Pet Heartworm & Flea/Tick Prevention
Heartworm & Flea/Tick Prevention
Heartworm disease is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes. A mosquito carrying the heartworm larvae essentially injects these microscopic larvae into your dog by way of a mosquito bite. The larvae mature into adult heartworms that can grow to a foot long. The adult worms set up shop in the heart, preventing proper functioning of the heart and eventually sending the dog into congestive heart failure.
While heartworm disease has long been present in New England, we have seen a recent uptick in cases in our area, likely riding in on the coattails of rescue dogs brought to New England from other parts of the country where heartworm disease is prevalent.
Heartworm testing should be done once a year. This simple blood test checks for heartworm and also screens for common tick-borne diseases seen in the area, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and anaplasmosis.
We have a very effective preventive measure to protect your dog against heartworm: a once-monthly, flavored, chewable medication that most dogs eat as a treat. This medication works very well at keeping your dog from getting heartworm disease and also treats intestinal parasites at the same time.
Heartworm prevention is critically important because treatment of heartworm disease is expensive and carries with it some risks and discomfort for your dog. Further, in recent years we have seen growing resistance to the treatment protocol. Thus it is important to give the once-monthly heartworm preventive regularly and year-round.
Ticks in Massachusetts carry a host of diseases — not just Lyme disease but other diseases (like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and anaplasmosis) that can make dogs very sick and can be difficult to treat, particularly in their advanced stages. We routinely screen for these diseases as part of the heartworm testing discussed above, but our best strategy is to prevent them by keeping the ticks away.
Flea infestations can trigger severe skin allergies in dogs and cats, and fleas are the most common way dogs and cats contract tapeworms, an intestinal parasite. Fleas can bite people as well, particularly when the fleas have moved beyond your pets and into your carpeting and furniture.
Bravecto is a convenient chewable tablet for dogs that provides 12 weeks of protection against fleas and ticks. We will prescribe Bravecto to be filled by our online pharmacy. To simplify the process, we recommend enrolling in auto shipments so you receive one Bravecto chew every 12 weeks. When the chew arrives, just give it to your dog, and you’re all set for the next 12 weeks.
For cats, Bravecto is available as a topical treatment that has been very effective at controlling fleas in our area. Most indoor-only cats can skip flea prevention entirely, but if your cat spends any time outdoors, we recommend treating it with Bravecto.