Winter weather is certainly upon us. As a result of this, I have encountered many people that are trying to save money this season by using lower quality preventatives or no preventatives at all on their pets because they believe that fleas, ticks, and mosquitos can not survive the winter. These people couldn’t be more wrong and they are putting their pets at risk! Eek! Prescription flea, tick, and heart worm preventatives should be used all year long, especially in the winter!
What diseases can my pets get from fleas?
Fleas are gross! But they can also transmit diseases like an intestinal parasite called Tapeworms. Tapeworms can prevent your pet from absorbing key nutrients in their food and actually rob them of the nutrition they are eating. If your pet has fleas, they should have a fecal analysis performed once the flea infestation has been cleared to test for tapeworms and other intestinal parasites.
Not nearly as common, but still possible, fleas can also transmit the bubonic plague which can make pets and people extremely sick. Do you remember learning about the Bubonic Plague or Black Death from the middle ages in the early 1300s in your history classes? That was all due to fleas! Let’s try to not revert back to ancient times and protect every pet from this creepy crawly parasite!
What diseases can my pets get from ticks?
Your pets can develop several diseases from ticks depending on the region you live in. In the Northeast, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia are the most common tick diseases that can be transmitted.
Lyme disease is named after Lyme Connecticut where it was first discovered. It can cause a fever, lameness, swollen and achy joints, stomach upset, and kidney disease in severe cases. In addition to monthly preventatives to prevent against this disease, there is also a vaccination available. In endemic areas, like Connecticut and other areas in the Northeast, it is recommended for all dogs to receive this vaccination yearly.
Anaplasmosis is commonly transmitted by the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease and can cause very similar clinical signs like fever, lameness, and stomach upset. There are no vaccines to prevent against this tick borne disease. Monthly preventatives are the only prevention.
Ehrlichiosis is the least common of the tick borne diseases in the Northeast, but still deserves some attention. Ehrlichiosis can cause bleeding disorders, fever, weight loss, respiratory distress, and swollen lymph nodes. There are no vaccines to prevent against this tick borne disease. Monthly preventatives are the only prevention.
Visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s website for more information on all parasites that can affect your furry friends.
What diseases can my pets get from mosquitos?
Mosquitos can transmit Heartworm disease to dogs and cats. Heartworms grow to great lengths and live in your pet’s heart making it difficult to circulate blood and oxygen around your pet’s body. Clinical signs can vary greatly depending on the severity of the disease. In early stages or low quanties of worms present in the heart, animals can be completely normal with no clinical signs. In advanced stages or high quantities of worms present in the heart, animals can be coughing, have exercise intolerance, or pale gum color.
Heartworm disease is extremely expensive to treat. Both the disease process and the treatment for infected individuals can be deadly to your pet. Heartworm preventatives guarantee to protect your pet and will pay for treament should your pet ever become diagnosed with heartworm disease. Don’t risk your pet’s health with this potentially deadly disease! Protect your pet with monthly preventatives!
What preventatives do I use on my pets?
I recommend chewable preventative products (unless your pet has food allergies) be used on your pets. They are easy to give and can’t wash off in a bath or in the rain. My pets also love the tasty treat! Chewable preventatives like Simparica and Interceptor pair nicely together to give broad spectrum protection for your pet. They should be given once a month, on the same day every month.
Simparica is a flea and tick chewable preventative that has a Lyme Disease guarantee! How awesome is that?! If your pet is on Simparica as a preventative and is diagnosed with Lyme disease, the manufacturer of Simparica will actually pay for your pet’s treatment of this disease. Simparica also provides some leeway with the monthly dosing schedule in that it lasts for 35 days! So, if you miss your regularly scheduled dose one month, this preventative will give you five extra days of protection!
Heartworm preventatives, like Interceptor, double as a deworming preventative in case your dog comes in contact with intestinal parasites during their adventures.
Don’t forget about your indoor cats! They need protection, too (Yes, even in the winter)! Indoor cats are the most common animals I see for flea infestations at my hospital. That’s because, typically, indoor cats aren’t receiving preventatives at all. In cats, I recommend topical preventatives like Revolution or Seresto collars for reliable protection. Seresto collars are particularly nice as they last for 8 months, but do pose a safety risk if they get caught on objects in your home.
Still have questions about preventatives to use on your pets? Post your questions below!