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Heartworm Prevention in the Winter

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm Prevention | Dr. Charles Whitworth | Madison, ALHeartworm disease is a very serious condition that affects dogs, cats, and other mammals. This sometimes-fatal condition is caused by parasitic worms inside of the arteries of the lungs and in the right side of the heart. Numerous species of roundworms can cause heartworm disease, including filarids. Vital organs in the animal’s body are harmed while the worms are traveling through the bloodstream. Heartworm disease mainly occurs when an animal comes in contact with an infected mosquito. This is primarily the reason why many people believe their beloved pets are safe during the cold winter months. The truth is that heartworm can affect animals all year round, which is why heartworm prevention is important.

When an animal has heartworm, they will usually display many symptoms that include coughing, vomiting, weight loss, and labored breathing. They also might be very listless and not move around a lot. In the very early stages of the disease, the animal may not experience any symptoms other than a slight cough. During this stage, it is very hard to detect because the animal will usually appear to be happy and healthy. The second stage of the disease is when the symptoms start to pop up and become noticeable. This is when pet owners start to really notice that something is wrong. Stage three and four is when the symptoms are more severe, such as coughing up blood. By stage four of the disease, there is a chance the animal will have long-term implications to their health. If a pet owner notices that their animal is acting differently, they should take them to the vet as soon as possible for an examination.

Heartworm is easily preventable, even in the winter or the summer months. Madison, Alabama residents can take their pets to Whitworth Animal Clinic to get their pet checked out. A veterinarian will prescribe pills that are effective at preventing heartworm disease. The pills are administered monthly, and should be given to the animal all year long. Many pet owners just give their pets the heartworm medication during the summer months, but the American Heartworm Society recommends that pet owners give the medicine to their pets every month.

Heartworm prevention is absolutely essential to making sure your pet does not get this sometimes-fatal disease. Heartworm is treatable in most cases with a series of injections into the muscle of the animal. It is much safer and easier for a pet owner to take the extra steps to prevent heartworm, even in the winter months.

Happy Thanksgiving! from Whitworth Animal Clinic

Whitworth Animal Clinic
Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Food for Your Dog to Avoid

10 Thanksgiving Foods that are Dangerous for Your Dog!

For most families, Thanksgiving means a mixture of food, fun, and football. But with all the feasting, dog owners need to be on the lookout for their clever friend sneaking a snack when everyone is passed out for the customary afternoon nap.

Although, giving your dog a slice of turkey or ham isn’t an problem, the following list of traditional Thanksgiving fare can be harmful for the furry member of your family and should be avoided:

  • Bones
  • Raw or undercooked turkey
  • Turkey Skin
  • Dough or Cake batter
  • Beer
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Sage
  • Nutmeg
  • Chocolate

The best way to make sure your dog stays healthy this Thanksgiving is to make sure you keep them well fed with appropriate food. Besides, if you give them a few suitable treats, we bet they’ll be more than willing to help you with that afternoon nap you have planned.


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Pets need dental care too!

As early as age two, pets may already have tartar and plaque build-up on their teeth. Whitworth Animal Clinic offers veterinary dentistry.
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Thanksgiving Foods Your Dog Should Avoid

Thanksgiving Foods to Avoid

Tips on Thanksgiving food and your pet | Whitworth Animal ClinicFor most families, Thanksgiving means a mixture of food, fun, and football. But with all the feasting, dog owners need to be on the lookout for their clever friend sneaking a snack when everyone is passed out for the customary afternoon nap.

Although, giving your dog a slice of turkey or ham isn’t an problem, the following list of traditional Thanksgiving fare can be harmful for the furry member of your family and should be avoided:

  • Bones
  • Raw or undercooked turkey
  • Turkey Skin
  • Dough or Cake batter
  • Beer
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Sage
  • Nutmeg
  • Chocolate

The best way to make sure your dog stays healthy this Thanksgiving is to make sure you keep them well fed with appropriate food. Besides, if you give them a few suitable treats, we bet they’ll be more than willing to help you with that afternoon nap you have planned.

