3 Easy Steps To Prevent Dangerous Diseases in Your Pet
You love your four-legged best friend and would do anything to keep her by your side for as long as you can. Fortunately, many health conditions that threaten to shorten your pet’s life are completely preventable, with little effort on your part. A few minutes each month can keep your furry friend healthy for years longer than pets who don’t receive routine care to prevent common diseases. Following these three easy steps can help you prevent more than eight dangerous diseases in your pet.
#1: Provide year-round heartworm prevention for your pet
Preventing deadly heartworm disease is as simple as giving your pet a treat-like chewie once a month, all year long. In case you are unfamiliar with heartworm disease, which was diagnosed in more than 540 New Jersey pets last year alone, here are some basic facts:
We stock a variety of heartworm preventives, and a team member can help you choose the option that best fits your pet’s needs. As an added bonus, many heartworm preventives also prevent some intestinal worms your pet can pick up from the environment, including in your own backyard. Although intestinal worms rarely cause life-threatening disease, pets with heavy infections can become significantly dehydrated and anemic.
- Heartworms are passed by mosquitoes — Microscopic heartworms are picked up by a mosquito that bites an infected dog and can be transmitted to other dogs it bites. Inside a dog’s body, the larval worms grow to 12-inch-long adults that multiply and can cause significant problems.
- Heartworms cause severe heart and lung disease — Adult heartworms live inside a dog’s heart and nearby blood vessels, where they obstruct blood flow, trigger significant inflammation, and eventually cause heart failure.
- Cats can develop heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD) — Although heartworms cannot reproduce inside cats, the few larval worms transmitted by a mosquito can live inside a cat’s lungs and cause considerable inflammation. Affected cats often have asthma-like signs and their condition can quickly deteriorate.
- Preventing heartworm disease is easier than treatment — Dogs can undergo heartworm treatment, but it is extremely uncomfortable for them, can cause deadly complications, and it is expensive. Monthly heartworm prevention medication is much easier on your dog—and your wallet.
#2: Administer year-round flea and tick prevention to your pet
In addition to being creepy, fleas and ticks can transmit many serious diseases to your pet. Since ticks are prevalent in New Jersey, a number of tick-borne diseases that cause serious health problems are commonly diagnosed in pets, including:
Fleas are a constant threat to pets, causing itchy bites, and sometimes severe allergies, and can also transmit diseases, such as:
- Lyme disease (19,785 cases diagnosed in New Jersey pets in 2019) — Caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is transmitted mainly by the black-legged tick. Lyme disease can cause vague, generalized illness signs, such as fever, lethargy, painful joints, and swollen lymph nodes. Without treatment, Lyme disease can damage the heart, nervous system, or kidneys, and kidney failure that may result is typically fatal. Dogs who spend time outdoors should receive a yearly Lyme disease vaccine, in addition to tick prevention.
- Anaplasmosis (14,727 cases diagnosed in New Jersey pets in 2019) — Anaplasmosis is caused by bacteria of the species Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys, which are transmitted via a tick bite. Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection most commonly causes arthritis that affects multiple joints, but can also cause more serious problems, such as breathing difficulties, meningitis, or neurologic issues. Anaplasma platys infection causes infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia, or periodic platelet deficiencies, that can lead to blood clotting problems.
- Ehrlichiosis (7,882 cases diagnosed in New Jersey pets in 2019) — Canine ehrlichiosis is caused by a bacteria, Ehrlichia canis, that is transmitted by several tick species. Once inside your dog’s body, the bacteria attack the white blood cells and may cause short-term illness characterized by vague signs. Dogs often spontaneously recover from the initial phase, and may become infection-free, or may develop long-term disease. Chronic Ehrlichia infection can affect almost any body system and can cause dangerous complications, significant organ damage, and death, if not treated promptly.
Ticks are active from early spring to late fall, and fleas can survive temperatures as low as 30 degrees for extended periods, making year-round prevention critical to keep your pet disease-free. We offer a variety of safe, effective flea and tick preventives that will keep these nasty critters from passing on a dangerous disease to your pet.
- Murine typhus
#3: Screen your pet for disease annually
Although we will help you do everything possible to minimize disease transmission, a tick may still find its way onto your dog, or your pet may vomit her heartworm preventive behind the couch. Annual screening is critical to detect possible diseases in their early stages, before they cause life-threatening damage. During your pet’s annual wellness exam, we will recommend the following tests:
Your pet’s health is our top priority. Together, we can prevent disease and help her live a long, healthy life. If you need heartworm, flea, or tick prevention products, or it’s time for your pet’s annual disease screening, give us a call.
- Canine 4Dx testing — With only a few drops of blood, we can screen for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis in about 10 minutes.
- Fecal analysis — A microscopic evaluation of your pet’s stool will let us know if she has contracted tapeworms from fleas or picked up intestinal worms or parasites from the environment.