Keeping Cats & Dogs Healthy with Flea, Tick & Heartworm Prevention
Parasite prevention is one of the most important aspects of your pet’s overall health. Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites can all pose big health risks if not properly prevented or treated. At Companion Animal Hospital of Wicker Park, we recommend consistent flea, tick, and heartworm prevention all year long. Many of the preventatives that protect against these three top parasites also protect against intestinal parasites. With year-round prevention, your pet can enjoy full protection while you enjoy peace of mind.
What Makes Parasites So Dangerous?
Fleas, ticks, and heartworms do more than cause irritation. These critters can take a toll on your pet’s well-being. Here are some of the reasons we recommend year-round protection to keep these pests away from your pet:
Fleas are tiny external parasites that feast on your pet’s blood. They are very good at hiding in your pet’s fur and are difficult to get rid of once your pet has them. Flea bites are not only uncomfortable for your pet, but for sensitive pets, each bite can trigger a severe allergic reaction. In addition, some fleas can transmit Bartonella (or “cat scratch disease”) while others may transmit tapeworm larvae. Both Bartonella and tapeworms can affect your human family, too! Yet, with year-long flea prevention, your pet and your family will be kept safe.
Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent each year. Ticks also feast on your pet’s blood lick fleas do, but instead of quick bites, ticks can latch on for hours until they’re full engorged. Your pet may encounter a tick while they’re out hiking with you or even in your own backyard. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis are the biggest concerns with tick bites. For tick prevention, we recommend year-round preventatives as well as the Lyme vaccine for dogs who are at a higher risk for encountering ticks.
Heartworms are internal parasites that infect your pet through the bite of an infected mosquito. Heartworm larvae enter your pet’s bloodstream through the mosquito’s bite and travel to blood vessels in the heart and lungs where they grow and multiply. Overtime, your pet will develop heartworm disease, yet there likely will be little to no symptoms until the disease is much more advanced. While we can treat heartworm disease in dogs, the procedure is hard on your pet and costly to you. For cats, unfortunately, there is no cure. Heartworm prevention is the best option!
Why Does My Pet Need Year-Round Protection?
Year-round parasite prevention is a safeguard against these surprisingly resilient parasites. Fleas can seek out warm nooks and crannies around your home during the cold of winter, waiting for a lapse in your pet's flea prevention. Meanwhile, ticks can be active in temperatures as cold as just above freezing. While they will be more slow-moving, there’s no weakness in their bite! As for heartworms, their preferred hosts, mosquitos, do die out in the winter. However, their resurgence each spring is becoming harder and harder to predict.
With year-round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, you can be sure that your pet and human family are as safe as possible!