The Importance of Heartworm, Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs and Cats in Stevenson Ranch, CA
Dogs and cats are resilient, but even they can’t outrun the threat of fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites without adequate protection. And when you protect your pets from these pests, you also protect your home and the rest of your family. Eliminating a flea infestation from the home can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. Ticks are capable of spreading diseases both to your pets and to you. At the end of the day, parasite prevention is the smartest way to keep everyone healthy, happy, and comfortable.
If you need help choosing parasite preventatives for your dog or cat, give us a call at (661) 799-0655!
How Heartworm Disease Affects Dogs and Cats
Heartworm disease is spread with the help of mosquitoes. When a mosquito snacks on an animal infected with heartworms, they unknowingly ingest microscopic “baby” worms, known as microfilaria, which they then pass on to the next host. In a typical host, these microfilaria will travel through the bloodstream and develop into larvae within 2 weeks. It takes about 6 months for heartworm larvae to mature into adult heartworms capable of reproducing.
Dogs are a typical host for heartworms, while cats are not. In most cases, heartworms in cats die before they can mature. Still, even a few immature heartworms can do serious damage to your feline’s health. In dogs, heartworm disease can take years to develop, and symptoms are not likely to appear until the infection has reached a more advanced stage.
To minimize the threat of heartworm disease to your dog or cat, they should be taking a heartworm preventative all year round, and should undergo annual blood testing.
Common Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs
The symptoms most often seen in dogs infected with heartworm disease include:
- Persistent cough
- Easily fatigued after moderate exercise
- Reluctant to exercise at all
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
Left untreated, heartworm disease can lead to heart failure in your dog, with heartworms blocking blood flow to and from the heart.
The Problem with Ticks on Dogs and Cats
Ticks come in many varieties, and all of them are unpleasant. Some, like the deer tick, can transmit Lyme disease-causing bacteria to their hosts. Lyme disease is a zoonotic disease, which means that it affects both animals and humans. Perhaps surprisingly, Lyme disease is also one of the highest-reported vector-borne illnesses in the US, according to the CDC.
Ticks are tiny and can easily hide in your pet’s fur and in other hard-to-reach places, such as the inside of the ear and between the paw pads. Along with making ticks harder to find, this also gives them time to feed and transmit disease.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Cats are highly unlikely to become infected with Lyme disease, though the potential does exist. For dogs, however, the risk can be quite high, depending on where they live, their lifestyle, and whether they are adequately protected with the proper tick preventative.
If you observe any of these signs in your dog, you should call your veterinarian immediately:
- Stiff, swollen joints
- Decreased appetite
Protecting Your Cat and Dog from Ticks
There are several ways you can reduce the presence of ticks in your pet’s life (and yours), including:
- Avoiding heavily wooded areas when taking your pet on walks as much as possible
- Checking your pet for ticks after they’ve been outdoors
- Checking your clothes, shoes, and hair for ticks before going inside (you never know!)
- Keeping your yard clear of brush and debris from trimming bushes, trees, etc.
- Giving your pet their monthly flea and tick preventative
Why You Need to be Vigilant with Flea Prevention
Fleas are one of the biggest nuisances for pets and people. Despite their tiny size, they can jump great distances to reach their hosts, and are often found in large numbers. Fleas can easily take up residence in your carpet fibers, furniture upholstery, and even wood flooring.
Combating Fleas in Your Home
One of the things that makes fleas difficult to handle is their pupal stage, when they build a sturdy, sticky cocoon around themselves. This cocoon makes fleas impervious to insecticides, and they can remain in this stage for approximately 140 days, only emerging when the conditions are right.
The secret to getting fleas to hatch from this stage is to expose the pupae to heat and vibrations. Vacuuming is one way to do this, and once the fleas emerge from their cocoons, they’re easier to eliminate. Be sure to call us at (661) 799-0655 about insecticide options that can be used safely in your home, and for any other tips you need. You’re not in this alone!
Problems Fleas can Create for Your Pet
Fleas tend to make pets itchy and irritable. If you see your pet snapping and biting at their hind end and scratching more than usual, they might have fleas. This doesn’t mean your pet (or your home) is unsanitary--fleas are persistent, and hardy! They can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, some pets can develop flea allergy dermatitis, which is caused by chemicals in flea saliva. Along with the itching it causes, the scratching your pet does in response can result in a secondary bacterial infection of the skin.
Keeping Fleas Away from Your Dog or Cat
A high-quality flea preventative, which you can find at our animal hospital, is necessary to protect your pet from an infestation. We carry the best and safest flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products on the market. Our veterinarians would be happy to provide you with more information about these products if you have any questions or concerns. Just give us a call today at (661) 799-0655.