Preventative Care
for Cats and Dogs

Preventative

A simple way you can help keep your pet healthy is by protecting him or her against parasites. Heartworms, fleas, ticks, and other internal and external parasites are much more than just pests; they can cause life-threatening conditions in your pet—and cause severe, potentially fatal, health problems for you and your family. We will recommend the best preventive regimen for your pet, based on lifestyle and risk factors. We can also provide expert advice on keeping your whole household safe from parasitic infection. Set up an appointment with us to discuss parasite prevention, or call us to refill your pet’s medication. Protect your pet and your family today!

We are just a phone call away – (904)-436-PETS (7387).

Remember the old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - those wise words directly relate to the health care of our pets. Avoiding illness is always better than treating it, so let’s explore ways to prevent diseases rather than cure them.

Fleas

Dr. Marsigliano has worked with one of the researchers for a common prescription flea prevention (that she believes is the best on the market) so she has inside information about these nasty little buggers. Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from minor to life-threatening. Not only can these parasites cause severe itching, irritation, and allergies, but they can also transmit tapeworms and diseases. Fleas can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, and rats. And fleas don’t just stay on pets; they can bite people, too, and transmit diseases to humans as well. Fleas are the underlying cause of cat scratch fever, a potentially fatal infection that can occur in people exposed to flea stool. 

We recommend year-round flea prevention for all pets, including cats that live strictly indoors. Flea infestations are common in apartment complexes, and even indoor-only cats living in detached homes can be exposed to fleas that hitchhike on their owner’s clothing.

 

You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home. We can help keep them away or help you get rid of them if they’ve already found their way inside. With the right medication for your pet, you can avoid wasting money on ineffective environmental management products or toxic measures like flea bombing your home. Call us to find out how to eliminate and control fleas or to start your pet on a preventive today.

Ticks

Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in North America, and they’re now being found in areas where people and pets didn’t previously encounter ticks, including right here in Jacksonville. These parasites aren’t just a nuisance; they can cause serious—and sometimes deadly—diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tick paralysis. Contact us immediately if your pet starts having joint pain, trouble breathing, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite, weight, energy, or coordination, as these signs could point to a tick-borne disease. Our annual screening panels screen dogs for these common tick-borne diseases.

 

The best method for keeping ticks off your pet is by keeping your dog or cat on a tick preventive. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing or shoes. Tick preventives are safe and highly effective at controlling ticks and the diseases they carry. Call us to get your pet protected today!

 

Don’t panic if you find a tick on your dog or cat, even if your pet is on a preventative. Some preventives, like Bravecto, kill ticks after they’ve come in contact with your pet, but they kill the tick before it has the opportunity to transmit disease Ticks can hide easily under your pet’s fur, so as an added measure of protection, we recommend checking your pet for ticks every time your pet comes in from outside. And don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have.

Heartworms

When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. And those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog or cat. These parasites can severely and even fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Most pets will not show any signs of infection until very late in their disease; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.

 

Although often thought to not be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.

 

Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention. There is no approved treatment for cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. And even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.

 

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering monthly heartworm preventives every 30 days (or in the case of Bravecto Plus, a cat-specific product, every 60 days). Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. We can recommend the best regimen of prevention for your pet depending on their lifestyle, taste preferences, etc. ProHeart12 is a convenient alternative to monthly products. ProHeart12 is an injection given every 12 months to prevent heartworm disease. Dr. M and Dr. Green use ProHeart12 in their dogs because they found it difficult to consistently administer oral monthly heartworm preventives every 30 days. Being late on a dose by even a few days can leave a gap in a pet’s protection, and this was a risk our veterinarians did not want to take.

 

Very rarely, heartworm prevention can fail. Partly due to improper and inconsistent heartworm prevention, some heartworms can be become resistant to a common heartworm prevention, ivermectin. With this possibility for heartworm resistance as well as the risks with any gaps in coverage, a heartworm test is recommended annually, as well as 6 months following known gaps in coverage. If your pet has been receiving heartworm prevention consistently and they develop heartworms due to medication resistance, we can advocate on your and your pet’s behalf if the failed products were bought through our hospital or our online pharmacy, but we cannot provide this same guarantee for products acquired elsewhere.