Fleas and ticks are capable of transmitting infection and disease to pets through a bite. Many pets also suffer from severe allergic reaction to the bites of fleas and ticks. It is imperative that owners prevent these parasites by using one of the many commercially available products that protect pets from fleas and ticks. Our staff and veterinarians will help you choose the correct product based on your pets risk factors and health status.
Heartworm & Tick-borne Disease Testing
Dogs (and cats) of any age or breed are susceptible to heartworm infection. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito infected by a parasite (Dirofilaria immtis.) If untreated, heartworms can cause serious heart and lung disease that can lead to death. Improvements in client education have increased client awareness of heartworm and its risks, yet infection rates have remained steady.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious, potentially deadly disease that affects dogs, cats and ferrets of all ages. It is caused by worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. The worms can cause lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body possibly resulting in death.
How is Heartworm Disease Transmitted?
Heartworm Disease is transmitted by mosquitos. If a mosquito bites an infected animal, the blood that they ingest carries baby worms called microfilaria. When this mosquito bites another animal it can deposit those microfilaria into their skin. After 6 months the microfilaria mature into adult worms. Heartworms can live 5-7 years in dogs and 2-3 years in cats if left untreated.
How is Heartworm Disease Prevented?
We offer several different monthly preventatives including Heartgard and Revolution. These preventatives work by killing off the tissue larval stages of heartworms therefore preventing the growth of mature heartworms. It is critical that you give these medications monthly. If you miss doses, your pet is at a higher risk for infection.
How do you test for Heartworms?
Heartworm disease can be diagnosed through a simple blood test that is run in our office. The 4DX Snap test is able to give us a positive or negative result in dogs within about 10 minutes. If your pet were to have a positive Snap test, we will likely recommend sending more blood to an outside lab for further testing.
How often do you test for Heartworm Disease?
Because it takes 6 months for heartworms to mature we recommend first testing your dog at 6 months of age. After that, we recommend annual testing.
Can Heartworm Disease be Treated?
Yes Heartworm Disease can be treated. However, it is an expensive, risky and potentially painful process especially if your pet is exhibiting any signs of infection.
What are the symptoms of Heartworm Disease?
Symptoms don’t usually start to show until the later stages of Heartworm disease. In this later stage you may notice your dog coughing, having trouble breathing or showing signs of exercise intolerance.
Is my pet more or less at risk based on where I live?
The incidents of Heartworm disease have in past years been mostly seen in the south eastern states of the US. However, over time this has changed. We now see an increasing number of cases here in New England. Click here for a map with the number of cases seen over the past few years.
For more information about Heartworm Disease visit https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources
You may have heard about an increase in the number of Lyme Disease cases in humans over recent years. The truth is, the same goes for our pets! Ticks are adaptable parasites that are capable of transmitting a variety of diseases. One tick can even carry multiple diseases! This is why regular screening for our pets are crucial. Many cases of tick-borne diseases go undetected because your pet may not show visible signs. Diseases spread by ticks like Lyme and Ehrlichiosis, can cause damage to your pet’s joints and internal organs before they start to exhibit any symptoms such as fever or limping. We recommend at least annual testing in order to detect tick-borne disease as early as possible.
What diseases can my pet get from ticks?
Most people know that ticks transmit Lyme disease, a chronic and debilitating illness, but they also carry bacteria that lead to other acute illnesses, such as anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. Some ticks carry more than one of these diseases, which can lead to co-infection. These diseases vary in severity depending on patient age and overall health, and all are zoonotic, meaning they can infect humans and other non-canine family members.
How do I know if my dog has any of these diseases?
The presence of one or more of these illnesses can be determined by a simple blood test, and we recommend all pets have this test performed on an annual basis. Any detected problems can receive an immediate intervention.
What are the symptoms of tick-borne disease?
It can be difficult to detect tick-borne disease because symptoms may not show up for months or at all. This is why we recommend yearly testing in order to catch the disease before it causes long term complications. The presence of one or more of these illnesses can be determined by a simple blood test that can be run at our office. Any detected problems can then receive an immediate intervention. If your pet exhibits any of the follow signs, it would be best to visit your veterinarian.