Tis the Season: Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworm
Even if your pet isn’t one for the great outdoors, the threat of fleas, ticks, and heartworm is still a clear and present danger to your pet’s well-being. Fleas can live just as easily inside, as out. Ticks can come into your home (and on to your pet) by hitching a ride on your pants or shoes. And heartworm-carrying mosquitoes know no bounds when it comes to their invasion.
Because of this, parasite prevention for pets is a must this time of year. Ideally, prevention should be a year-round commitment for it to be as effective as possible (especially in the case of heartworm); but none the less, prevention during the summer months is crucial if your pet is to be protected against the illnesses fleas, ticks and mosquitoes bring.
The Threat of Parasite-Borne Illness
Fleas, ticks, and heartworm are more than just a nuisance. These pests can also cause a number of health crisis’ that can often culminate in a pet emergency.
Aside from being horribly uncomfortable for your pet (and you), fleas can also result in dermatitis (skin allergies), which, if not treated right away, can lead to hot spots and infection. Fleas can also lead to tapeworm, cat scratch fever (yes, it’s real), and carry plague bacteria, as well as cause life-threatening Anemia, if left untreated.
Ticks are most notorious for carrying Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsia), as well as the autoimmune disease Ehrlichiosis. For many pet owners, even the presence of a single tick may lead to an emergency vet visit. If the tick is not removed properly and the head remains burrowed into your pet’s skin after the body has broken off, it may take a veterinarian to remove what is left to ensure your pet’s safety.
Heartworm is a disease that is fatal to cats and both costly and risky to treat in dogs. In fact, you could buy 7 years worth of heartworm preventatives for less than it costs to treat your dog just one time for heartworm.
But cost aside, the real “emergency” with heartworm is often a result of the fact that the disease’s symptoms aren’t easily detectable to the naked eye, and it isn’t until your dog has difficulty breathing or collapses, causing you to rush your pet in for emergency care, that a diagnosis is made.
Because of this, yearly heartworm testing, in tandem with regular preventative care, is a must.
Parasite Prevention At-Home
In addition to keeping your pet current, year-round, on parasite preventatives, we also strongly recommend that you keep your home and property as pest free as possible.
For flea control, this means eliminating any dark, warm, and wet habitats, such as piles of leaves, straw, grass clippings, wood, and compost (or keeping them well away from your pets).
Ticks often prefer leaf litter, brush, and tall grasses – anywhere that they can easily hitch a ride on an unsuspecting passer-by. Keep your tall grasses trimmed, as well as any brush or bushes.
As heartworm is transmitted through infected mosquitoes, be sure to use best practices for mosquito abatement and drain any standing water on your property regularly. Remember, anywhere mosquitoes breed has the potential for heartworm.
If you have any other questions regarding parasite prevention, or if you need to bring your pet current on his or her preventative routine, please feel free to give us a call. Also ask us about NexGard for dogs, a new chewable option for preventing fleas and ticks. We’re happy to answer your questions and schedule an appointment, if needed.