Spring Pet Health Tips

Spring is in the air! Along with the warmer weather, springtime also means that fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests, are going to be more prevalent. Here are some spring pet care tips to help you manage a few of these pests.

Mosquitos pose a DEADLY threat to dogs and cats! Mosquito bites transmit heartworm disease to dogs and cats. Heartworm disease is a very lethal disease in which the adult worms live in the pulmonary arteries and heart of dogs. If left untreated heartworm disease causes heart failure in dogs and can cause respiratory disease or sudden death in cats. Symptoms include coughing, lethargy, a bloated abdomen, and respiratory distress. Unfortunately sometimes by the time the symptoms are seen in a pet it can be too late. Heartworm prevention is imperative to keeping your pets healthy. Heartworm prevention must be purchased from a veterinarian and it comes in several forms from monthly chewable tablets, topicals, to a twice yearly injection. Dogs should be heartworm tested by a veterinarian once yearly. Heartworm disease is extremely prevalent in Texas so all dogs and cats should be on heartworm prevention all year.

Fleas can be a problem all year in Texas however they tend to like warmer, more humid environments. Fleas can become out of control on your pets and in your home very quickly. One flea can multiply into 1,000 fleas in just 21 days! Typically, your pet will pick up fleas by being outdoors or by spending time with other infested animals. Fleas lay their eggs in the environment and can quickly infest carpets and bedding. Fleas feed on your pet’s blood. They are very irritating and lead to itching, scratching and sometimes hair loss or skin infections. Fleas can also cause anemia, severe dermatitis, tapeworms (by ingesting an infected flea that is carrying tapeworm larvae), and other infections. There are many flea prevention products available but they are not all effective. Many over-the-counter flea shampoos and other products are not effective because they do not control the flea eggs and they are not long lasting. There are effective flea prevention products sold by veterinarians that are much more effective, including topicals and chewable tablets.

Your pets can also pick up ticks when they are outdoors. Ticks can be in hard to detect places. Ticks can cause a variety of health risks, anemia, and skin infections. Ticks transmit serious blood-borne-parasite diseases such as Erlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme Disease. Tick prevention products should be purchased from a veterinarian.

At Spring Branch Veterinary Hospital we are happy to speak with you about a parasite prevention program that will fit your pet’s individual needs. Call us for an appointment 830-438-7800.

Megan Hughes, DVM