For more information about taking care of your dog this Thanksgiving, read more from our veterinarian blog.

Significant Health Problems of the Senior Feline

geriatric cat care | Whitworth Animal Clinic | Huntsville, ALAs animals begin to age, they are susceptible to a wide range of potential health problems that can range from the mild to the severe. As our pet’s guardians, we must be on the lookout for signs of disease as our cats enter their senior years. Many of the diseases that affect older cats do have treatments available if the diseases are detected in the earlier stages.


Cancer affects both dogs and cats as they age. It is the major killer of both cats and dogs. Cat owners should check their pets for signs of tumor growth on the skin by looking for moles or spots of an unusual color or with an irregular margin.

If your cat is eating less or drinking less water, that may be a sign of cancer of the internal organs. There may be signs of significant weight loss. The cat may also avoid contact with the owner or exhibit signs of pain when handled or petted.

There are cancer treatments available. Surgical procedures can remove tumors, and chemotherapy is available for cats. It is highly effective for some forms of cancer.

Renal Failure

Senior cats are often troubled by kidney malfunction. If your cat’s kidneys stop working properly, it can lead to infections. One of the major signs of kidney disease is excessive thirst. The cat just can’t seem to get enough water. The cat may have frequent urination, as well. In some instances of kidney failure, cats will stop drinking and become dehydrated.

Renal failure is not curable in cats, but the progression of the disease can be slowed with appropriate treatment. Fluids given subcutaneously are often part of the treatment process, and there are drugs available to help the kidneys function more efficiently.

Dental Disease

Gum disease is prevalent in the senior cat population. Tartar build up often leads to infections, and this can lead to tooth loss. Cats with significant gum disease often eat less, and they may be lethargic.

Check your cat’s teeth for tartar build up. Dr. Whitworth can easily remove tartar and prevent tooth loss.


Hyperthyroidism is a common problem in older cats. It is caused when the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormones. Cats with hyperthyroidism often exhibit excessive thirst or appetite. Upon examination, the cat may have an irregular heart rhythm. This condition is treated by either removing the thyroid or irradiating it. Sometimes, medication is used to control the condition.

If you happen to notice any of these signs in your elderly cat, the staff at Whitworth Animal Clinic is here to help. Please give us a call to discuss your options and set up an appointment to have your furry family member checked out! Just like humans early detection is the key to solving some of the these health issues.

Does Your Dog Suffer From Separation Anxiety?

Dog Separation Anxiety

dog separation anxiety | Whitworth Animal Clinic | Madison, AL

Separation anxiety is a real illness in dogs.

Like flawless individuals, flawless animals don’t exist. Separation anxiety is a very real illness. It’s a pet’s inflated terror over parting from its owners.

Autumn can entail less time with cherished relatives, mostly those who will be in school all day, and that can initiate separation anxiety in dogs.

Frequently, indications of minor separation anxiety are overlooked by owners as they have a tendency to happen when we are not home or are believed as merely being an indication that our pet adores us.


Dogs in danger of separation anxiety might:

  • Often pursue an owner’s interest during the day
  • Shadow owner(s) around the residence
  • Pursue consolation from owners when something unforeseen happens
  • Welcome owners boisterously once they get home

Indications of established separation anxiety consist of:

  • Yapping, whining, or yowling when left alone
  • Damaging actions
  • Getaway efforts through or around doors, windows, enclosures, barriers, etc.

If you think that your dog might have separation anxiety, it is vital to keep in mind that he or she is genuinely horrified in your absenteeism. Reprimand of any kind is undeniably the erroneous retort to terror and will truly make the condition worse, instead of improved. Helpful treatment for separation anxiety includes evading the actions that underline “neediness,” training the dog to unwind, and offering constructive support for doing so.

Behavioral adjustment procedures frequently contain recommendations, like:

  • Pretend to go, but then remain or walk out the door. Instantly return. Providing the dog stays composed, slowly upsurge the quantity of time you are gone.
  • When you do return, pay no attention to your dog until he or she is composed.
  • Do not permit your dog to snooze in your bed.
  • Ask someone else to perform tasks with your dog that he or she revels in.
  • Get your dog to anticipate the time alone by meting out distinct playthings once you depart and stashing them away when you return.
  • If you frequently have a TV or radio set on while you are at home, leave it when you go away.

