Heartworm disease is one of the major health problems of dogs in the United States. It is now being found in cats in ever increasing numbers. The disease develops when a pet is bit by a mosquito which is infected with parasites called Dirofilara immitis. Dogs may be infected by a few or up to several hundred heartworms. Cats are similarly infected although usually by only a few worms. Heartworm infection often leads to severe lung disease and heart failure and can damage other organs in the body as well. Fortunately, there are many very effective once-a-month heartworm preventives available today. Administering the preventive every month will effectively eliminate the chance of infection. Check with your veterinarian to see which product is right for your pet.
Flea, Tick & Mosquito Control
Fleas and ticks can make your pet's life miserable. Everyone that owns a dog or cat is familiar with the incessant scratching that accompanies a flea infestation. Anyone that has ever had to remove an engorged tick knows how unpleasant a task this can be. But fleas and ticks do more than just cause discomfort. In addition to the hair loss, scabs and skin irritations that accompany flea and tick infestations, there is the real and frightening risk of disease spread. Fleas can cause anemia and transmit the plague and tapeworms. Ticks carry organisms that cause diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease along with several other potentially fatal illnesses. Animals that are allergic to flea bites can suffer tomernt for weeks from one single bite and tick bites can become infected. The worst part is that for every one of these nasty parasites that you see on your pet, there are hundreds more in the environment. Simply removing the fleas and ticks on your pet does not eliminate them from your home and yard.
Mosquitoes are an additional problem. Although they do not live and reproduce in your home, they rapidly multiply in stagnant water anytime the weather warms up. The tire swing in your backyard or the empty planter on your patio can become a breading ground for thousands of mosquito larvae. Mosquito bites hurt, can cause allergic reactions and may become infected. But, most importantly, they can spread heartworm disease, West Nile disease and other life-threatening infections to pets.
There is no perfect control for these parasites, but educating yourself on all the available products and choosing the appropriate product for your situation can reduce the chance that your pet will be infested. When choosing an insect control product, it is important to examine the length of the flea, tick and mosquito season in your area, the severity of the problem, the type of parasite involved and any chemical sensitivities in your household. To achieve adequate control you may need to treat your home, yard and pet. When purchasing a product for treating your pet look for the active ingredients, the species and age recommendations and the type of parasites it controls (some only treat fleas whereas others also treat ticks and/or mosquitoes). Most products contain adulticides and/or growth regulators. Adulticides are insecticides that kill adult insects and growth regulators are insecticides that prevent eggs from hatching and larvae from molting. Growth regulators are the best weapon in the fight to eliminate fleas from the environment. Please consult your veterinarian for help in choosing the correct product for your pet.
Ectoparasite Control Product Comparison Chart
Websites with Helpful Information
The Dog Breed Info Center website has information on specific breeds as well as general information for all dogs.
The American Kennel Club website has in depth information on specific breeds and registering your purebred.
Pet University is a wonderful site full of information on all types of pets.