When you look at your pet, you may see a beloved furry family member, but fleas, ticks, and heartworm-carrying mosquitoes see their next meal. One bite from any of these parasites can transmit a potentially deadly disease. So, brush up on your knowledge about these bloodsuckers, the diseases they transmit, and the signs to watch for, and check out our list of prevention products that will keep your pet safe.
Facts about pets and parasites
The wealth of information about the big three—fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes—makes learning all about them a challenge. Here is a list of need-to-know parasite facts:
- Ehrlichiosis is the most commonly diagnosed tick-borne disease in Montgomery County, Texas. Almost twice as prevalent as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis is diagnosed in one of every 135 dogs in our area. Ehrlichiosis has two main forms—monocytic and granulocytic—whose signs vary due to the different bacteria causing the disease. Both forms exhibit neurologic abnormalities, fever, lethargy, and lameness; the monocytic form may also include bleeding and bruising disorders, while the granulocytic form may also include vomiting and diarrhea.
- Heartworm disease harms more than your pet’s heart. Although your pet won’t have a positive heartworm result until six months after she is bitten by an infected mosquito, immature heartworms are already wreaking havoc. As the heartworms grow, they migrate throughout your pet’s body, ending up in the pulmonary artery, heart, and other major blood vessels surrounding the lungs and heart. The foot-long worms constrict blood flow, weaken the heart muscle, and obstruct the lungs, and can lead to heart, liver, and kidney failure.
- The flea life cycle makes eradication difficult. When you notice an adult flea in your home, you’re seeing only 5% of the flea population. The other 95% consists of eggs, pupae, and larvae, which require a lengthy eradication plan. Flea pupae are almost impossible to kill, because they can lie dormant in their cocoons for up to a year, and then will emerge after you’ve let your guard down and discontinued treatment. Year-round prevention is important to prevent these pests from establishing themselves in your home, especially since they thrive in our warm climate.
- Heartworm disease is more challenging in cats, but can kill both cats and dogs. Cats are not the ideal host for heartworms, which means that most heartworms in cats don’t reach adulthood, making standard testing difficult. However, immature heartworms can still cause massive damage in cats, who often present with respiratory signs, such as rapid breathing and asthma-like symptoms, but may also be vomiting and losing weight. And, sometimes the first sign of heartworm disease in cats is sudden death. Dogs more commonly display coughing, exercise intolerance, a swollen belly due to heart failure, and labored breathing. Both cats and dogs with heartworm infection may die suddenly. Unfortunately, this life-threatening disease is not simple to treat. Dogs require a series of injections administered deep into the lumbar muscles and strict exercise restriction, while no treatment is available for cats. Year-round heartworm prevention is therefore critical to keep your pet safe from the dangers of one tiny mosquito bite.
- Fleas are one of the main causes of skin allergies in pets. Contrary to popular belief, food is not the main culprit behind pet allergies. Fleas and environmental allergies win by a landslide. Flea allergies, which cause itching and hair loss, are so common that they have their own allergy category: flea allergy dermatitis (FAD).
- Texas is home to the most common ticks—the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, the black-legged tick, and the Lone Star tick. These ticks are vectors for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. Tick-borne diseases in pets have similar clinical signs that manifest as:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Joint pain
Other signs may include bloody noses, bruising, seizures, respiratory distress, vomiting, diarrhea, or eye and nasal discharge.
Parasite-prevention products for pets
We provide a full-service pharmacy and a variety of parasite-prevention products in oral, topical, or injectable forms that will protect your furry friend from heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites year-round. We stock these common preventives:
- Sentinel and Sentinel Spectrum — For dogs only, Sentinel products are monthly oral pills that attack heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms, and render flea eggs incapable of hatching.
- Revolution — A monthly topical medication, Revolution protects your cat from hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, fleas, and ear mites.
- Bravecto — A preventive product in topical or chewable form, Bravecto is given every three months to protect your cat or dog against fleas and ticks.
- Proheart — Proheart is a convenient preventive in injectable form that provides six months of protection against heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.
- Simparica — Simparica is a once-monthly, great-tasting chewable tablet that protects dogs against fleas and ticks.
For your convenience, we also offer an online pharmacy. Consider signing up for monthly shipments to ensure you’ll never run out of your pet’s medications or prescription food again.
Are parasites plaguing your pet? Stop in our office to stock up on heartworm, flea, and tick prevention products.