Protecting Your Pet from Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms

beagle dog scratching itself behind ear.

When it comes to parasite prevention in pets, a strong offensive is truly the best method for safeguarding a pet’s health. As fleas, ticks, and heartworm-carrying mosquitoes launch their attacks this summer, it’s vital to be prepared. 

Let’s Talk About Fleas

We’re not going to beat around the bush. Fleas are terrible and they make pets miserable. While they pick up speed during the summertime, fleas remain a year-round threat in Florida. Responsible for causing itchy skin in pets, they can also trigger an allergic reaction from many animals. Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when a pet is highly sensitive to a protein found in flea saliva. The initial itching can accelerate into a full-blown allergic reaction and secondary skin infection, leading to pain and misery. 

As if that’s enough, fleas can transmit bubonic plague, blood infections, tapeworms, and cat scratch disease. Pets can also develop anemia if fleas go undetected and untreated. 

Ticks Are Real Bad Guys

Perched on blades of grass, sticks, and leaves, ticks lie in wait for their prey to walk past them. They make their way through the fur coat to the skin where they attach themselves with a cement-like substance. Their feeding tube may have barbs that keep them in place for their long blood meal.

It can take up to 48 hours for a tick to transmit disease to their host via feeding. Lyme disease is definitely the most well-known tick-borne illness, but they can also spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis. If they aren’t removed carefully, their head can remain embedded in the skin, leading to other health complications. 

Avoid Heartworms At All Costs

While we can’t do anything about the outside temperature or humidity, we can definitely influence a pet’s possible exposure to heartworm-carrying mosquitoes. 

Mosquitoes pick up heartworm disease from infected hosts. Microscopic heartworms are ingested during their blood meal. When they travel to another host, the heartworms are deposited straight into the bloodstream. These worms eventually arrive in the heart and lungs where they grow and mature into full reproducing adults. 

Effective treatment is available for dogs in the early stages, but complications may arise in later stages of the disease. There is no treatment for cats, and most cases lead to early mortality. 

Go Offense!

The best way to counter any potential attacks from fleas, ticks, or mosquitos is to establish and maintain a year-round parasite prevention practice. There are topical and oral medications available to pets, and we can help you find the right one for your best buddy. 

Other tactics include:

  • Keeping the yard tidy and clear of any natural debris.
  • Pick up pet waste immediately
  • Store trash and compost securely
  • Remove standing water
  • Keep your pet’s interior environment spotless
  • Use a pet-safe insect repellent and light citronella candles or torches while outside

Above all, if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health and wellness, please call us at (407) 831‑5205. Our staff is always here to help at South Seminole Animal Hospital.