Flea, Heartworm and Lyme prevention is back!
Now that the weather is finally warming up, we need to start thinking about how to best protect our furry family members from those pesky parasites that like to invade our home and bother our pets.
Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals. They feed on blood by biting our pets, causing severe itching and often times extreme allergies. The typical flea season is Spring, Summer and Fall with the most highly concentrated period of fleas in our area being August and September. But unfortunately, with our recent warm winters, we are seeing many active flea infestations right now!
Fleas can be controlled using several methods including; tablets, topical treatments or injections. The majority of treatments are given once a month for both dogs and cats. It is essential to treat ALL animals in the house if you see fleas on even one animal because fleas will jump from one host to another and do not discriminate between cats and dogs.
Heartworms are another serious consideration for this time of year. These parasites are transmitted through mosquito bites. The worms can grow to be 14 inches long and they live within the heart and major arteries of both dogs and cats. Mosquitoes transmit the worm larvae by biting infected animals and then biting unprotected animals. The Maritimes are starting to see heartworm, especially in animals relocating or visiting from the south.
In dogs, Lyme disease is mainly transmitted from the Deer Tick and does not begin to show symptoms for weeks to months after infection, and the main sign that we see is arthritis. There is occasionally a fever also. With dogs, heart and neurological issues are extremely rare. The most serious long term potential in dogs is kidney damage which is seen when the immune system is over stimulated dealing with a long term infection of Lyme disease. We now have ticks in Dartmouth/Cole Harbour/Eastern Passage!
This is a relatively new concern for animals in our area, but is a disease for which positive cases are being found every year in Nova Scotia and we have seen positives in Eastern Passage. If you have concerns about tick control or Lyme disease in your animals please do not hesitate to discuss this matter with your veterinarian.
Parasite prevention medication can come in a combination package that will prevent fleas, heartworms, intestinal worms and ticks also. But, there are many options and you should call your veterinary clinic to discuss how you can best protect your pet!