One of the easiest things to do for your pet as an owner is monthly preventions. Ironically, this is one of the most misunderstood things out there for owners. There are so many ideas as to what works, what is safe, year round or not….the list goes on. I hope this helps clear up some common misconceptions about the importance and difference between monthly preventions for your pet.
First off, remember cats and dogs are two totally different species. And just because a product is safe for dogs does NOT mean it is safe for cats. You can safely use a product on a dog that can be toxic if applied to a cat. Because of this always follow the instructions on the product. Even saying this, there are many products that are sold over the counter that say safe for cats that can potentially be toxic and possibly fatal if used. It may take only one use or prolonged use but these products can cause permanent liver and kidney damage and even neurological complications.
Many of your “cheap” over the counter flea and tick products contain insecticides. This is what is toxic to your cat. Flea collars and powders are also generally made from insecticides. They are not very effective at killing fleas and even less effective with ticks. They will wash off if your pet is bathed (which is good if your cat is having a reaction and you need to get the product off of them) and sunlight will break the product down so they usually do not last the whole month it is labeled for. This leaves your pet open to bring those nasty critters into your house which can quickly become infested with fleas and they are very difficult to get rid of. Also remember that as you hold your cat and they lay on your furniture, whatever product you put on them (like a flea collar that leaves behind a powdery residue for instance) is getting onto you, your hands, your furniture etc.
The products that our hospital carries have undergone extensive testing and are shown to be effective in killing fleas and ticks yet also safe for your pets. For cats, we recommend revolution which is a monthly prevention for many different things. It is effective in killing fleas and ticks, and it is also a monthly dewormer for your cat since we never know for sure what they are hunting and catching outside. It is also a heartworm prevention as well as a prevention for ear mites. For your canine companions we carry a couple different products, Activyl Tick Plus as well and Vectra 3D. These are both safe and very effective products. There is also a new product on the market called Nexgard which is an oral flea and tick prevention for your dog. So if your pet has extra sensitive skin or you prefer not to use topicals this is a brand new option for you.
Another monthly prevention we recommend for your dog is a once a month, year round heartworm prevention. We carry two different products – Heartgard Plus and Sentinel. Both are extremely safe. In our area, we do not see as much heartworm disease as on the coastline or down south. Heartworms are transmitted through mosquitoes and can be deadly if not found and treated properly. Even with treatment, heartworms do permanent damage to your pets’ heart. In our area intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are very common. Your pet can easily pick these up as they sniff around outside or munch on grass and dirt and the eggs of these worms can lay dormant in the environment until ingested. Even if your pet only goes outside to go to the bathroom, as they sniff around to find that “perfect spot” they have that chance of picking up parasites. These worms can cause all kinds of gastrointestinal problems for your pet as well as leaving your pet looking malnourished or bloated depending on the kind of parasite. If you the parent of young children this monthly prevention is extremely important since roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic parasites. This means they are able to be transmitted between different species. In people roundworms can cause blindness. Hookworms in people affect your lungs and small intestines.
We recommend using flea/tick and heartworm prevention all year round in our area. Yes, we may see snow in the winter but all that is needed is one or two days of above freezing temperatures and those nasty parasites come right back out. Especially heartworm prevention you do not want to start and stop. If your pet has been off prevention for over a month they should be tested before starting back on prevention again.
If you have any questions about monthly preventions for your pet please call our office at 410-848-3100 and we will be happy to answer them for you.