When fleas are found on a pet, unfortunately they only represent a small fraction of an infestation. The immature stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) can usually be found inside the home, especially in carpeting, bedding and furniture. When a recommended product is applied, it begins killing the adult fleas on the pet. As the immature stages of fleas begin to mature, they too will be killed as soon as they jump on to the pet. It may take 3-4 monthly treatments to eliminate an infestation, so it is always best to prevent infestations before they occur.
Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Many of these diseases have symptoms that are vague and/or mild until the disease is very progressed. Many flea and tick preventatives starts killing ticks upon contact and will kill all four North American species of ticks (Deer tick, Brown dog tick, American dog tick and the Lone Star tick).
Lyme disease is a multi-system disorder transmitted by ticks. It's the most commonly reported tick-bourne disease in the U.S. human population, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Lyme-positive dogs have been found in all 50 states Portsmouth Veterinary Clinic does carry a Lyme vaccination for dogs and recommends using a flea and tick preventative and the Lyme vaccination if:
We also have in-clinic testing for three tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis). Please let us know during your pet’s annual exam if your dog will spend much time outdoors this spring or summer.
The easiest and most effective way to prevent fleas and ticks is by using a monthly preventative beginning April 1. However, fleas can live in a heated home or lay dormant in your house during the winter waiting for the warmer weather. If a flea infestation has already occurred in your house, preventives would be needed year-round.
To avoid flea infestation, all your dogs must be on flea preventatives and be given the preventative consistently for 6 consecutive months.
Please come in to Portsmouth Veterinary Clinic or shop in our our online pharmacy for your pet’s flea and tick preventative as soon as possible to have a flea and tick free season!
How do dogs AND cats get heartworm disease?
Both dogs and cats get heartworm disease. Mosquitoes transmit the disease by biting an infected animal, then passing the infection on to other animals they bite. Heartworm disease affects cats differently than dogs, but the disease is equally serious. It only takes one mosquito to infect a dog or cat, and because mosquitoes can get indoors, all pets, including indoor cats, should receive heartworm preventative.
HOW HEARTWORM HAPPENS:
The Life Cycle First, adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilaria, into an animal's bloodstream. Then, mosquitoes become infected with microfilaria while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilaria mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilaria cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF HEARTWORM DISEASE?
For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of heartworms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years and after repeated mosquito bites. Recently infected dogs may exhibit no signs of the disease, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss. Cats may exhibit clinical signs that are very non-specific, mimicking many other feline diseases. Chronic clinical signs include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss. Signs associated with the first stage of heartworm disease, when the heartworms enter a blood vessel and are carried to the pulmonary arteries, are often mistaken for feline asthma or allergic bronchitis, when in fact they are actually due to a syndrome newly defined as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).
HOW DO YOU DETECT HEARTWORM DISEASE?
Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is usually detected with blood tests for a heartworm substance called an "antigen" or microfilaria, although neither test is consistently positive until about seven months after infection has occurred. Heartworm infection may also occasionally be detected through ultrasound and/or x-ray images of the heart and lungs, although these tests are usually used in animals already known to be infected.
Heartworm disease is preventable! We recommend that all pet owners take steps now to talk to us about how to best protect their pets from this dangerous disease. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs and cause disease. It is your responsibility to faithfully maintain the prevention program you have selected in consultation with your veterinarian.
When does my pet need blood work?
Yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases. This helps us detect disease early. In many situations early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This is convenient to do at the time of the annual heartworm test, but can be done at any time of year.
How many months should my pet be on Heartworm prevention medication?
We recommended your pet be on heartworm prevention for the entire year. It is administered one time per month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). Some of these parasites can be communicated to people! A simple blood test will get your pet started.
Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?
Dogs could get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat you pet for heartworm disease the better the prognosis. ALL companies will guarantee their product providing you use the heartworm prevention year round and are performing yearly heartworm test. When starting heartworm prevention, or if your pet has not been on heartworm prevention year round, it is important that you perform a heartworm test 6 months after starting the prevention to rule out the pre-patent period. The pre-patent period refers to the time in which a dog has early developmental larvae which cannot be detected on a heartworm test, even though your dog is already harboring heartworm infection. If you do not do this it is possible the manufacturer of the products may not cover your pet’s treatment should they test positive for heartworm disease in the future.
My pet never goes outside so does it really need heartworm prevention?
Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes get into houses.
Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not you dog has heartworm disease.