Did you know that all year long, dogs and cats are susceptible to disease carrying fleas, ticks and mosquitos?
Most owners have heard of heartworm, a devastating disease that has become more common in our part of the world due to adoption of southern dogs, the increased temperatures and the perfect humidity for mosquitos to flourish. One out of 249 dogs in New York tested positive last year.
All puppies, beginning at 12 weeks of age, should be started on a monthly heartworm preventative and be kept on it yearly. Every dog, beginning when they are 8-12 months old, should be tested annually for heartworm disease. Here at Baldwin Harbor, we do an in-house blood test that gives us results in 10-15 minutes. Not only does this test (called a 4DX) test for heartworm, it also tests for the three most common tick born diseases, Lyme, Anaplasma, and Erlichia.
Tests are required initially to ensure that puppies were not affected when they were very young (before a test would be able to register the infections) and yearly thereafter to ensure no doses were missed, to guarantee the effectiveness of the monthly preventative, to monitor for disease in our area, and because giving heartworm preventative to a heartworm-positive dog can cause a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.
If your dog or cat stays mostly indoors, or is strictly indoors, there is still a risk of infection. Mosquitos are everywhere and often trail behind us when we enter or exit a house, mice carry fleas, and other intestinal parasites and even insects like cockroaches can carry intestinal worms.
Yearly fecal analysis allows us to monitor your pet for the most common gastrointestinal worms. One out of 39 dogs in New York have tested positive for roundworms, and one out of 13 cats! Roundworms can be transmitted to people and especially children. Many heartworm medications are effective for intestinal parasites, which is yet another reason to keep them on the medication year-round.
There are many companies with different types of heartworm, flea and tick prevention, but not all products are equally as effective or safe. For instance, products contianing permethrin often sold over the counter for fleas are toxic to cats!
We are happy to discuss which parasite preventatives best suit your pet. Please feel free to call us at (516) 379-5010, or ask us about it during your pet's next visit!