For a basic understanding of prevention of parasites (i.e., fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a helpful framework for accurately understanding the important, life-saving benefits of year-round parasite prevention. Unfortunately, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes carry life-threatening diseases that don’t disappear because you’d rather not think about them. CPR is the life-saving treatment used if a person’s breathing or heart stops. For this purpose, our Mill Creek Animal Hospital team uses CPR to stand for cost, probability, and remembering, and we use the acronym to clarify misconceptions surrounding year-round preventive medicine for life-threatening parasites in pets.
Cost of dog and cat parasite prevention
- Myth —Year-round parasite prevention is simply a way for veterinarians to make money, and many products are actually harmful.
- Truth — This resource underscores the importance of safe regulation and administration of parasite prevention products. Your veterinarian recommends parasite preventives to protect your pet from the sometimes severe diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the parasites can transmit to your pet. Also, pet owners should realize that treatment for such diseases costs significantly more than prevention.
Take fleas, for example. Did you know that adult fleas represent only 5% of the flea population, and the remaining eggs are on your floor, furniture, and bedding? Every year, many pets visit their veterinarian for flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), an immune response to fleas that causes pets serious itchiness, pain, infection, and hair loss. Fleas may harbor Bartonella bacteria that they can transmit to your pet, causing bartonellosis, with signs that include fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes. Additionally, puppies and kittens infested with fleas can lose so much blood from flea bites that they become weak and anemic, and may die if not treated.
Now take mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes can transmit heartworm larvae when they bite your pet. The microscopic larvae then spend about six months traveling through your pet’s bloodstream, maturing as they go into worms as long as 12 inches that set up residence in your pet’s heart and lungs, and can eventually cause heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is a serious illness that causes severe respiratory problems, and often death, and is extremely difficult and expensive to treat. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) cautions that one out of every 100 dogs tests positive for heartworm disease. No heartworm treatment is available for cats, so year-round prevention is critical for your feline pets.
Yet, fleas, mosquitoes and other parasites are all easily preventable with safe, year-round prevention products.
Probability of pet parasites
- Myth — I can stop my pet’s prevention medication during the winter, because the pests are active only in warm weather.
- Truth — Unless you give your pet preventives year-round, you are putting them at risk. Ask yourself:
- “Is it really possible to prevent a mosquito, flea, or tick that is seeking warmth from the cold from discretely entering my home?”
- “When my dog goes outside, can I prevent them from carrying a flea or tick back into the house?”
- “My doors open and shut all day long—couldn’t a pest easily sneak in?”
- “Am I sure no window screens have small tears or openings that make perfect entry points for pests? After all, the kids love to sleep with their windows open, no matter how cold the night.”
The truth is, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can find their way into your home any time of year. Plus fleas and ticks especially can survive cold temperatures. Fleas can remain active in near-freezing conditions, and they can linger in the hardy pupae stage for months. Ticks can survive under snow and in grasses, so long as the temperatures are above freezing, and it’s not icy or wet.
Remembering to give pets their parasite prevention
- Myth — Forgetting my pet’s prevention medicine once or twice won’t really matter.
- Truth — Missing a dose or doses of your pet’s parasite preventive can have serious repercussions, the same as if you forget your own medication. A missed dose means your pet is unprotected for a period, and a single flea or mosquito can do a lot of damage in a short time. Parasite preventives are available in several forms (i.e., pills, topicals, and injectables), one of which is sure to suit your pet, and you, as well as quarterly and annual options. Also, our Mill Creek Animal Hospital’s online pharmacy takes into account how much convenience matters to pet owners.
Clearly, year-round protection is vital for your pet, considering our version of CPR:
- Cost — What lack of protection costs your pet’s health, financial savings
- Probability — Year-round exposure is highly probable
- Remembering — Forgetting a single dose of preventive puts pets at risk
Contact us at Mill Creek Animal Hospital, so our veterinary team can customize a year-round parasite prevention plan for your pet, and help them stay free from many serious diseases, despite unavoidable exposure.