Spring is in the air! This is an exciting time for pets as they enjoy more time outdoors. However, as your pets resume more outdoor activities, it is important to remember to take steps to protect them from heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks.
Warmer days often bring mosquitoes which transmit deadly heartworm disease in both dogs and cats. While treatment for the disease is available for dogs, it can be expensive and physically harmful to a dog. Furthermore, there is not a treatment available for cats, so prevention is critical for this species, especially if your cat spends any time outdoors or on a screened porch. Fortunately, for both cats and dogs, heartworm disease is easily prevented. Dogs should first receive a heartworm check by a veterinarian to ensure they are not already infected, because in some cases, certain preventatives can actually cause an adverse reaction. If the test is negative, they can then start on heartworm preventative. A test is not required in order for cats to be placed on heartworm prevention however. As an added bonus, heartworm medication will also prevent or eliminate a number of intestinal parasites and in some cases, eliminate fleas.
In our part of the United States, fleas, unfortunately, can be active all year. When you see one flea, there are a hundred that you do not see. Furthermore, ticks can and DO survive year round in this area. As pets spend more time outside, they are at increased risk of a flea infestation that can lead to anemia, allergic skin disease, tapeworms, and other more serious diseases. Ticks can also cause their own set of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and local painful reactions to the tick bite itself.
To help avoid an infestation of heartworms, fleas, and ticks, treat all dogs and cats in the household at the same time each month, using a monthly preventive product that can kill fleas at all life stages.
Finally, regularly vacuum places where your pet spends time and wash or clean all bedding regularly. Remember, prevention is the key to ensuring your pet is guarded against heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks throughout their lifetime.