Preventing Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms

PrairieRidge_iStock_000052716348_LargeAlthough parasites are small, their impact to your pet’s health can be mighty. And, just as we are about to welcome in spring and all of its wonderful blooms and outdoor recreation opportunities, here they come! Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and all of the other parasites that like to spring into full force at the arrival of warmer weather are on their way.

While parasite prevention isn’t the most exciting thing you have going on this season, preventing fleas, ticks, and other parasites is paramount to protecting the health of your pet, and, in some cases, your family.

The Physical Toll of Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes

Aside from the discomfort of itchy bites, parasites can wreak havoc on our pet’s health and create risks for our families. In addition, common external parasites can be difficult to rid our homes and yards of, and open the door for internal parasites, such as intestinal worms.

Fleas

Fleas, although certainly viewed as a springtime bane, can create more serious problems than you might think. Many pets develop an allergic response to flea bites which can develop into hot spots and dermatitis. Fleas are also the carriers of tapeworms, which can lead to vomiting and weight loss, and are zoonotic – meaning they can be transmitted to your family members. Another zoonotic disease that is linked to fleas is cat scratch disease or CSD, which is relatively innocuous in cats, but can cause fever, headaches, and fatigue in humans.

Ticks

Tick-borne Lyme disease is relatively well-known and a concern for most dog owners. But, Lyme disease is not the only serious problem associated with ticks. In fact, Veterinary Week reported a 30% increase in the rate of canines exposure to illnesses transmitted by ticks. These include ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and bartonellosis.

Mosquitos

Heartworm disease is transmitted from mosquito bites and is one of the more serious vector-borne diseases. While heartworm tends to have a greater rate among canines, the infection is now being found in cats and on the rise among shelter cats in particular, and is why we recommend year-round prevention for both dogs and cats.

The most effective way to stop parasites from transmitting these diseases and other illnesses to your pet is through year-round preventives and vaccinations.

At-Home Parasite Prevention

Along with the preventives we recommend for your pet during your pet during his or her wellness exam, there are some ways you can help reduce your pet’s exposure to pests.

  • Vacuum fabrics, pet beds, and floors frequently to prevent any larvae or fleas from sticking around.
  • Keep weeds and overgrown grasses from harboring parasites and other critters by keeping your yard well-maintained.
  • Clean up your pet’s waste every day.
  • Keep standing water off of the property to avoid attracting mosquitoes.

While it is impossible to safeguard your pet from every itch or bite, it is entirely possible to protect him or her from parasites and their host of diseases. If you need to schedule your pet’s wellness exam or for more information on parasite preventives, please call our office.

By taking a few precautions, you can take the bite out of spring and enjoy the season with your best friend.