In the News
Advice From Your Vet: Heartworm Disease and Ticks
Most Minnesotans would agree that there is no place like home when looking for beautiful fall weather. Along with the changing foliage and moderate temps, we still get some sunlight in the evenings and don’t have to worry about those pesky mosquitoes and ticks… or do we?
The fall season isn’t as safe for our dogs as we think when it comes to parasites. As veterinarians, we’ve been successful helping people protect their beloved pets from disease such as heartworm and Lyme disease during the spring and summer, and we want that same protection to carry into the fall.
Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes, and preventatives such as Heartgard and Interceptor work by killing the larvae (microfilaria) our dogs have been exposed to the month prior. For example, a dose given in October is treating for exposure in Sep- tember. Mosquitoes remain active in temperatures as low as 50 F, which means our dogs are at risk of getting exposed to heart- worm disease well into the late fall. In 2016 the daytime high the week of Thanksgiving was 52 F, a dose of heartworm prevention would have to be given around Christmas to kill anything they were exposed to that week in November. The safest practice is to use heart worm preventatives year-round to protect not only for heartworm but some common intestinal parasites as well.
Ticks transmit bacterial diseases to our dogs such as Lyme, Ana- plasma, and Ehrlichia, which we see often in our region. The fall weather causes some species of ticks to go dormant while others (Deer tick) are feeding most actively. Most species of ticks will feed in temperatures as low as 45 F. This past year we even found ticks on dogs in FEBRUARY! Commonly used tick preventatives such as Frontline and Nexgard are very effective in preventing disease transmission and work by killing the ticks once they start the feeding process.
The warm weather we’ve experienced the past few years has left our pets at a greater risk than ever for these types of diseases. Using monthly preventatives is an easy and effective way to keep your pets safe. Please keep this information in mind, and discuss your pet’s specific needs with your veterinarian when deciding on a prevention plan.