Heartworms, fleas, and ticks are some of your pet’s most persistent enemies. They will always be a threat unless your companion regularly receives their flea, tick, and heartworm treatment throughout the year. Lake City Animal Hospital offers all of the high-quality parasite preventatives your dog or cat needs, and we recommend year-round protection to minimize health risks.
What is Heartworm Disease, and Why is it Dangerous?
Dogs and cats can both contract heartworm disease if they don’t have adequate protection. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes when they take a blood meal from a host. Some of the larvae in the host’s bloodstream are transmitted to the mosquito, who then passes those larvae on to the next host. Once the heartworm larvae enter your pet’s bloodstream, they slowly travel through it until they reach the heart and lungs. This is where heartworms grow and reproduce.
Over time, the heartworms will start blocking the blood vessels, forcing the heart to work much harder. This puts your pet at risk for heart failure, and it affects their breathing as well. At its most advanced stage, heartworm disease can be fatal. Treatment is available for dogs only, and its success cannot be guaranteed.
The best way to combat heartworm disease is to prevent it entirely with the right medication, which we can recommend to your pet.
Signs of Heartworm Disease in Pets
Dogs and cats can hide their symptoms well, appearing healthy despite the trouble brewing below the surface. Look closely for these signs, which could indicate heartworm disease:
- Less active, not interested in exercise or playtime
- Sleeping more often
- Breathing heavily
- Coughing/wheezing frequently
- Swelling of the abdomen
Why to Prevent Fleas and Ticks on Dogs and Cats
Fleas and ticks are active throughout the year, and can easily enter your home, either by sneaking in through a crack or by hitching a ride on your shoes, pants, or yard sale furniture. Fleas in particular are known for causing frustrating infestations in homes and on pets, and once they’ve arrived, they can be extremely difficult to eliminate. What’s more, their bites can trigger allergic reactions in pets.
Ticks are mostly found lurking outdoors in tall grass, dense brush, and woodpiles. They lie in wait for a passing host, then latch on and take their time looking for a spot to feed. Ticks can transmit diseases to their hosts, including Lyme disease (black-legged tick) and ehrlichiosis (brown dog tick). Advanced Lyme disease can be fatal, so treating it early is key.
Dogs with Lyme disease typically have these symptoms:
- Inflamed joints
- Lack of appetite
- Discomfort (shifting around, acting restless)
How to Safely Remove a Tick
If you find a tick on your pet, reduce the urge to crush it or yank it out with your fingers. Instead, grab rubber gloves (if you have any on hand) and a clean pair of tweezers. Brush your pet’s fur out of the way as best you can and position the tweezers as close to their skin as possible. When ticks feed, they embed their mouth parts under the skin, and these parts can be left behind by accident.
Gently yet firmly, grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as you can and carefully pull back. Once the tick is removed, place it in a plastic baggie and wash your pet’s skin with warm, soapy water and a dab of rubbing alcohol. Wash your hands, too. Call our hospital for additional instructions, and we’ll tell you what to do next.
Parasite Preventatives are the Best Medicine
Lake City Animal Hospital offers all of the best parasite preventatives your pet needs to stay healthy. By keeping these pests at bay, you’re saving your pet from harmful diseases and frustrating conditions that can harm their quality of life (and yours).
Responsible parasite prevention is better for you and your pet, and it’s also cost-effective. If you have questions about what we offer and how it works, be sure to give us a call at (386) 755-0236!