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Health & Safety


Dog with rabies visited Zilker Park, Ausint, February 8th. Read the entire story.

Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

If your dog spends time in the yard, make sure there is plenty of fresh water and shade. A kiddie pool is inexpensive and serves as drinking water and a place to cool off. Change the water frequently so mosquitos do not start breeding.

When walking your dog, please remember the ground radiates heat, especially on pavement and this affects the dog more than us, especially short dogs. The pavement is also very hot on the pads of their feet. Bring water along for your dog. Keep your dog cool by misting him gently with a squirt bottle. Periodically stop in the shade and give your dog a rest.

Water activates are fun for everybody. Remember, not all dogs are created equal. When going to the river keep in mind the physical condition and age of your dog. Not all dogs have webbed feet for swimming, and when on a boat all dogs should have a life vest. In case of emergency the shore can be a long swim for a dog and they do panic with deathly results.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR. It is fun to take your dog with you for a drive. Most dogs love a car ride. If you do find yourself in a position where you have to run into the store, keep the car running with the A/C on. Even though it may seem like you’re running in the store for a quick errand, temperatures in a car can easily reach in to the 120’s and higher after mere minutes. Dogs overheat quickly in a car even if the windows are cracked open. It is against the law to leave your dog in a locked car. Please be responsible.

Signs of Heat Stroke

Excessive panting, excessive drooling and thick saliva, frantic breathing, tongue and gums are bright red, vomiting, staggering, confusion and collapse. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, cool them down with water immediately, use a water hose, wet towels or place them in the bathtub. Get them into the air conditioning either in your house or your car. Take your dog to the Veterinarian immediately. It is a matter of life and death.


Summer means fireworks, fun for us and a nightmare for many dogs. Please think of your dogs and how terrifying fireworks can be. To protect your pet on the Fourth of July, take these precautions:

  • Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.
  • Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects—even death—in a few short minutes. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, but they do provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen. This is also against the law.
  • Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.
  • If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.
  • Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Lost & Found calls triple during fireworks and your dog will be returned to you quicker if they have some kind of ID tag on them. Even better, microchip your dog.
  • Riding around with your dog in the back of your pick-up truck in the summer is cruel. Standing on metal, sun beating down, no shade and wearing a fur coat. That is animal cruelty.


What is Parvo?

Parvo is a common and potentially serious viral disease in dogs. The virus is officially known Parvovirus. It affects puppies much more frequently than it affects adult dogs. Parvo is highly contagious to unprotected dogs. Parvovirus is specific to dogs alone and cannot be transmitted to humans or other pets of a different species, such as cats.

What are the signs seen with Parvovirus infection?

The onset of clinical signs is usually sudden, often 12 hours or less. The incubation from exposure to seeing the clinical signs varies from 3 to 10 days. There are three main manifestations of Parvovirus infection:

  1. Asymptomatic – No signs seen. Common in dogs over 1 year old and vaccinated dogs.
  2. Cardiac – This form of the disease is much less common than the intestinal form due to widespread vaccination. Severe inflammation and necrosis (cell death), of the heart muscle causes breathing difficulty and death in very young (less than 8 weeks of age) puppies. Older dogs that survive this form have scarring in the heart muscle.
  3. Intestinal – This virus causes extreme damage to the intestinal tract, causing sloughing of the cells that line the tract. This can leave the patient open to secondary bacterial infection. Most of the affected dogs (85%) are less than one year old and between 6-20 weeks old — before the full set of vaccinations can be given. The death rate from infection is reported to be 16-35% in this age group.

The intestinal signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea – usually bloody, and very foul-smelling (a characteristic odor, particular to Parvovirus infection)
  • Fever

How is Parvovirus infection diagnosed?

This disease is diagnosed by physical examination, signalment (age, vaccination status, breed, etc.), and a fecal Parvo (ELISA) test. Additional diagnostics include blood work and radiographs. Dogs infected with Parvo typically have a low white count. Generally, it takes 7-10 days from the time of exposure for dogs and puppies to start showing symptoms and to test positive for parvo.

How is Parvovirus infection treated?

There is no specific treatment for the Parvovirus at this time. Treatment is supportive care, which includes any or all of the following:

  • Oral electrolyte fluids – if the case is mild and the animal isn’t vomiting
  • Subcutaneous (SQ) or intravenous (IV) fluids to maintain hydration in the face of the extreme fluid losses from vomiting and diarrhea that are so typical with this disease
  • Anti-vomiting/nausea medications – to prevent further damage from vomiting and to keep the patient comfortable as possible.
  • Antibiotics – because the virus has potential to slough the intestinal tract, antibiotics help protect against secondary infection.
  • Blood or Plasma transfusions – to replace protein loss, provide antibodies, help with anemia.

Many puppies infected with Parvovirus need to be hospitalized for supportive care. Hospitalization is typically about 5 days, sometimes longer. Surviving the first three days is usually a good sign for long term survival.

How long does Parvovirus last in the environment?

