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Cypress St. Animal Hospital
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Heartworm & Flea Prevention

Heartworm Disease
Canine heartworm disease is preventable. Parasitic heartworms grow in dogs’ heart and lung arteries. Mosquitoes spread heartworm disease between dogs (and cats). When biting an infected animal, mosquitoes ingest heartworm larvae. When bitten by the same mosquito, dogs contract heartworm disease. Heartworms can live for up to 7 years in a dog.

Symptoms
In the early stages of infection, there may be no visible symptoms. Throughout the maturation of the heartworm larvae, symptoms may include weight loss, coughing, lower level of physical activity, and heart failure. Avoid worm development in your pet with preventative drugs.

Prevention
It is recommended that all dogs receive a once-monthly preventative treatment, obtained by prescription only. It eliminates any larvae deposited by mosquitoes. Heartworm tests are recommended for dogs over the age of 7 months and should be repeated yearly, and when changing between medications. Regular testing ensures infections will be dealt with quickly and effectively. Your veterinarian can recommend the safest treatment.

Fleas: The Life Cycle
Fleas are small, brown insects. Their mouths are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. There are four stages to the flea’s life cycle:

  1. Eggs: Females are able to lay several hundred eggs in their lifetime. They may lay eggs either directly onto the dog, or in the environment. Eggs hatch in about 12 days.
  2. Larva: Larvae hatch and nestle deep into carpets and cracks. Dried blood and dander serve as meals for larvae. After a week or two, they spin into cocoons, or pupa.
  3. Pupa and adult: The adult flea hatches from the pupa, which are highly resistant to insecticides. The flea will then attach to its host. In warm temperatures, fleas complete their lifecycle in approximately three weeks.

Signs of Fleas
Some dogs may not show signs of irritation. Others are more sensitive, even highly allergic, to fleabites. A small hive may develop. Flea-sensitive dogs will often itch, scratch, and groom excessively, causing the area to become hairless and raw. There is potential for bacterial infection.

Flea excrement (or flea dirt) may also be visible, looking like ground pepper. It changes to a reddish brown colour when wet, because it contains blood. Often dog owners never actually see a flea, yet their pet continues to itch. A fragment of a tapeworm in your dog’s stool indicates the dog has or had fleas. While grooming or in response to a fleabite it is possible for dogs to ingest a tapeworm-infected flea.

Control and Prevention
Flea removal can be tiresome work. Luckily, flea control is becoming increasingly easier! Monthly flea prevention treatments will reduce your dog’s likelihood of catching fleas. Oral and topical methods can help prevent fleas as well as treat existing problems.

A wide range of products is available for flea control and prevention, including sprays, powders, shampoos, and flea collars. If fleas are contracted, it is imperative the dog and their living area are treated. Fleas and their offspring are resistant to different methods of extermination. Chemicals with enduring effects should be repeated to eliminate eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. In severe situations, seek professional assistance. Licensed pest control companies can access a wide range of insecticides and know how to best address your infestation. Additionally, your veterinarian can help you select a flea treatment that best suits your pet and its lifestyle.