Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious disease caused by parasites that can result in severe complications, including death, for cats and dogs. Heartworm disease has been found in dogs and cats throughout the nation and is primarily transmitted from domestic and wild canines, domestic cats, non-domesticated cats, ferrets, and California sea lions. Filarial parasite is born and carried in mosquitos, causes this deadly disease. In Oregon, the temperature, climate, and average humidity are conducive to a considerable mosquito population, making threat of exposure a year-round possibility for both indoor and outdoor animals.
While carrying the heartworm larvae inside its body, the mosquito will contact the animal. The heartworm larva then matures inside the animal’s body. The infected larvae are called Microfilaria are transmitted through the skin at the point of the wound caused by the mosquito’s contact. The larva will take at least two weeks to fully mature underneath the skin before entering the rest of the body. Once, the larva mature into adult heartworms, they are capable of causing significant damage to the organs of the animal. Numerous heartworms will work their way through the animal’s tissue, eventually reaching their vital organs. In fifty to seventy days after the mosquito bite, the larva develops further in the heart and lungs. They may live in either the heart of lungs for seventy to one hundred and ten days after the initial infection. In five to six months, the adult heartworms will have found mates and reproduce new female and male heartworms, resulting in the creation of a colony within the animal’s body. An adult heartworm lives up to eight years in a dog; feline heartworms are fewer in number and only live one to three years.
It is crucial to keep pets away from mosquitos and address mosquito bites immediately with veterinary care to prevent the development of this lethal disease. Heartworm disease can develop quit rapidly, a mere two or so month after the initial infection. Once the heartworms reach the animal’s vital organs, the disease becomes very difficult to treat.
Heartworm Disease and Cats
Felines are generally more resistant to infections and, if infected with Heartworms, they will typically involve six or less worms in your cat. These worms can target lungs and the heart, which often result in death. Indoor and outdoor cats are equally vulnerable to infection where there are other infected animals. However, unlike dogs, circulating microfilaria is rarely found in cats, who often acquire unisex heartworms.
Diagnosis is challenging in cats because they have smaller worm counts and acquire unisex worms. While a negative test in a dog may definitely mean the dog does not have heartworms, a similar antigen test in a cat may give a false read and the cat may still have heartworms. Antibody and antigen tests are a must to determine with certainty whether a cat has heartworms. While antigen tests that test positive convey with certainty that the cat has heartworms, a negative result does not necessarily mean the cat does not have the disease. Antibody tests do not point to the presence of the disease, but can definitely determine whether heartworms have been present.
Outward signs of feline heartworm disease may include: difficulty breathing, sporadic vomiting, sudden weight loss, neurological difficulties, coughing, and, most frequently, sudden death.
Given the ambiguity involving testing and the fact there are no certifiable treatments for cats, the disease has the potential to affect cats more severely than dogs. While cats can harbor fewer worms, their smaller size makes them more vulnerable to the effects of the disease. Several worms are considered a significant parasitic infection. Prevention of heartworm disease is achieved by administration of a monthly preventative.
Flea & Tick Control
In the Pacific Northwest, contracting fleas is a common problem for dogs and cats. Adult fleas are prolific and can hatch as many as sixty eggs in one day. Once the eggs are laid, the fleas quickly develop into larva, pupa, and then finally adult fleas. Prior to adulthood, the fleas develop in the pets’ environment. When the fleas finally reach adulthood, they begin to interact with your pets. The process of getting rid of fleas means treating your pet and achieving and maintaining a flea-free environment.
Both fleas and ticks may be transmitted among mammals and from environment to animal. A pet can acquire fleas or ticks from various places – dog parks, walks through the woods, yards, verandas, or in interaction with other animals. If fleas are present on your shoes or clothes, you can even be the source of transmission to your pet. The effects of flea and tick infections can range from minor to serious effects. Ticks can bring Lyme’s disease, a progressively debilitating and lethal illness. Both fleas and ticks can cause loss of hair, anemia, skin rashes and infections, and itching and can carry dangerous parasites like tapeworms.
Caring for Your Pet, Caring for Your Pet’s Environment
In the area of Northwest Oregon, the presence of woods makes year-round flea and tick prevention a must.
If you do not treat your pet’s environment while treating your pet, a new infestation will occur imminently. Knockout is one of the excellent indoor sprays that can treat a flea-infested environment. Since fleas prefer to live in dark, dimly lit areas, the spray should be used under chairs, tables, under boards, and under cabinets. You should vacuum the home and discard the vacuum bag after spraying the home. Fleas can hatch in the bag and reinfest the home. If your pet sleeps on a particular mat or blanket, this should be washed and dried. The outdoor environment must be treated with a flea product, which can be purchased at a hardware store or pet supply store.
Monthly application of topical solutions, such as Vectra or Comfortis are essential to preventing flea infestations. Your pet will be vulnerable to infestation without monthly treatments. Additionally, it is important to understand that flea infestations do not simply impact your pet; they impact your home.
East BendAnimal Hospital is very well versed in the area of Flea, Tick & Heartworm Preventtion. Please contact us today, should you have any questions, in regards to the treatment of these diseases, or if you are unsure whether your pet may have an infestation. We are here to help.