Prescription and nonprescription anxiety relievers can likewise be beneficial, but must be regarded as a method of augmenting the helpfulness of instead of substituting behavioral adjustment methods. Dr. Whitworth can typically make suggestions for controlling slight or temperate cases of separation anxiety, but if the state is totally unmanageable, a recommendation to a veterinary behaviorist might be the best choice for all involved.

Right Pawed in a Left Pawed World

Pet Paw Preference

animal behavior | Whitworth Animal Clinic | Madison, ALOne of the first things we learn as kids is whether we are left handed, right handed, or ambidextrous. Which hand is the most comfortable to manipulate and write with becomes almost immediately obvious, even before we have a pencil in our chubby little hands. Animal behavior studies show that, just like their human companions, our pets have a preference to which paw they prefer to use. Some people even speculate that, just like there are special traits associated with left handed people, your left pawed pet may have certain characteristics.

The two hemispheres of the mammal brain control movement on the opposite respective sides of the body, the right side of our brains governing movement on the left and vice versa. There is no hard evidence that paw preference influences pet behavior. However, since many creative processes take place on the right side of the brain and many logical processes occur on the left side, some people speculate that being left handed (or pawed, or hooved) may contribute to a more artistic nature, and other unique traits.

While more than 90% of people are right handed, studies performed in Turkey in 1991 showed that 50% of cats are right pawed, while 40% prefer their left and 10% appear to be ambidextrous, while a later University of Manchester study showed that dogs are split about half and half. Many scientists believe that, while hand or paw preference is most likely genetic, highly social species like humans that depend on cooperation for survival eventually develop a culture that values using one side over the other, which in turn shapes our genetics, resulting in the high population of right handed humans. While human lefties have to struggle with using right-handed scissors, your left handed pet seldom encounters the stresses of a right handed world.

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, a veterinarian working in Tustin, CA, has developed some tests to determine which side your pet prefers; here are a few easy steps to help satisfy your curiosity:

  • Put something sticky on your pet’s nose. Which paw does your cat or dog use first to try to get rid of it?
  • Put a bit of heese or some other tasty treat under a sofa or out of reach. Which paw does your pet use first to get at it?
  • When you teach your dog to shake, which paw does he or she use most often?
  • When you dangle a toy for your cat, which paw does he or she use to bat the toy?

Although Dr. Schwartz’s steps are easy enough to follow, she recommends performing them at least 100 times for an accurate result. Perhaps that is a bit far to go, at least until you teach your tabby how to hold a pencil.

Pet Care When You Can’t Be There

Pet Boarding

pet boarding | Whitworth Animal Clinic | Madison, AL

The boarding services’ personnel at Whitworth Animal Clinic not only keep my pets healthy and happy, but also give me peace of mind when I am out of town.

I love the holidays but traveling can be stressful and exhausting. Unfortunately, adding to the stress is finding a veterinarian that offers boarding services and quality care for my dogs that cannot travel with me because of family members with severe allergies. Thankfully, my stress has been alleviated by discovering the pet boarding services at Whitworth Animal Clinic in Madison, Alabama.

Dr. Whitworth and his staff at Whitworth Animal Clinic are highly skilled and trained to offer the best care and attention for my four-legged family members. The pets housed in the boarding area each have their own kennel that is appropriately sized according to the size of my pet. But they aren’t cooped up all day long. The dogs are taken outside regularly and given time to exercise and play out-of-doors several times a day.

As a precautionary measure, Whitworth Animal Clinic requires that all pets boarded in their facilities have up-to-date vaccines for the animals’ health and safety. Whitworth provides my dogs with their blankets and towels. The staff will also feed my dogs food they keep on hand but I prefer to bring in their own food. The staff is more than happy to accommodate specific feeding routines and restrictions as long as I provide instructions.

