Why is heartworm prevention so important?
Heartworm disease in dogs, cats and ferrets is very serious business. It is so much easier (and cheaper) to prevent heartworm disease than it is to treat it AND heartworm disease can cause heart failure, chronic asthma and sometimes death. Heartworm is an actual worm that grows in the heart of your pet. It is transmitted by mosquitos. So if your pet is bit by a mosquito it could get heartworm disease. Once your pet is bit by a mosquito that is carrying heartworm disease, it will take 6 months to develop in your pet. This is why it is so important to give heartworm prevention monthly, if you give it to your pet, it kills what is transmitted every single month. If you do not give it, the worm has the opportunity to grow and cause disease.
If your dog gets heartworm disease it can be treated with a chemical called immiticide. This is very expensive and very toxic to your dog. Many tests need to be done prior to treatment to make sure the dog is healthy enough to receive treatment. These tests and treatments typically cost $800-$1200. If you give heartworm prevention (like Tri-heart plus) once monthly, this will only cost you between $1.50 and $7.00 per month (depending on the size of your dog). The savings is HUGE, not to mention that you saving your dog from becoming ill.
Cats and ferrets have NO approved treatment for heartworm disease. If they get it, they have it for life. Many cats can fight the infection on their own and rid of it but they will end up with chronic asthma for the rest of their life. Other cats will die from the disease. Because there is no treatment, it is VERY important to prevent it. There are 2 options for cats, a topical called Revolution or an oral called Heartguard plus. Ferrets can only have the topical Revolution.
Heartworm disease is 100% preventable by using a monthly preventative. Only you can make that choice for your pet, be sure to keep them protected from this potentially fatal disease. Also remember that heartworm doesn’t only affect our pets, it has been reported in humans as well. The more we prevent in our animals the more likely we will never get it.
Is Flea/Tick prevention really safe for my pet?
So the answer is…it depends. There are risks with any chemical that you are putting in or on your pet. If you are feeding your pet optimally (all natural, organic, dye free, preservative free), exercising him regularly and doing everything you can to keep him healthy and free of other disease, then yes your pet should be safe with flea/tick prevention. In New England, ticks carry terrible diseases. Lyme disease is a disease that a dog can get and have for life. It can cause joint, heart, kidney and even brain problems that can be fatal. Other tick borne diseases can cause the body to have immune issues and serious health problems. I believe the risk of the tick borne disease is greater than the risk of using a chemical to prevent the tick infection in a healthy pet. Some of our pets are very sick and by adding additional chemicals to their bodies, it can make them more sick. This is why is very important to consult with a veterinarian before using ANY of these products.
Many clients ask me if there is something organic and natural to prevent fleas and ticks. The answer is yes there are many essential oils and natural flea/tick repellents but there are NO all natural products that kill the tick or flea (if it gets to your pet) that help prevent disease. All of the natural products (including garlic, citronella and other essential oils) will only repel, not kill, and do not repel 100%. Do not rely on these products to protect your pet in New England. Tick borne diseases, like Anaplasmosis are at epidemic levels in New Hampshire! The only sure way to prevent ticks and fleas is to use a chemical based product (like Vectra, Bravecto, Nexguard) on your healthy pet monthly all year around. Yes, all year long. Ticks particularly like the mild winter in New England, in fact, ticks are most active at 50 degrees, which we have had 10 days of in February!
So keep your pet healthy and protected from disease. Do everything that you can to keep your pet free of chemicals by feeding the right foods and treats. Provide a safe environment and exercise him regularly. The small amount of chemical in flea/tick products, I believe, is worth the risk by preventing these sometimes fatal diseases from infecting our pets. If your pet has ever reacted negatively to these products be sure to share this with your veterinarian so together you can make wise choices for the protection of your pet from fleas and ticks.