Parasite & Tick Prevention for Dogs & Cats
Despite the brutally cold winters we have in Chicago, fleas, ticks, and heartworms should be treated as a year-round problem. Parasites are resilient, especially fleas and ticks, which can go dormant at the first frost and reemerge at the first thaw. Mosquitoes, which are responsible for spreading heartworm disease, can also continue to thrive as long as the temperature is above freezing. Their hardiness and ability to transmit diseases to pets (and sometimes people) is why we recommend constant, year-round parasite & tick prevention for dogs & cats.
Common Diseases Spread by Parasites
Heartworm disease is a serious condition in which heartworm larvae mature into adults while inside your pet and gradually take over the arteries and blood vessels of the heart and lungs. This disease is spread chiefly by female mosquitoes when they feed on an infected animal and then move on to feed on a healthy animal. Clinical signs of this disease include chronic coughing, labored breathing, weakness, inactivity, and collapse. Without treatment, heartworm can be fatal.
Ticks are the primary vector of Lyme disease, an illness caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. In addition to dogs, Lyme disease can also affect humans, but it can only be passed on to them from a tick bite. Signs your pet may have Lyme disease include fever, lethargy, swollen joints, and lameness. Lyme disease is treatable, but you can also protect your canine by having them receive the Lyme vaccine.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Being a snack for fleas is certainly not comfortable, and many pets can actually have an allergic reaction to flea bites. This is due to a chemical in the flea’s saliva, to which some animals are hypersensitive. This can lead to very severe itching and scratching, a damaged skin barrier, and secondary skin infections. Flea prevention is a must for eradicating infestations, and other treatments are necessary for treating allergies, inflammation, and itching.
Ways to Protect Your Pet
Old Town Animal Care Center offers many different options for pet parasite prevention. This includes ProHeart, an injectable heartworm preventative for dogs that lasts 6 months, and Bravecto for dogs and cats, a 3-month flea and tick preventative. To learn more about what we offer, give us a call or stop in today to start protecting your pet!
Additional proactive steps you can take:
- Make sure your dog or cat is receiving their preventatives year round as directed
- Even if they stay indoors, your pet can be at risk for parasites, which can get tracked into your home or slip in through cracks
- Clear away brush, tall grass, wood piles, or overgrown shrubbery from around your property, as ticks consider these ideal hiding spots
- Keep your home clean and avoid clutter