MUST-KNOW DISEASE PREVENTION FOR PETS
Vaccines, Heartworm, Fleas & Ticks - Oh My! What do all these have in common? They all play a role in preventative medicine for your pet. At GBAAH, we strive to put prevention and well being first rather than having to treat disease later. There are so many diseases your pet can get that are preventable. For example, Dr. Becky has never yet diagnosed a case of distemper. Even though there are occasional outbreaks in the United States, it is rare. Without vaccinating for distemper, that could all change.
While some vaccinations are required by law, at GBAAH we vaccinate for lifestyle. We will talk to you about your pet and decide on the best protocol for them. If your pet only leaves the house for potty breaks, they may not need every vaccination but we still recommend some. Pets leave the house for various reasons like trips to the vet and boarding and may be exposed to potential health threats if they are not vaccinated.
The core vaccines for dogs and cats are rabies and distemper. In fact, the rabies vaccine is required by law. Rabies is a true threat, especially in Wisconsin. The main carriers are bats and skunks. Every year, GBAAH gets at least one report that someone killed a bat in their house. Rabies is 99.9% deadly and there is no cure. The distemper vaccine is a combo vaccination and has several vaccinations within it. Distemper has nothing to do with attitude, it is a viral disease.
Lifestyle vaccines for dogs are bordetella (kennel cough), leptospirosis, and Lyme. In Wisconsin and other tick friendly climates, vaccinating for Lyme is due to lifestyle and necessity. Lyme can also be prevented by an oral medicine given year round, once per month.
Vaccines are not the only tool in the arsenal to help prevent disease in your pet and Lyme is not the only disease preventable with oral medications. Heartworms, fleas and ticks can all bring disease to your pet, but there are tools to prevent that.
MOSQUITOS CARRY HEARTWORM DISEASE
Did you know that mosquitoes start to hatch at 50 degrees? Did you also know that mosquitoes carry and spread heartworm disease to your dog? The mosquito passes a very immature stage of the heartworm that then matures into adult males and female worms living inside your dog’s major blood vessels in their lungs and their heart. It takes approximately 6-7 months for the worms to mature. The adult worms cause damage to the blood vessels that can lead to severe lung disease and heart failure.You can help protect your dog from developing heartworm disease by giving a heartworm preventive prescribed by your veterinarian. It is important you follow the directions of your veterinarian and the product. Your veterinarian will need to perform a simple blood test before starting your dog on prevention and on a yearly basis thereafter. At GBAAH, we use and recommend Heartgard to be used year round, given one time per month. It is super
important to be consistent in giving your pet their monthly dosage as Heartgard works backwards and ensures that your pet is protected 100% of the time.
A great resource to go to for all things heartworm is the American Heartworm Society.
FLEAS & TICKS ARE YEAR-ROUND THREATS
Last, but not least are fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks are a year round nuisance. Fleas are 100% preventable. Signs that your pet has fleas can range from increased itching to red bumps, skin infections and even hair loss. Some pets are super allergic to flea bites. Fleas can be detected by using a flea comb at your veterinary clinic. Fleas are highly dangerous to your pet and can pass on tapeworms, give them anemia and even cause death.
Ticks are also highly dangerous to your pet. Ticks carry Lyme disease and anaplasmosis (bacterial disease) to your pet and they don’t go away just because it gets cold outside. It is important to note that Lyme disease is zoonotic, which means that you can get infected from your pet. Besides checking your pet for ticks when they come in from outside, we also recommend Nexgard, which protects against fleas and ticks. Just like Heartgard, it is recommended to give year round, one time per month and to be consistent about sticking to that schedule.
While you wouldn’t get a vaccine for your pet online or at a local store, you do see some of those places offering to sell you products like Heartgard and Nexgard. We urge you to only purchase these from your vet. We understand buying them online may be less expensive and be more convenient, but there are many risks to keep in mind. The companies that make Heartgard and Nexgard ONLY sell to vets. Somehow and someway, third party distributors are selling these to you online and in stores. The risk is that these counterfeit products are not backed 100%, like they are when you get them from your vet. Should your pet have a reaction to the drug, the company will pay for any and all treatment to help your pet through that. If you buy online or in a store, not only are you out the money, but you could be out way more in paying for treatment.
For example, per the American Heartworm Society, the average heartworm prevention costs $70-$200 while treatment can cost up to $1,200-$1,800.
If your pets are not up to date on their vaccines or if you’ve fallen behind with their other preventive medications, don’t fall farther behind. Call the office today to get your pet's status or to schedule an appointment to get caught up. Help us keep your pets safe, disease free and with your family for a long time. We love to see your pets grow old with you.