Fleas, Ticks & Heartworm
Although we do live in this unbearable heat three months out of the entire year, pesky mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks find ways to get into our air-conditioned homes. Your cat and dog are the perfect free rides into the human world. But what you may not have known is that these creatures harbor life-threatening diseases that are easily prevented. The following will give you a basic overview of the common diseases associated with these pesky critters.
Ehrlichia Canis, Ehrlichiosis, Tick Fever
Ehrlichiosis is a disease spread from the bite of a tick. The brown dog tick is the primary host of this serious disease, which was first seen in military dogs returning to the US from the Vietnam War. The organism that is carried by ticks and causes the Ehrlichiosis infection is called a rickettisa, which is similar to bacteria. This disease should be taken very seriously as untreated cases can result in death.
There are three phases of the Ehrlichiosis infection. The acute phase occurs in the first two to four weeks of infection. Fever, weight loss, nervous system anomalies, respiratory distress, bleeding disorders and other symptoms can be seen during this initial stage. The second phase of the disease is referred to as the subclinical stage. The symptoms that are seen in the acute stage are normally not present in this stage and basically subside. Dogs that are infected may continue to shed the organism, they may totally eliminate the organism during this stage or they may progress to the chronic phase of the disease. Many of the symptoms present in the acute phase may return along with lameness, anemia, swollen limbs and blood clotting problems. Each progression from one phase to the next makes treating Ehrlichiosis more difficult and this is why early detection is very important for treatment to be successful.
The number one key is prevention. Ask about flea and tick preventatives, mow your lawns often, decrease exposure time by keeping your pet indoors, be aware of any and all water sources in the area that may be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
We currently offer a blood test that test for these 3 diseases and is recommended for your pet annually. The cost of the test is less than $60 and results are available within 10 minutes.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease spread by ticks. While it is most prevalent in the Northeastern U.S., it has been found in all but a few states as well as other parts of the world. The name has nothing to do with fruit, but comes from the place where the disease was first reported, Lyme, Connecticut. Lyme disease affects people and dogs. It is rare in other domestic animals. Lyme disease is transmitted to people and dogs by the bite of ticks, most commonly the black-legged deer tick. Wooded, brushy areas outdoors are likely locations for these ticks. The tick lives by attaching to a host and feeding on blood. While attached, it can spread Lyme disease through its saliva. Research has shown that in most cases, the disease is not transmitted until the tick has been attached for 48 to 72 hours. Lyme disease is not spread directly from one person to another or from a dog to a person.
Over the last couple of years, we have seen a significant rise in the number of heartworm cases diagnosed in Arizona. In 2014 alone our hospital has treated 3 dogs, which is more than we have treated in previous years. This is likely due to the increase in mosquitoes. Heartworm Disease is a potentially life-threatening parasitic infection and expensive to treat. Found worldwide, it infects wild and domestic dogs, sea lions, ferrets, and cats.
Heartworm Disease is caused by a worm, Dirofilaria immitis, and spread by mosquitoes. When a mosquito feeds on an infected animal, usually a dog, it ingests microscopic larvae in the blood. These microfilaria mature in the mosquito for about two weeks. When the mosquito bites a susceptible animal the infectious larvae are injected into its tissues. They migrate through the animal’s body, maturing into adult worms over a period of months. The adult worms live in the heart and major blood vessels where they reproduce to create new microfilaria. The time from infection to appearance of microfilaria is about six months.
Dogs are highly susceptible to heartworm infection, while it is much less common in other domestic animals such as cats and ferrets.
There are effective preventative medications available to protect dogs, cats, and ferrets. We carry a prevention called Heartgard and this is given as a treat once monthly. Pets started on preventive medications before six months of age are tested after they have been on the medication for 6-12 months. Pets that begin heartworm prevention after 6 months of age should be heartworm tested before the preventive is given. Annual heartworm testing is recommended.
FRONTLINE Plus has 2 tough killing ingredients. The 1st, fipronil, kills adult fleas and ticks. The 2nd, (S)-methoprene, attacks flea eggs and larvae. It is a topical treatment and work together to kill fleas & ticks all month long. Plus it breaks the flea life cycle by destroying the next generation of flea eggs and larvae. Frontline Plus also give you the power to help prevent flea infestation on your pet. Provides waterproof effectiveness for 30 days.
NexGard soft chew is FDA-approved and proven safe for use in dogs. It contains an ingredient, afoxolaner, that helps treat and control fleas & ticks and keeps killing for a full 30 days.
HEARTGARD Plus helps prevent canine heartworm disease, and treats and controls roundworms and hookworms, too.
When given monthly as directed, HEARTGARD Plus is effective in helping to prevent heartworm disease in dogs. Each bite from an infected mosquito can introduce new heartworm larvae into your dog's bloodstream and reinfect an unprotected dog. Use of HEARTGARD Plus every month as directed kills immature heartworms introduced to the dog in the last 30 days, preventing the development of adult heartwoms.