Preventative care can be overlooked for our pets. However, it is just as vitally important as normal pet care. Heartworm disease, fleas and ticks, and intestinal parasites can be a major issue for you and your pet, but they can all be prevented!

Heartworm Disease

How is Heartworms Spread?

A mosquito picks up baby heartworms from an infected dog.  The microfilariae mature inside the mosquito, then young larvae are spread when the mosquito feeds on a new dog.  Those larvae grow in the dog’s tissues for 6 months, ending up in the heart and pulmonary vessels as adults.  There, the female adults create new microfilariae that circulate in the bloodstream until picked up by a mosquito and the cycle continues.

Preventing Heartworm Disease

Dogs should begin heartworm prevention at 6-8 weeks old.  Heartworms can be transmitted year-round, so never skip a month!  Puppies under the age of 6 months does not need a heartworm test prior to starting prevention, but they will be tested for heartworms at each annual exam to ensure they stay heartworm-free.

While we cannot prevent mosquito bites, the next best thing is to kill the young larvae they transmit. Monthly heartworm preventive chews will “deworm” your dog from any larvae transmitted in the previous 30 days.  Dogs must receive a preventive every 30 days or an injection once a year because once the larvae begin to grow, they become resistant to the preventive.  At that point, the parasite can only be killed by a series of injections that can be both very tough on your pet’s health and very expensive.

Most heartworm preventatives also prevent some intestinal parasites as well. Below is a list of different heartworm preventatives and intestinal parasites they protect against.

Product

Type

Frequency Roundworm Hookworm Whipworm Tapeworm

Simparica Trio

Chewable Monthly + +

Interceptor Plus

Chewable Monthly + + +

+

ProHeart 6

Injection Every 6 months +

ProHeart 12

Injection

Yearly +

Flea and Tick Control

Fleas and ticks are easy to pick up and very difficult to eliminate from your home, so we recommend your pet begin flea and tick control as early as 8 weeks of age. To keep fleas and ticks out of your home, make sure all animals (including indoor cats!) are on monthly control. While fleas spread tapeworms, ticks carry a variety of diseases including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. Flea and tick products will cause biting ticks to die before they are attached long enough to spread disease or eat a full blood meal. Below is a list of flea and tick products that our veterinarians recommend for your pet and how they are administered.

Product Name Type

Frequency

Simparica Trio

Chewable

Monthly

Simparica

Chewable

Monthly

Credelio

Chewable

Monthly

Revolution Plus

Topical

Monthly

Intestinal Parasites

We recommend annually collecting a fecal sample to test for any intestinal parasites in your pets.  There are numerous intestinal parasites but no universal dewormer, so it is the most economical and safest for your pet to test first, then only treat them with what they need. Most intestinal parasites are spread by fecal contamination, so in addition to deworming medication, also be sure to pick up feces out of the yard immediately to prevent re-infection!  Roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic, meaning they can be spread from dogs to humans, so always wash your hands! Below is a list of the most common intestinal parasites and how they spread.

Parasite Name

Description

Roundworms

      **ZOONOTIC**

– Most common parasitic worm of dog and cats

– Can be several inches long

– Spread by eating contaminated soil or from an infected mother to her offspring

– Can also infect humans!

Hookworms

      **ZOONOTIC**

– Small red worms that feed on blood

– Severe infections can be fatal

– Migrating larvae can penetrate skin

  and cause a rash in humans!

Tapeworms

– Worm is made of many segments that

  look like cooked white rice

– Spread by ingesting fleas or rodents

– Humans are rarely infected

Whipworms

– Live in the large intestine and cecum

– Spread by eating contaminated soil

– Can cause diarrhea or stunted growth

Giardia

– One-celled parasitic organism

– Spread by contaminated water or

  direct fecal-oral transmission

– Symptoms vary from no outward

  signs to severe diarrhea

Coccidia

– One-celled protozoal parasite

– Spread by fecal-oral transmission

– Often associated with bird droppings