Dog with fleas scratching his ear.

Parasite control is a must for all of our furry friends. Unfortunately, some pet owners make the mistake of skipping heartworm medication during winter months or assuming indoor cats don’t need parasite control at all.

To get back to basics about why flea, tick, and heartworm prevention is so important, Bowman Veterinary Hospital takes a look at some of the risks these pests pose to our pets and how you can prevent them from harming your pet.

Fleas, Fleas Everywhere

Fleas are endemic to North America and can be found in nearly every habitat and climate. Female fleas can lay up to 40 eggs in a single day. So if you see even one flea in your home or on your pet, chances are you have an infestation in the making. Fleas thrive in the warm, dry environment inside our homes and are expensive, time consuming, and frustrating to eradicate.

Some pets are so allergic to the saliva of fleas that their bodies mount a massive allergic response. Known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), your pet may suffer from hot spots, hair loss, and resulting chronic skin and ear infections. These pets are miserable with even one flea bite. Aside from the discomfort flea bites cause your pet, they can also spread diseases such as tapeworms and Bartonella.

The Tick Problem

These tiny, eight-legged parasites feed on the blood of mammals and are known for spreading diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. Tick-borne illnesses can be debilitating and cost thousands to treat over time.

Due to a warming climate, tick territory is ever expanding; ticks can be found easily in backyards, wooded areas, and even garages and sheds across the country. They are sometimes difficult to spot and, once attached, can spread disease within 24-48 hours of a bite. It’s important to remove them promptly and drown them in rubbing alcohol. The tick can be saved for further testing in case your pet gets sick.

Heartworm Danger

This potentially fatal disease affects both dogs and cats and may be one of the most serious diseases your pet ever faces. Treatment for dogs is difficult and costly, and almost always fatal in cats. Caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, foot-long heartworms develop in your pet’s pulmonary arteries and heart cavity and cause irreparable organ damage and respiratory problems.

Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention

All these risks add up to one thing: maintaining flea, tick, and heartworm prevention for your pets is critical to ensuring their health. We see parasites surviving through the winter, and in our mild climate, year round parasite control is crucial. Luckily, it’s easy, safe, and relatively affordable (compared to the cost of treatment) to prevent these parasites from attacking your pets.

Talk to us at your pet’s preventive care exam about which parasite preventive is right for your individual dog and cat. Together we can protect them from diseases, infestations, and allergies with this simple step. It’s also important to inspect your pet every day for ticks and other signs of parasites.

If your pet’s preventives have lapsed this spring, don’t despair. Give us a call to get them back on the right track.