbing, but true facts about lost animals:

  • Dogs without microchips are reunited with their owners only 2.2% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs are returned 52.2% of the time.
  • Cats without microchips are reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats make it back home 38.5% of the time.
  • Microchipped pets are over 20 times more likely to be reunited with their families, making microchipping extremely worthwhile.
  • 1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point in their lifetime.

How Microchips Work

A microchip is a tiny electronic chip, about the size of a grain of rice, that is injected under your pet’s skin, typically between the shoulders. The procedure only takes a few seconds. While it’s not entirely painless, it doesn’t hurt any more than getting a vaccine. The microchip is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area. Each microchip has an identification number. When the microchip is scanned by a vet or shelter, it transmits this number. Animal shelters and veterinary clinics scan a pet’s microchip to get this identification number, then contact the registry to find contact information for the owners. The microchip is NOT a GPS device and cannot track your animal if they get lost. 

Importance of Registering Your Information and Keeping It Up to Date

HERE’S THE CATCH – the unique identification number doesn’t do any good UNLESS you register it with a National Pet Recovering Database. When you register your pet’s microchip, you should enter all relevant contact information. Remember to keep your contact information up-to-date! A microchip greatly increases the chances of your pet being reunited with you if they get lost, BUT, only if your information is up to date! Not sure which company to call? Type in your pet’s chip number in microchiplookup.org Can’t find your pet’s chip number? Come by our clinic or any clinic and just ask them to check it for you. As long as you don’t mind waiting a bit, practically every clinic will do this as a free service for you. 

Where to Get Microchips

Planned PEThood offers microchips through our Spay/Neuter Clinic and our Wellness Clinic for only $25 and that includes registration. Most other veterinary clinics offer this service as well, ranging from $25-$75. 

Another great resource to help find your pet is Petco Love Lost. Petco Love Lost helps reunite lost pets with their families. Simply enter a photo of your missing pet and search their national lost and found database to find them. Learn more about Petco Love Lost.

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