Vet Blog

Choosing the Right Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Treatment

April 30, 2019

There are plenty of different parasites that could prove harmful for your pet if she were to contract them.

Three of the most common that you will need to take proactive steps to protect your pets from are fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Each will deprive your pet of nutrients to survive while also causing a range of other unpleasant, debilitating, and potentially deadly effects.

Here is what you need to know about each of these parasites and how to choose the right flea, tick, and heartworm treatment for your pet.

What Are Fleas and How Will They Affect My Pet?

When you think of parasites that affect our pets, fleas are probably the first one that comes to mind. Most animals will develop a flea infestation at some point during their lifetime, but it doesn't have to be inevitable. Fleas are wingless creatures that are so small they are virtually microscopic. Single fleas are very rare, largely due to the immense rate at which they reproduce and their short life cycle. The problem with this is that it means a few fleas can turn into a huge infestation very quickly.

Flea saliva contains a toxin that is irritating to your pet's skin. In fact, many animals are very allergic to flea saliva and will experience a severe reaction known as flea allergy dermatitis. Itching, scratching and bald patches caused by your pet constantly trying to ease the irritation are normal. In some cases, your pet might scratch so much that they break the skin and infection may occur. Fleas can also carry other infectious diseases such as tapeworms.

What Are Ticks and How Will They Affect My Pet?

Ticks are another external parasite; however, they are larger than fleas and their body swells with the blood they drink. They lurk in trees and grasses, ready to drop onto your pet. In addition to consuming her blood, they are also well known for carrying a range of infectious diseases from Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to Ehrlichiosis. These can have serious consequences for your pet. Fortunately, fleas are visible to the naked eye and if you check your pet regularly, you can remove them quickly before they have a chance to spread any disease - a process which can take up to 72 hours from when they first bite her.

What Are Heartworms and How Will They Affect My Pet?

Heartworms are an internal parasite. This means that they set up home inside your pet's body. In the case of heartworms, the parasite can be found inside her heart and lungs and the blood vessels that serve them. Heartworms are spread via mosquitos, which place some of the larvae into your pet's blood. Once the worm larvae have migrated to the heart and lungs and matures, each worm will be around a foot long and capable of reproducing. In severe infestations, a dog could have several hundred worms living inside them. Clogging the heart, lungs, and arteries, these worms cause damage to her organs, eventually blocking the flow of blood entirely, resulting in almost certain death. Heartworms are the most dangerous of all internal parasites and your pet must be protected against them at all costs.

Choosing the Right Parasite Preventative for Fleas, Ticks and Heartworms

The good news is that it is possible to prevent your precious pet from ever suffering from any of these parasites. The great news is that there are lots of different products available that can do this, making it possible for every pet to be properly protected regardless of their age or health. Some of these are combination products that will protect against several different parasites in just one application. However, in some cases, you will need to opt for two or three different preventatives depending on what is most suitable for your pet. This is where consulting your vet in Bastrop, LA is invaluable.

Your veterinarian at Melton Veterinary Hospital knows your pet's medical history and will be able to make a recommendation as to which is the best preventative for fleas, ticks, and heartworms for your pet. Keep in mind that the application of these products can vary, and while some are chewable tablets that you can slip into her food, others may require topical, 'spot-on' administration. Working with your vet, you can determine which is most likely to suit your furbaby.

The Importance of Administering Preventatives on Time

All preventatives are only effective for a set period of time before a further dose is required. In most cases, it's around 30 days, at that point, your chosen product will need to be re-administered monthly if your pet is to remain adequately protected. Being even a single day late could leave your pet vulnerable to a flea, tick, or heartworm problem. As such, it is crucial that you make a note of how long your chosen preventative product is effective and ensure that you follow up the initial application of medication with further doses exactly as directed.

If You Have Any Doubt, Consult Your Vet in Bastrop, LA

All preventatives contain active ingredients that help to keep your pet safe from the parasites that they target. Heartworm preventatives are only available on prescription from a licensed veterinarian. This is because your vet will need to confirm that a given variety of heartworm preventative is suitable for your pet based upon her medical history and current health. If you choose to give your pet a combined type of preventative that protects against heartworms as well as other parasites, you will need to obtain this prescription from your veterinary team.

If you would like more advice and support on choosing the right flea, tick, and heartworm treatment, don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly, dedicated team at Melton Veterinary Hospital by calling (318) 283-0656.

Please Note: We are no longer using Vet's First Choice and encourage clients to now use Vetcove.