As Spring is approaching quickly, the warm weather brings about plenty of sun, blooming flowers and insects. If you are a new or current pet parent, getting your dog on flea/tick and heartworm treatment should be at the forefront of your mind before the warm weather arrives.
Fleas and ticks can cause dangerous problems for your dogs if they are not treated right away. Heartworm infestations can also be treated and your dog can recover quickly if the signs are caught early. Prevention for all these potential health issues is paramount.
If you are unsure about what these issues are, we have all the information you need on how to prevent fleas, ticks and heartworm in dogs.
What are fleas?
Fleas are a dark copper color and are about the size of the head of a pin. They don’t thrive well in the light so look for them within furry areas of your dog like their belly or inner thighs. These small insects lay their eggs on your pet, and you may notice them around your home too where your dog spends their time relaxing (ex: on your couch, in their bed etc.) Fleas prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent. For some areas of the country, fleas on dogs are more than just a summer problem. In many areas of the southern United States, fleas can survive and bother your pet year-round.
If you notice your pup is very itchy, has irritated skin, and might be losing more hair than usual (from all the itching and biting), this can be a telltale sign of fleas on your dog. These pests are visible to the naked eye, so you will be able to see them moving around.
How to prevent fleas in Dogs
There are a couple of ways to prevent fleas in dogs. You should always speak to your veterinarian about the most appropriate option for your dog. Since the likelihood of your dog contracting fleas is from being outdoors, you should limit the time they spend in tall grassy areas where fleas thrive the most. In addition to that, your dog should not come into contact with stray animals, you should bathe your pup regularly as well as check their coats on a regular basis.
If you do spot these pesky insects on your dog, treatment options can include prescription flea medications which can help prevent these bugs from latching onto your dog in the future.
It is important to do your research since some treatments may only target flea eggs, while others will target adult fleas.
What are ticks?
Ticks are small arachnids that belong to the spider family. They require blood in order to complete their complex life cycles. Ticks can transmit diseases to both humans and animals. These little bugs attach to your dog by inserting their mouthparts into your dog’s skin. Many ticks also produce a sticky, glue-like substance that helps them to remain attached. After attaching to your dog, ticks begin feeding on your dog’s blood. The places where ticks attach can become red and irritated.
How to Prevent Ticks in Dogs
If you live in an area with ticks, speak with your veterinarian about medication that will prevent ticks from attaching to your pet that will kill any that do attach themselves to your dog. Your veterinarian can also show you the safe way to remove ticks without breaking off the head and leaving some of the tick attached to your pet.
The best way to prevent ticks from attaching to your dog is by the regular use of tick control products. You can also treat your outdoor environment with products to make your yard less tick-friendly.
What is Heartworm?
Heartworm disease is a serious issue that can result in severe lung disease, heart failure and death in dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. In the United States, heartworm disease is most common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey and along the Mississippi River and its major tributaries, but it has been reported in dogs in all 50 states.
Sadly, mosquitos will be flying around us all so long as the warm weather is around. There is no way to tell which ones are infected and which ones are not.
How to Prevent Heartworm in Dogs
You can certainly treat your dog for heartworm disease if they contract it, but the best treatment for heartworm is prevention. Luckily, there are plenty of FDA-approved products to prevent heartworm in dogs. All of these products require a prescription from your veterinarian. Most products are given monthly, either as a topical liquid applied on the skin or as an oral tablet. Both chewable and non-chewable oral tablets are available. If you are unsure, always speak to your vet about which treatment option is best for your pup!
Feel free to check our dog sitting services so we can be there for you, and your pets! Our services include plenty of TLC for your dog, so we will be sure you let you know if we spot anything out of the ordinary.