Remembering to give your pet’s monthly heartworm, flea, and tick preventives is easy in the early summer. The first mosquito whine in your ear or sight of a tick climbing up your dog’s leg are vivid reminders to check your calendar for the due date of your pet’s parasite medication. But, as summer ramps up, and things get busy, and perhaps also in the fall when the upcoming holidays are foremost in your mind, forgetting to give your pet’s preventive can be easier than remembering.
Mill Creek Animal Hospital wants you to know the importance of a year-round prevention plan against heartworm and tick-borne diseases for your pet, and ensure that your pet never misses a dose.
Why give prevention to pets year-round?
When the bugs retreat and the cold sweeps in, you may be tempted to put your pet’s preventive medication back on the shelf, but that is a dangerous mistake. Here are some of the reasons.
- Heartworm prevention
- Infective mosquitoes and ticks often re-emerge on mild fall and winter days.
- Only one mosquito bite is needed to transmit heartworm disease.
- One missed dose leaves your pet vulnerable to infection.
- Heartworm affects both dogs and cats and can be deadly, yet disease is completely preventable.
- Most heartworm preventives contain a dewormer, and discontinuing medication leaves your pet susceptible to intestinal parasites.
- Flea and tick prevention
- Preventives work against not only external parasite infestation, but also their diseases.
- Ticks feed on multiple hosts throughout their life cycle, increasing disease risk.
- Tick-borne Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis can go undetected for some time and be hard to treat when signs become obvious.
- Tick-borne diseases are increasing in both people and pets in the Midwest, including our area. Flea and tick preventives help not only pets, but also people, because many tick-borne diseases are zoonotic (i.e., can be transmitted from pets to people).
How to stick to your pet protection plan
Now you understand the importance of year-round protection for your pet, how do you ensure you never miss a dose? A system that works for you and your lifestyle is key. Effective reminders—ones you don’t ignore—are also key. Consider your personal preferences and habits when setting up your reminder system using our five tips.
#1: Remember pet reminders
- Stickers — The traditional method of reminder stickers on a wall calendar or paper planner will likely be effective for some people.
- Phone — If you react quickly to a chiming phone, phone calendar reminders are easy to use, and you can set up an entire year of reminders with a few taps.
- Apps — Pet medication apps, which are usually free, use push notifications to keep you on track. Some also include helpful medication safety information.
- Reward programs — Some product manufacturers offer online loyalty rewards programs that feature medication reminders. Contact us to see if your pet’s manufacturer offers such a program.
- Auto ship — Sign up for this auto-ship program, and our online pharmacy will ship you a single dose at the same time each month—a perfect reminder right in your mailbox.
#2: Same day, same time, every time, every pet
Consistency is the key. Preventives do have a small grace period, but a few late days this month become a week late next month. Pick a day, and commit to it. Picking a specific time of day (e.g., as soon as you get home from work, or at dinner time) also helps you to establish a routine by “anchoring” the medication to a routine event. Meal time is an especially good choice for oral preventives, which should be given on a full stomach, to prevent your pet from vomiting.
#3: Every pet, one schedule
Life is simple when you have to remember only one thing. If you have multiple pets on different schedules, you can easily accidentally skip a dose. Save time and stress by putting all your dogs and cats on the same schedule, if possible. Our Mill Creek Animal Hospital team can help you synchronize your medication due dates, so give us a call, and we will help ensure none of your pets miss a dose.
#4: Same person, every pet, every time
Designate one person to be in charge of giving preventives to all your pets. Too many family members helping with the task can mean some pets may get extra doses while others are overlooked.
#5: Reorder reminders
One of the fastest ways to get off-schedule is to run out of your pet’s preventives. Prevent “empty-box syndrome” by:
- Ordering ahead — The day you use the last monthly dose, call us, or visit our convenient and secure online pharmacy.
- Using auto-ship — The auto-ship option our online pharmacy offers will ship you refills automatically, so long as your pet has a current heartworm test on file—convenient, easy, and one less thing to think about.
You will need your pet to be tested annually for heartworm disease. We want to approve your heartworm preventive promptly, but if your pet is overdue for their annual test, or you’ve missed several doses, we’ll want to examine your pet before you resume their medication, to ensure they have not become infected.
At Mill Creek Animal Hospital, we know that the most conscientious pet owners can miss a medication dose occasionally. We also know that a single missed dose can make a difference between health and illness. Call us to schedule an appointment to screen your pet for heartworm and tick-borne diseases, and to discuss your best reminder strategy. Let us help you go from missing doses to never missing a single dose.