Parasite Prevention for Pets: Heartworms, Fleas, and Ticks
With the arrival of spring, the threat of heartworm-carrying mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks is on the rise. These parasites are not only uncomfortable for your pet, but can cause very serious health problems that, if left untreated, can ultimately result in the death of your pet.
The good news is that most common parasites, including heartworms, fleas, and ticks, can be prevented with an affordable, year-round preventive medication.
Of all the parasites found in dogs and cats, heartworms are the most deadly. These worms are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, and grow inside the heart and into the large blood vessels of the lungs.
Sadly, heartworms are always fatal to cats, and are risky and very expensive to treat in dogs. While there isn’t much you can do to effectively limit your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes, you can give your dog or cat a monthly medication to prevent the eggs from developing inside your pet.
If you have ever battled a flea infestation on your pet or in your home, you know how frustrating the flea life cycle can be and how costly the problem is to resolve. Often, those battling a flea problem will think it is resolved, only to have the next round of eggs hatch and the problem start again.
Not only do fleas cause allergic dermatitis, an itchy problem for humans and pets alike, but they are also a serious health risk as they can lead to flea-related anemia and tapeworms (which can be transmitted to humans) if the flea is carrying that parasite as well.
You might think that ticks are only a problem in the warm weather months, or that they only happen to dogs that go for hikes in the wood, but the truth is that ticks are a year-round problem, often carried into the yard by wildlife.
Because the adult tick is quite small, you usually will not notice them until they are swollen with blood. Ticks can be carefully removed with tweezers (be sure to get the head). Applying rubbing alcohol to the bite site helps prevent infection, but it does not stop Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or the kidney-related problems ticks can cause. The best line of defense is on-going monthly prevention for your pet.
Why Year-Round Prevention for Heartworms, Fleas, and Ticks Matters
In Texas, these mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are always a threat. Even in the colder winter months, it only takes a few warm days to wake these pests from dormancy and bring the imminent threat back to life.
It’s also important to remember that many of the life-threatening diseases that parasites can pass on to your pet often have incubation periods prior to full-scale infection. If your pet’s preventative lapses, your pet may still be at risk for developing these diseases, even if he or she was bit or infected prior to going off the preventative.
Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that many stop-and-start pet owners often stop treatment too soon, and start it again too late for the preventatives to be truly effective. In order for your pet to have the protection he or she needs, when it’s needed the most, the preventative should be used year-round so that the habit doesn’t slip.
If your pet is not currently on a parasite preventative, or if there has been a lapse since the last dose, please call us for an appointment right away. Don’t let your pet fall prey to parasites and the disease they can cause.
At Schertz Animal Hospital, we do not use or promote topical preventives except for our feline friends, in which case we prescribe Revolution, which helps with internal parasites, external parasites and is a heartworm prevention.
For your canine companion, we typically prescribe Trifexis, which kills the adult fleas along with most intestinal parasites and is a heartworm prevention. We also use Sentinel, which keeps flea eggs from hatching helping to control the environment as well as intestinal parasites and heartworm preventative. For tick control with dogs, we prescribe a topical called Activyl plus.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!