I recently read a blog by Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian in North Carolina. Dr. Ward told a story about a client whose dog became infected with heartworm disease. The client thought that it was impossible because she was applying a topical preventative on her pet every month. She had purchased the preventative at a store and thought she was doing what was needed to provide the best protection for her dog. In reality she was not giving a heartworm preventative at all but was applying a flea preventative. This was a costly mistake for the woman and for her pet’s health.
I have had many similar conversations with pet owners uncertain about what the products they are giving their pets actually do. With the multitude of options available for heartworm and flea and tick prevention, it is no wonder there is confusion. There is no one product that does it all. The best way to be sure that what you are using is safe and effective is to consult with your veterinarian.
Safety is an important consideration when using flea and tick products. I spoke to a woman last week who had applied a store-bought product on her dog. She had no idea what product she had used. Her pet became so sick that she needed to take it to the emergency clinic for care.
Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of many of the ingredients found in flea and tick products. Some can even cause death. It is important to be aware of the products you are using on your pet and to use them correctly. It is also important to have the advice and support of the veterinarian and the manufacturer when giving a heartworm preventative or applying flea and tick medication. Most products do not have the manufacturers support when purchased outside of a veterinary hospital. If your pet has an adverse reaction or becomes ill after applying or administering a flea, tick or heartworm preventative and you purchased your product on–line or in a store you are on your own.
Did you know that in most cases, by purchasing from your local veterinarian, you will spend less than you would spend on-line or at a pet or “big box” store? Most veterinarians have made a point to price heartworm, flea and tick products very competitively. Manufactures are also offering incentives including extra doses and rebates that have made veterinary products even more affordable. Dr. Ward in his article also points out that not only are you getting the advice and information you need and the veterinary product guarantee, but you also are supporting your local economy.
None of us likes using topical medications on our dogs and cats, yet the risk from mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and the diseases they transmit is ever increasing. Lyme disease, anaplasma, Ehrlichia canis, bartonella, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesia are among the many emerging vector-borne diseases we are finding in Minnesota, Wisconsin and many other states. For more information on these and other parasites click here. To view interactive prevalence maps detailing the incidence of parasites in each state click here.
Be aware that these diseases are a real threat and get the protection you and your pet need to stay safe and out of harm’s way. Don’t be afraid of using a flea and tick preventative but understand what you are purchasing and get educated about the safe and effective use of heartworm, flea and tick products.
Dr. Ginger Garlie