Flea, Tick & Mosquito Prevention
Spring in New England overflows with new life as flowers poke through the ground and peepers begin to peep. It’s also a season that brings less desired creatures such as mosquitoes and ticks. Here are some veterinary musings to get you and your furry family members safeguarded against the 6- and 8-legged external parasites.
Check your heartworm preventative stock.
Factors such as changing weather patterns have resulted in an increase of heartworm disease in Connecticut. American Heartworm Society has a plethora of excellent information and resources for “all things heartworm”. Here are some “cliff-notes” on heartworm disease:
- Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes.
- Prevention includes a monthly tablet or topical product, or an annual/biannual injection of a yearly.
- Prevention is generally safe, effective, and affordable. Some preventatives treat common gastrointestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms as well. A heartworm test is usually recommended yearly for dogs as preventatives can be dangerous to give if a dog is already suffering from heartworm disease.
- Cats can also get heartworm disease, for which treatment options are very limited.
- Heartworm disease can be fatal. Treatment in dogs is expensive, long lasting, and requires strict cage rest – not a favorable outcome for anyone involved.
Check your flea and tick preventative stock.
- Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis unfortunately abound in Connecticut. (Lyme disease earned its name for a reason!)
- Flea and tick preventatives are in a constant arms race as fleas and ticks evolve; if a product isn’t working well for your dog or cat anymore, reach out to your veterinarian for another recommendation.
- Some dog flea/tick products contain permethrins which are very toxic to cats! Products should have a label stating as much, but when in doubt, ask your veterinarian. Ensure that such products are never applied to cats and if applied to your dog keep him/her away from any cats.
- Pro-tip: counterfeit products are unfortunately common! If you have purchased a product outside of a veterinary hospital, consider calling the manufacturer to ensure the product you have is the “real deal”.
- Tick-borne diseases can cause many different diseases (including some we probably don’t fully understand yet) and can be fatal. Good prevention is paramount.
- Don’t forget to protect cats. Many cats are meticulous groomers and despite not seeing any fleas, can still be suffering from flea allergies or other secondary diseases.
Important Note: some essential oils are toxic to pets! While there are some natural products available that utilize safe essential oils for your animals, be sure to do your research and speak to a veterinarian before applying to your dog or cat. What may be safe for people can be dangerous and toxic for other animals. (Cliff notes: essential oils and cats generally mix like oil and water and can be especially toxic to them.)
Enjoy all of the magical bliss of springtime and, as always, reach out to your veterinarian with specific questions or concerns!
– Dr. Emily Andersen, DVM, CVA, CVFT
Owner, ComfortABLE Critters Veterinary Care PLLC
American Heartworm Society: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources
A Brief History of Lyme Disease in Connecticut: https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Epidemiology-and-Emerging-Infections/A-Brief-History-of-Lyme-Disease-in-Connecticut
Permethrin Poisoning: https://icatcare.org/advice/permethrin-poisoning/
Essential Oils & Cats: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/blog/essential-oils-cats/