Heartworm + Flea Preventions: Does My Pet Really Need This?

Avoiding infection of heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks in your beloved dog and cat is essential for the pets’ health. 

This can easily be prevented in both dogs and cats with monthly medications purchased from your veterinarian. There are various preventatives on the market these days and each medication is slightly different in which parasites they protect against and the mode of how they work.

That is why discussing the individual needs of your pet with your trusted veterinarian is important. They can tailor the appropriate preventative to your pet’s specific needs so that your pet is being protected, without being given products it doesn’t necessarily need.

Heartworms are parasitic worms transmitted by mosquitoes to both dogs and cats.

As these parasites mature in the pet’s body, they migrate and live out their adult life cycle in the major vessels of the lungs, and sometimes the heart. These parasites eventually lead to damage of the heart, lungs, liver or kidneys ultimately leading to death if not caught early and treated promptly.

Heartworm treatment can be very expensive as well as very demanding on the dog’s body and could lead to the dog’s death during or after treatment. Unfortunately, at this time there is no approved treatment for heartworms in cats. Ask any veterinarian out there and almost every one of them know of a patient who died from heartworm disease or died from the treatment of these parasites. (Learn more: Why Your Pet Needs a Heartworm Test Every Year.)

While many people think of fleas as purely a huge annoyance these tiny bloodsucking parasites can actually pose serious health risks.

In mild cases, your dog or cat may only be bothered with constant itching, scratching, and biting at themselves. Certain pets have allergies to these fleas, so not only do the parasites irritate the pet by constantly biting them, but the saliva those bloodsuckers leave behind can cause significant allergic reactions to the pet.

Fleas can transmit tapeworms to both dogs and cats and in severe flea infestations of puppies and kittens, the feeding fleas may remove enough blood to cause life-threatening anemia. (Learn more: Know Your Parasites.)

Unfortunately some people have a negative stigma or connotation with these safe products.

They have a friend of a friend whose neighbor thinks their dog died from one of these preventatives. With the use of social media, these people have created fear and false accusations about these products that prevent disease and illness in pets. With the false claims circling the internet and social media pages, we occasionally have clients question whether or not these products should be given to their dear pets.

We get it, we understand. You want what’s best for your pet, and so do we! As a veterinary community we are frequently reading articles and reports, and asking drug companies about new medications as well as products that have been on the market for a while.

These monthly preventative medications that people are scared of are all FDA approved.

For a medication to be FDA approved, it is required to go through rigorous testing before being sold to millions of pets.  For a product to stay approved and out on the market for consumption, the drug companies and the FDA conduct continuous, on-going monitoring on these products, to determine if there are any signals or trends in the reported data of adverse effects.

Ultimately, monthly heartworm, intestinal parasite, flea and tick preventatives are an important and vital component to your pets health and well-being.

Protecting them against these irritating, painful, and life-threatening diseases are relatively easy. A discussion with your veterinarian should be made prior to starting any of these products to determine which product is best suited for your pet.

Several of these preventatives are available through our online pharmacies. To shop online for your pet’s foods and medications, visit:

Fall Creek Place’s Online Pharmacy
Mass Ave’s Online Pharmacy
Fountain Square’s Online Pharmacy

If you have any questions, concerns or hesitations about any of these products, the best place to have a discussion about what’s best for your pet is with your veterinarian, not social media.