Why You Need to Stay Current on Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Protection

Katy Nelson, DVM
By Katy Nelson, DVM on Mar. 25, 2020
dog outside

All over the country, temps are on the rise, trees are starting to bud, and flowers are starting to bloom. While we may be practicing social distancing, bugs are still out there causing problems for our pets.

But if you could protect yourself, your family and your pet from fleas, ticks, and heartworms by administering a monthly, quarterly, or even semi-annual dosage of a medication to your pet, why wouldn’t you? 

The Facts About Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms

Tropical species of mosquitos are now being found as far north as Minnesota and as far west as Nevada. Mosquitos can transmit heartworms to your pets.

And it’s not just mosquitos. Lyme disease, a tickborne illness historically associated with the Northeast, has now been diagnosed in all 50 states. Additionally, there has been a 5.6% increase in dogs and 9.9% increase in cats in flea infestations reported by veterinarians in the last 10 years

Heartworm-Causing Mosquitos

So, what does this mean for our pets? Mosquitos are more than just pesky little bugs. In peak season, dogs can be bitten by as many as 500 mosquitos PER DAY. Over 70 species of mosquitos have been shown to be capable of transmitting dangerous heartworms to dogs and cats.

According to the American Heartworm Society, only half the number of dogs that are pets and 5% of cats regularly receive heartworm preventative. 

Ticks That Carry Diseases

Ticks that used to only be found along the Gulf Coast have traveled to the Central United States, and all their diseases have gone along for the ride. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, and Ehrlichiosis are being diagnosed all over the United States, both in animals and in people.

Fleas That Lead to Tapeworms and Cat Scratch Disease

Bartonellosis, or cat scratch disease, is on the rise as well. The causative agent, Bartonella henselae, is transmitted between cats by fleas and is likely to be terribly underdiagnosed due to emerging symptoms that were unknown until recently, as they are not listed among the ‘classic’ symptoms of the disease. Fleas also carry tapeworms, which can cause severe gastrointestinal, as well as system-wide, problems in household pets.

All Pets (Even Indoor) Need Year-Round Protection

As cities expand and urban sprawl continues, residential buildings, shopping centers, and parking lots create “heat islands” that are capable of moderating temperatures throughout seasonal changes. This establishes microcosms that allow these parasites to survive.

A mosquito larva can survive in any small puddle, even in a flowerpot! Mosquitos, fleas, and ticks can travel through doors and windows, and they can even hitch a ride on clothing to come into your home and infect your pet.

This is why parasite prevention is ESSENTIAL for dogs and cats. No matter where you live and no matter your lifestyle, dogs and cats should be on heartworm, flea, and tick prevention year-round. Even if you have an inside-only cat or mini dog, they still need protection!

It’s much better for your pets’ health to be safe rather than sorry.

How to Protect Your Pet From Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms

Many preventatives on the market can treat a wide spectrum of parasites with a single treatment. Others focus on particular groups of parasites, which means they are usually prescribed together. 

For example, Trifexis® is used to prevent not only heartworms, but also intestinal parasites and fleas. Credelio® is used to prevent fleas and ticks, while Interceptor Plus is prescribed to prevent heartworms and intestinal parasites.

Here are some effective preventatives: 

Ask your veterinarian today which product is the best fit for YOUR pet.

Featured Image: iStock.com/dardespot

Katy Nelson, DVM


Katy Nelson, DVM


Dr. Katy Nelson is the Senior Veterinary Relations Manager for Chewy Health, as well as an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal...

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