Fight Back Against Fleas and Ticks This Season

Fleas live outdoors and hitchhike their way inside on pets or people. Fleas live in moist, shady areas, including lawn thatch, mulch, leaf litter, woodpiles, crawl spaces and beneath porches or decks. Squirrels are one of the biggest flea carriers, along with other wildlife (rabbits, groundhogs, opossums, etc.).

When fleas are found on a pet, unfortunately they only represent a small fraction of an Infestation. The immature stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) can usually be found inside the home, especially in carpeting, bedding and furniture. When a recommended product is applied, it begins killing the adult fleas on the pet. As the immature stages of fleas begin to mature, they too will be killed as soon as they jump on to the pet. It may take 3-4 monthly treatments to eliminate an infestation, so it is always best to prevent infestations before they occur.

Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Many of these diseases have symptoms that are vague and/or mild until the disease is very progressed. Many flea and tick preventatives starts killing ticks upon contact and will kill all four North American species of ticks (Deer tick, Brown dog tick, American dog tick and the Lone Star tick)

Lyme disease is a multi-system disorder transmitted by ticks. It’s the most commonly reported tick-bourne disease in the U.S. human population, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Lyme-positive dogs have been found in all 50 states. We carry Lyme vaccinations for dogs and recommend using a flea and tick preventative and the Lyme vaccination if:

• Your dog spends time in wooded or grassy areas
• Your dog is outdoors during peak tick season
• Your dog lives or visits Lyme-endemic areas of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic or upper Midwest.
• We also test for three tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis)

The easiest and most effective way to prevent fleas and ticks is by using a monthly preventative that the We recommend from April 1st through the month of November. Because our winter weather is so cold ordinarily infestation is not a problem during the winter months. However, fleas can live in a heated home or lay dormant in your house during the winter waiting for the warmer weather. If a flea infestation has already occurred in your house, preventives would be needed year-round.

To avoid flea infestation have your entire household of dogs and begin the season free of fleas and be on one of the following monthly preventatives purchased at the We no later than May 1st, 2011 and be given the preventative consistently for 6 consecutive months.

• Frontline Plus: is a monthly topical for dogs and cats kills and repels fleas and ticks.
• Bravecto: The only oral chew that controls fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. Begins to kill fleas within 2 hours and ticks within 1 day. Convenient 3 month prevention in 1 dose.
• Nexgard: is an FDA approved flea and tick preventative that is a beef-flavored chew given orally. Monthly administration is recommended year-round. Nexgard kills adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae and ticks. It is recommended to give Nexgard after a meal.
• Revolution: By following these recommendations should a flea infestation occur on your pet during the 6 months while on one of the preventative purchased at the We, we will provide flea control products at no charge to eliminate the flea problem. Stop in the We for your pet’s flea and tick preventive and have a flea free season.

How Heartworm Happens:
The Life Cycle First, adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilaria, into an animal’s bloodstream. Then, mosquitoes become infected with microfilaria while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilaria mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilaria cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.

For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of heartworms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years and after repeated mosquito bites. Recently infected dogs may exhibit no signs of the disease, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss. Cats may exhibit clinical signs that are very non-specific, mimicking many other feline diseases. Chronic clinical signs include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss. Signs associated with the first stage of heartworm disease, when the heartworms enter a blood vessel and are carried to the pulmonary arteries, are often mistaken for feline asthma or allergic bronchitis, when in fact they are actually due to a syndrome newly defined as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease.

Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is usually detected with blood tests for a heartworm substance called an “antigen” or microfilaria, although neither test is consistently positive until about seven months after infection has occurred. Heartworm infection may also occasionally be detected through ultrasound and/or x-ray images of the heart and lungs, although these tests are usually used in animals already known to be infected.

Because heartworm disease is preventable, the AHS recommends that pet owners take steps now to talk to their veterinarian about how to best protect their pets from this dangerous disease. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs and cause disease. It is your responsibility to faithfully maintain the prevention program you have selected in consultation with your veterinarian.

Usually, all but the most advanced cases of heartworm disease can be successfully treated in dogs. Currently, there are no products in the United States approved for the treatment of heartworm infection in cats. Cats have proven to be more resistant hosts to heartworm than dogs, and often appear to be able to rid themselves of infection spontaneously. Unfortunately, many cats tend to react severely to the dead worms as they are being cleared by the body, and this can result in a shock reaction, a life-threatening situation. Veterinarians will often attempt to treat an infected cat with supportive therapy measures to minimize this reaction; however it is always best to prevent the disease. Adult heartworms in dogs are killed using a drug called an adulticide that is injected into the muscle through a series of treatments.

Treatment may be administered on an outpatient basis, but hospitalization is usually recommended. When the dog is sent home, exercise should be limited to leash walking for the duration of the recovery period, which can last from one to two months. This decreases the risk of partial or complete blockage of blood flow through the lungs by dead worms. Re-infection during treatment is prevented by administration of a heartworm preventive. These preventives may also eliminate microfilaria if they are present. Dogs in heart failure and those with caval syndrome require special attention. This is intended as a short summary.

When does my pet need blood work?
Yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases. This helps veterinarians detect disease early. In many situations early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This is convenient to do at the time of the annual heartworm test, but can be done at any time of year.

How many months should my pet be on Heartworm prevention medication?
It is recommended your pet be on heartworm prevention for the entire year. It is administered one time per month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). Some of these parasites can be communicated to people! A simple blood test will get your pet started.

Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?
Dogs could get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat you pet for heartworm disease the better the prognosis. ALL companies will guarantee their product providing you use the heartworm prevention year round and are performing yearly heartworm test. When starting heartworm prevention, or if your pet has not been on heartworm prevention year round, it is important that you perform a heartworm test 6 months after starting the prevention to rule out the pre-patent period. The pre-patent period refers to the time in which a dog has early developmental larvae which cannot be detected on a heartworm test, even though your dog is already harboring heartworm infection. If you do not do this it is possible the manufacturer of the products may not cover your pet’s treatment should they test positive for heartworm disease in the future.

My pet never goes outside so does it really need heartworm prevention?
Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes get into houses.

Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not you dog has heartworm disease.

How can I prevent fleas?
It is important to prevent fleas. Not only are they uncomfortable for your pet, fleas are also carriers of disease. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas. Many medications are in a combined form with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent in summer months, they can survive year round in a home.