Talking about fleas, ticks and heartworms in your pet is not nearly as fun as reading up on fun recipes to make your cat or dog, but it is oh so important. Unfortunately, any cat or dog is susceptible to these worms and parasites, and it is of the utmost importance to protect your pet from these things so he can live a long, happy and healthy life.
In all three cases, prevention is easier than treatment, so we will discuss below some ways to help prevent your pet from getting these unwanted companions.
What Are Heartworms and How Does My Pet Get Them?
According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms are worms that reside inside a plethora of different animals including dogs, cats, ferrets and wild animals like coyotes. They can live inside the host animal for 2 to 3 years in cats and 5 to 7 years in dogs. Because they dwell inside an animal’s heart and lungs, heartworms can eventually lead to lung disease, heart failure and sometimes death.
Heartworms are generally passed from one animal to another by mosquitos. If a mosquito bites an infected animal, it takes up baby heartworms and transfers them to another animal when it bites an uninfected pet.
Especially during the summer when mosquitos run rampant, it is critical to make sure you are taking the right steps to prevent heartworm in your dog or cat.
Prevention of Heartworms
The American Heartworm Society recommends treating your dog or cat as soon as your vet and the particular medication allows, but not waiting any longer than your pet’s first 8 weeks of life. Your vet will determine the correct dosage for your pet based on his weight. On top of that, it is recommended that your cat or dog be tested for heartworms through blood work at least once a year, while taking preventative medicine all year long.
Prevention is the best possible option, as some symptoms of heartworm may go unnoticed for a while. The safest route is to stop heartworm from happening in the first place before your pet becomes infected. It is extremely important to keep your dog’s medicine routine regimented, as skipping a dose or administering a late dosage to a pet can be dangerous and leave your pet without protection for that time period.
Prevention is key.
Heartworms and Fleas and Ticks . . . Oh My!
Cats and dogs are also susceptible to fleas and ticks, which are tiny parasites that can make your pet sick, and ticks are even known to cause Lyme disease and other serious illnesses. What can be done to stop these pesky parasites from harming your pet?
Talk to your vet about the right medication for your pet that will help protect him from fleas and ticks. There are quite a few safe medications on the market that are easy to give to your pet, as most of the medicine is either taken orally or is spread directly on your pet’s body.
Mow Grass and Comb Your Pet
Apart from the medicine, other steps can be taken as well. One way to help prevent fleas and ticks in your yard is by keeping your grass mowed. Short grass helps eliminate the tick population. Also try combing through your dog’s hair after he is outside and removing any debris, fleas or ticks you find.
Keep Your Home Spick and Span
Ticks and fleas can sometimes make it inside your home and decide to live in the carpet where there is not much foot traffic. Another way to help prevent these parasites from infecting your pet is by vacuuming often, perhaps once a week, to rid your house of any potential, unwanted critters.
Heartworms, fleas and ticks can sound extremely scary, but with the right kinds of prevention, you and your pet are less likely to have to deal with them.
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