Fleas, ticks and heartworm are a year-round threat in our region of the country, so your pet requires year-round prevention. Don’t overlook the problems these pests can cause: Fleas often trigger dermatitis, tapeworm and hot spots; one tick bite can transmit numerous dangerous diseases (see below) and mosquitoes carry potentially deadly heartworm. When it comes fleas, ticks and heartworm, prevention is always the best treatment!
As you may already know, heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, and it only takes one bite to infect a pet. Once infected, heartworm can do severe damage to a pet’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Sadly, many animals don’t show symptoms until the disease is advanced. At that time, symptoms may include coughing, fatigue, weight loss and a swollen abdomen. While cats are much less likely to be susceptible to full-on heartworm infection, they can suffer from a heartworm-related respiratory condition that is very difficult to diagnose. While there is heartworm treatment available for canines, it is expensive and can be very hard on your pet. There is currently no treatment for cats.
As always, the best treatment is prevention! Be advised if your pet has not previously been on heartworm preventive, he or she will need a heartworm test before starting on one.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas are an ongoing issue in a warm, humid climate such as ours, and once they are on your pet and in your home, getting rid of them can be a time-consuming and expensive. They also make pets miserable and can cause secondary problems such as anemia, allergies and hot spots.
Ticks and the diseases they carry are on the rise, and it’s equally important that your pet be protected from them as well. Be aware of these tick-borne diseases:
- Ehrlichia – Dogs are likely to develop a host of problems if the contract this disease, including anemia, bleeding episodes, lameness, eye problems and blindness, neurological issues, and swollen limbs.
- Anaplasmosis – these bacteria are spread to people and animals primarily from the blacklegged tick and the Western blacklegged tick. Symptoms an infected pet might have include joint pain and stiffness, high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and neurological problems such as seizures and neck pain.
- Lyme disease – while this is the most common and well-known of tick-borne diseases, it only causes symptoms in about 10% of dogs. The most prevalent symptom tends to be recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints, and a general feeling of malaise. Other symptoms that may appear are fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, stiffness and discomfort, and joint swelling.
At Sycamore Veterinary Services, we can test for ehrlichia, anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, and heartworm in house, with as little as 3 drops of blood. We also carry many different types of flea, tick and heartworm preventive and our veterinarian can help you choose which one is right for your pet.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 706-353-2696.