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Posted on 09-29-2012

There are many different options today for good parasite control, but heartworm and flea control products are among the most commonly used, and for good reason.  Heartworms are carried by mosquitoes and their infective larvae are microscopic.  Without routine blood testing, these worms are usually undetectable until a pet goes into heart failure.  The other culprit, fleas, can multiply extremely fast, stay dormant in the carpet or furniture folds for months, can carry tapeworms, and cause chronic and severe skin problems. 

Here in the South, you should have them on some type of heartworm and flea preventative year round.  In general, the medications and dosages used for prevention are typically lower than would be used for treatment.  Especially in the case of heartworm disease, the toxicity of medications used for prevention is significantly less than those used for treatment.   In the long run, we end up saving on medications to treat preventable conditions, and more importantly, have healthier dogs with less risk of complications secondary to these infections. 

Luckily there are many safe options for our pets and their owners.  It is best to discuss these options with your veterinarian to decide the best fit for you and your family.  The best product is one that you will use regularly, controls the issues, is effective for your lifestyle, and minimizes your family’s exposure to medications.

Many times we wonder whether the benefits outweigh the risks of giving all of these products to our beloved dogs.  In the case of flea and heartworm prevention, they do.  Fleas can cause serious dermatologic as well as medical problems, and heartworm disease is a costly and dangerous disease to treat should your dog contract it.   Intestinal parasites can also pose a risk to the people in our families as well.  Prevention is still the best medicine.

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