The Parvovirus family of viruses are particularly long-lived in the environment, lasting anywhere from 1 to 7 months — commonly surviving 5-7 months in an outside environment. Due to the large amounts of virus particles shed in the feces of an infected dog (shedding lasts two weeks or more after exposure) and the longevity of the virus, complete eradication of the virus is often impossible.

The Virus can withstand wide temperature ranges and most cleaning agents. Parvo can be brought home to your dog on shoes, hands and even car tires. Dogs and puppies can contract parvo even if they never leave their yard. Parvo virus, despite what you might hear, is NOT an airborne virus. It is excreted in the feces of infected dogs, and if someone — human, dog, bird, etc. — steps in (or otherwise comes in contact with) the feces, the possibility for contamination is great. Be sure to keep feces (and any vomitus) picked up in the yard and kennel area as well.

How can I disinfect an area contaminated by a dog infected with Parvovirus?

There are many Parvovirus disinfectants on the market, but regular old bleach is still 100% effective against Parvovirus. The dilution for bleach is one part bleach to 30 parts water. Caution is advised for dyed or colored fabrics or objects. This should go without saying, but to be complete, DO NOT use a bleach preparation on the animal at any time!!! The commercial Parvovirus disinfectants have the advantage of better smelling preparations. See your vet or pet store for the various disinfectants available.

How can I protect my dog from becoming infected?

Vaccination is the key to prevent this disease and protect your dog. Breeding bitches should be vaccinated prior to becoming pregnant to ensure that the pups get the best start at immunity. Vaccinations should start at 6 weeks of age, and should have booster at 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age. Some veterinarians also booster at 20 weeks, depending on the breed and Parvovirus risk in your area. Speak with your veterinarian about what vaccination protocol is the best for your pet and your lifestyle.

I heard that some breeds of dogs are more susceptible, is this true?

Yes, it appears that some breeds, most notably the Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, and Labrador Retrievers are at an increased risk for this disease. Conversely, Toy Poodles and Cockers appear to be at a reduced risk for contracting this disease. ** It is important to remember, however, that any breed can get Parvovirus. Be sure to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.

Canine Heartworm Disease

Heartworms are a severe problem in Texas, along with the rest of the United States. Heartworms have been found in all 50 states, and continues to spread. Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitus) are literally worms that invade a dog’s heart and lung vessels.

Heartworms are transmitted via female mosquitoes. IT ONLY TAKES ONE MOSQUITO BITE! The mosquito bites an infected dog and then the mosquito harbors the parasite. When they bite another dog the parasite is transmitted to that dog. If the dog is not on heartworm preventative, infestation will result. All dogs, regardless of breed or housing location (indoor or out, by water or not) are equally susceptible to this disease.

Adult heartworms move into the bloodstream to take up residence in the dog’s heart. These adults reproduce more microfilaria and the cycle continues, producing more and more adult worms in the dog’s heart. The entire maturation cycle can take up to 6 months.

Heartworm disease represents a serious health risk to the animal. The worms interfere with the normal blood flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs. If left untreated heartworms reduce the dogs quality of life, cause congestive heart failure, organ damage and ultimately death.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of heartworm disease vary depending on the duration of infection. Dogs may not show any signs in the early stages. As the heartworms grow and mature, symptoms include fatigue, tiring easily after exercise, occasional to persistent cough and anemia. As the case advances, congestive heart failure may develop along with liver, kidney and blood flow problems.

If your dog is diagnosed with heartworms, they can be treated. However, treatment is very costly (up to 5 times the cost of a year’s supply of prevention) painful & traumatic on the dog, compared to prevention. The drug used for treatment is Melarsomine, administered via deep intramuscular injection into lumbar muscles, and is the only drug approved by the FDA for heartworm treatment. This treatment method consists of giving a series of three injections of an arsenic based drug to kill the adult worms. Regardless of the stage of the disease, the three-injection alternative protocol is the treatment of choice of the American Heartworm Society, due to the increased safety and efficacy benefits and decreased possibility that further treatment with Melarsomine would be necessary. Furthermore, by initially killing fewer worms and completing the treatment in two stages, the cumulative impact of worm emboli on severely diseased pulmonary arteries and lungs is reduced.

Heartworm Disease is Completely Preventable

There are several products are on the market today which prevent heartworms by killing the microfilaria. Most are given in a single monthly dose. The medication must be given year round for the remainder of the dogs’ life, most especially in Texas. Puppies should be started on heartworm prevention as early as possible, preferably no later than ten weeks of age. There is also a one year injectable heartworm prevention.

All dogs should be tested annually for heartworms. Currently available heartworm antigen tests detect protein secreted mainly by adult female worms. The earliest that heartworm antigen and microfilaria can be detected is about five to six months post-infection. Thus, there is no need or justification for testing a dog for antigen or microfilaria prior to about six months of age.

WAG Rescue tests all of our dogs for heartworms and each dog is given heartworm preventative monthly along with flea & tick preventative. We also treat all of our dogs that come to us heartworm positive before they are adopted out. Please read about Milo.

For more information on heartworms, please visit the Heartworm Society website.