As the snow melts and the rivers rise, out come the creepy crawlers that just love to hitch a ride on your dog or cat. With warming temperatures the primary thing to be aware of is mosquitos and the spread heartworm. Heartworm is a nasty parasite that can cause serious problems in dogs and sometimes cats. They spread through infected mosquitoes when they bite dogs. Dogs are the primary host in which they grow and develop into adult heartworms that populate dogs’ cardiovascular and respiratory systems causing a number of very serious and life-threatening problems. Though treatment does exist, it is very expensive, and can cause toxicity problems in some dogs. This is why we recommend ALL dogs be on heartworm preventative! It is an easy once-a-month chewable tablet that protects your dog from heartworm disease as well as common intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Prior to starting heartworm preventative (such as Interceptor Plus), all dogs should receive a heartworm test to ensure no existing heartworm disease.
Other creepy crawlers to be aware of are ticks and fleas. Some people falsely claim that Colorado has no ticks. While it is true that many of the species that you see on the east coast or southwest United States are not found in Colorado, we have our own species that love high altitudes and can often be found hiding in the shrubbery of wooded areas next to trails and rivers. The ticks in Colorado can sometimes carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that they can pass on to your dog during feeding. While the risk of your dog getting ticks may depend on your specific location and activities, we encourage you to use prevention if the risk is significant, particularly if you have found any ticks on your dog in the past. Preventative comes in two forms – one is a topical gel that is absorbed through the skin on the dog’s back, and the other is a chewable tablet. Both forms work for one month. The preventatives also work on fleas. Flea and tick preventative is HIGHLY encouraged if your dog is traveling to warmer, wetter regions of the United States where fleas and ticks are much more prevalent.