The clinic does, however, ask that I do not bring in personal toys and chewing bones for my dogs because the staff cannot guarantee that a toy will not become damaged or lost. I think my beloved pets will be happy enough without their toys for a few days anyway.

Whitworth offers day care for pets as well, so if I want to take the day to shop for the holidays, I can leave my dogs in their loving hands and focus on checking off items on my holiday preparations list. As long as I pick up my pets during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) during the week, there is nothing to worry about.

I know this holiday I will turn to the pet boarding services at Whitworth Animal Clinic for their professional care and doting attention for my pets while I visit family, friends, and loved ones over my holiday vacation. As much fun as I have, I can’t wait to pick up my special guys from Whitworth and see how much fun they had on their vacation away from me! I can also look to Whitworth to check off my holiday boarding task. Learn more here.

One Outdoor Activity You Don’t Want to Share!

Pets and Lyme Disease

lyme disease in your pets | Whitworth Animal Clinic | Madison, ALSummer is here, which means you and your pets will be enjoying lots of outdoor activities! Unfortunately, with higher outdoor activity comes the potential for exposure to outdoor diseases. Did you know that Lyme Disease is the most common tick-born disease found in North America? This pervasive disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted via the tick’s bite directly into your pet’s bloodstream. The most common symptoms include sudden fatigue, a lack of appetite and inflammation of the joints, leading to lameness. Left untreated, your pet may also develop kidney damage or heart and nervous system disease, such as depression. Once your pet has the disease, the expensive treatments can last up to four weeks, and often the symptoms will be recurring despite treatment, especially long-term joint pain. Therefore, if your pet contracts this disease, you will need to remain vigilant even after treatment and watch for signs of a relapse.

Luckily, Lyme Disease is entirely preventable! Whitworth Animal Clinic wants to help ensure that your beloved pet has a safe and happy summer, this year and for many years to come. While there are topical treatments, sprays and collars which you could try using to prevent ticks from hitching a ride on your pet, vaccinations are the surest and most effective preventative measure to guarantee that your pet remains free of this disease. This vaccination can be administered once a year by your vet, similar to a rabies vaccination, and will ensure that even if an infected tick should bite your dog or cat, your pet will already be safe from bacterial transmission. Your pet can continue to enjoy the great outdoors and you won’t have to worry about the possibility of infection!

The staff of Whitworth Animal Clinic recommends that you vaccinate your dog against Lyme Disease. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options and set up an appointment to vaccinate your furry friend!

Is Your Dog a Nail Biter?

Dog Nail Biting

clipping dog’s nails | Whitworth Animal Clinic | Huntsville, AL

Our technicians are experts at trimming toenails.

Nail biting is not an attractive habit for humans and is not a healthy habit for animals, as well. Whether it’s an occasional chew or your pet is a chronic nail biter, it’s not a normal activity for dogs and can indicate a number of problems.

Allergies are on one of the top reasons dogs gnaw on their toes. Spring and summer can bring on allergic reactions from fleas, pollen, mold and other environmental allergens such as dust mites and food allergies. Nail biting can be one of the signs that your dog has an allergy. If your dog shows signs every year, or year round, they are more likely to have canine atopy.

The main sign of atopy is itchiness which often occurs between the toes. Dr. Charles Whitworth can recommend treatments to keep the allergy under control and from areas such as around toes nails, from becoming infected.

Another reason your dog my turn to nail biting is out of boredom or anxiety. Whatever the reason, excessive nail biting can be harmful as it can cause bleeding, irritation, and infections.

Pet Pedicures

While some might think keeping Fido’s paws quaffed, nail trimming is important for the long-term health of all dogs. Overgrown nails can break easily and below the quick, which can be very painful for the dog. In addition, if nails are left overgrown for a long period of time, they can cause difficulty with walking, pain and soreness that could lead to arthritis.

If you can’t bring yourself to trim your pups nails, you can depend on the expert nail trimmers at Whitworth Animal Clinic to do the job. You and your dog will both be happy! Learn more here.