Living in the South we are blessed with temperate weather year round. Unfortunately, this weather also allows fleas, ticks and heartworm carrying mosquitos to thrive virtually all year long, and with them, the parasites and diseases they carry.
Heartworm disease is one of the most concerning diseases carried by these parasites. It is carried by mosquitos, which can infect your dog by biting them, drawing blood and depositing the larvae within the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream these larvae migrate to the heart and other blood vessels. Missing one month of heartworm preventative can allow these larvae to grow in to adult worms that can then cause serious health problems for your animals. It is possible, but very costly and risky, to treat your dog for a heartworm infection. At this time, there is no treatment for heartworms in cats. The best course of action is monthly preventatives that help provide protection for your pets. Given the recent weather, and the resulting standing water, mosquitos will be a much bigger problem this year than normal.
Fleas are another continuous problem in this area. They thrive in the warmer weather and can affect not only your pet, but your family as well. They cause skin irritation, and in some animals severe allergic reaction. They can also transmit various diseases and infections such as tapeworm infections. Fleas can survive the colder winter months by living in your house. Once inside your house they can cause an infestation that affects not only your pet, but your family as well.
Ticks are another parasite that thrives in this environment, and are responsible for various tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlicia, to name a few. In addition to monthly preventatives, it is strongly encouraged that you check your pets for ticks. This is particularly important after they have spent a significant period of time doing outdoor activities, such as hiking or playing on the beach.
We have a responsibility as pet owners to protect our pets from these parasites through monthly preventatives. There are many options for monthly preventatives out there to help provide your furry family members with adequate coverage and protection. Talk to your veterinarian about what method will work best for your animals lifestyle. If there has been a lapse in their coverage of heartworm preventative it is recommended to get them tested for heartworm disease prior to reinitiating monthly prevention. The best treatment is prevention, so contact your veterinarian today.