Get your pets ready for spring with flea, tick, and heartworm prevention
Ahhhh, spring. The time of year when all our trees and flowers begin to bloom, the weather starts warming up, and kids and pets can run outside… where they’re more at risk for meeting fleas, ticks, and heartworm. If you live in a climate where it’s warm and tropical, you’ll be dealing with these issues all year long.
So how can we keep our pets safe? Read on to discover everything you need to know to keep your dogs and cats free of pests.
Why spring might be troublesome
Simply put, especially if you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, spring is when all the bugs start to come out.
“We see fleas and ticks on pets almost every day during the warmer months, which is why a discussion about how best to protect your pets is an important one,” says Dr. Renee Fleming, a veterinarian at Guelph Animal Hospital and Vetster veterinarian.
She notes that once it starts to warm up — to around 39℉ (4℃) — fleas and ticks start waking up and getting ready to find their fluffy meals. As for heartworm, that’s mostly transmitted by mosquitoes — another annoying insect that comes out once the weather warms up (and sometimes year-round in warmer climates).
Start your annual prevention activities
The early days of spring are the best time to get your pets up to date on treatments. But Fleming says not to make it a specific day every year.
“It is important to note that relying simply on the calendar alone to know when to administer flea, tick, and heartworm products is not as important as relying on the weather.”
Flea and tick prevention work forward. This means that what you apply to your pet will last for the next one to three months, depending on the product. Heartworm prevention, however, works retroactively. It’s goal is to treat infected mosquito bites from the month before you give them the medication. So while starting these annual rounds of treatment in February for flea and tick and June for heartworm may be advised for your specific climate, it’s really most important to watch for warming temperatures and adjust your time frame accordingly.
“We encourage owners to visit us in the spring for a checkup and discussion about your pets lifestyle and potential exposure risk,” Fleming says.
Prevention products — which should always be acquired through your vet to ensure their quality and safety — can include pills, chewable tablets, topical treatments, and sprays. If you’re in a warmer climate, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping up with your prevention all year.
What to watch for
So you’ve gotten your pets ready for the spring bug rush and are about to head outside. Here’s what symptoms to watch for later — and why it’s important to know them — to ensure your fuzzballs stay healthy.
Fleas are pretty much just a nuisance, Fleming says, but they can still cause allergic reactions on your pets’ skin, spread some disease, and can get pretty much everywhere. Plus, they only hang out on pets to feed — the rest of the time, they’ll be making themselves cozy in your home. And once they’re in, they’re hard to eliminate. Watch out for:
- Lots of scratching
- Pimply red bumps
- Hair loss
Ticks are a bigger issue, because they spread disease — most notably Lyme Disease, which can cause kidney problems and joint issues. Fleming says lethargy, fever, and the inability to use some limbs are some major symptoms to look out for, but also keep an eye out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Painful joints
- Swollen glands
And make sure you’re doing tick checks on your pets after they’ve been outside, including in hard-to-reach places. Ticks love to hide. It’s especially important to watch for ticks these days — as global temperatures warm, ticks are spreading to more and more locations around the world. Even if they weren’t an issue before, they might be now.
Heartworm is a major problem. It can cause permanent illness in your pets and even death. If you’ve been around mosquitoes, specifically watch for:
- Persistent cough
- Intense lethargy
- Lack of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
Treatment options are limited, so be sure you’re keeping up on preventative measures.
Start a prevention plan
If you’re unsure of what your pet needs, or when to get started, a Vetster vet is only a few clicks away to answer all your questions. You can design a plan based on your geographic location, climate, and pet – because, yes, even indoor pets need preventative care.
Book a flea and tick consultation today and get 30% off with code FLEATICK30. Click here to book now.
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