Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Vaccination Schedule For Puppies an...
Vaccination Schedule For Puppies and Dogs - Complete Guide

Prevent Pet Fleas, Heartworm, & Tapeworm Parasites Year Round

by | May 19, 2016 | Dog Training & Care | 4 comments

Wizard of Bugs

Good bug protection isn’t magic–it’s common sense! (Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com)

(whispering…a la Wizard of Oz)

Heartworms and tapeworms and fleas, OH MY!

Hookworms and roundworms and whips, OH MY!

Year round prevention of bugs? OH MY!

(singing)

We’re….OFF to see the Wizard…

Hey, I couldn’t resist, y’all know about my theater background, and here in North Texas we’ve been dodging tornadoes lately.

Besides, when it comes to pet parasites, I just want to unleash the FLYING MONKEYS…except they’re liable to be plagued by fleas, too. Even flying monkeys deserve to be pest free, but there are still many pet parents who may not have all the facts about canine intestinal and external parasites and how to kick the bugs out. So…how much do YOU know?

THE TRUTH ABOUT FLEAS

The flea’s flat body is armored with cuticle plates that make it nearly crush-proof, and the narrow profile promotes easy movement through fur. An adult flea can live from a few weeks to more than a year, but more typically lives about thirty days. Fleas set up permanent housekeeping on the pet, and stay there unless involuntarily evicted. However, adults represent only about 5 percent of the total flea population. The remaining 95 percent of the bug count is composed of immature life stages: eggs, larvae and cocoons.

Drawing of cartoon flea

Fleas are NOT cute…and nothing to laugh about. (Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com)

After mating, female fleas store sperm to use as needed; a blood meal stimulates her to lay eggs. She can produce over 2000 eggs in thirty days, and up to 50 each day. Eggs typically fall from the host, and may remain dormant in the environment (the carpet or yard) for as long as six months. But normally, eggs hatch into tiny, maggot-like larvae within one to two weeks. They are virtually invisible to the naked eye, and subsist on the waste passed by adult fleas (sometimes referred to as “flea dirt), and other organic material.

Larvae spin cocoons in about three weeks, where they mature into adults. From inside the cocoon, the flea’s antennae and bristles are able to detect body heat and odor, changes in light, touch and moisture, and even traces of carbon dioxide exhalation of a nearby host. This prompts the flea to emerge from the cocoon, and immediately snag a canine victim. The cycle from egg to adult takes only 21 days under ideal conditions. Meanwhile, all those immature stages can just hang around and wait for a good time to target your pooch.

MagicKarma2

Fleas in my bed mean bug bites for me, too! (Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC)

Dogs that come indoors for even brief periods will seed flea eggs in your house which, given time to mature, quickly turn your house into a flea hotel. Fleas lurk in dog beds, (AND PEOPLE BEDS!), upholstery, carpeting, and even in your car! Vacuuming may even help spread the buggy bounty to other rooms in your house. That turns flea problems from a “seasonal itch” into a year round hazard.

WHY DOGS NEED ALL YEAR PARASITE HELP

The weather is so mild here in Texas, that mosquitoes are year round pests, which makes canine heartworm disease a hazard all year long, for both indoor and outdoor pets. But the same is true if you live in cold northern states. Here’s why.

Dogs must be protected with a preventive heartworm treatment for at least 6 months after being last bitten by a mosquito, or you risk having heartworms develop. That’s because the medications can only kill the stages of a developing heartworm for the first ~3-4 months after a bite, and again once it becomes an adult by about 6 months after the mosquito bite.

That leaves a DANGER ZONE gap during which no drug is effective against these deadly parasites.

Magic

Magic deserves relief from parasite persecution! And…he can bring fleas INDOORS to my two indoor only cats. (Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC)

Heartworm Life Cycle

When an infected mosquito bites your dog in August, larvae are deposited upon the skin and gain entrance to the body through the bite wound left by the mosquito. The heartworm undergoes many more molts and development stages during the next several months, during which time it migrates inside your dog’s body. Learn about cat heartworm disease here.

Heartworm preventive can kill these baby worms during this migratory state, and prevent the parasite from reaching the heart and pulmonary arteries where it matures–it’s important, though, to treat a couple of months beyond the last mosquito bite of the season and on into the fall. But here’s the deal: how do you know the date of your dog’s last mosquito bite? Besides, that’s not how preventative is designed to work. Starting and stopping and missing the right timing risks your dog’s health.

Think about it. If you stop giving your dog preventive for half the year during the cold season, because you’re guessing mosquitoes aren’t around, you probably won’t kill the “baby worms” already percolating for potential havoc inside your canine buddy. In my part of the country (N. Texas), mosquitoes hang around even during the winter.

Because it’s so economical to prevent this threat, yet costs major $$ (and possibly your dog’s life) if you forget a dose, it’s really a no-brainer for me. Besides, getting in the habit of a healthy routine helps you remember and never forget to give your special dogs their preventative.

The best and easiest way to protect your dog is to never skip a dose because heartworm preventative is most effective against infections that occurred in the month prior to taking the medicine. I treat Magical-Dawg year round with preventive to keep him flea and heartworm free. What about you?

Learn about tick prevention in this post about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and this post about Ehrlichiosis.


YouTube Button

Subscribe to Amy’s YouTube Channel

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

4 Comments

  1. M. K. Clinton

    We treat for heartworms year round because we have mosquitoes at Christmas. I love the #SentinelSpectrum so I don’t have to worry about any of those nasty creatures. Yuck!

    • Amy Shojai

      …and ya know, CATS can get heartworm disease even if they’re exclusively indoor kitties. Those mosquitoes an get inside and stay around much longer than you’d think.

  2. Barbara Burnett

    Is there a product that will kill fleas and worms in cats. Something in a single product?

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Barbara. Sentinel is not designed for cats, but there are other “single” products that do protect cats from heartworm, fleas, and some intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms. I believe these products are also prescription based, so you should ask your vet for a recommendation. As far as I know, the Sentinel products for dogs are the only ones that address tapeworm.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tapeworm Trouble? All aAbout Solving Parasite Problems! - […] can read a brief overview of common dog parasites here. And you’ll find more specifics about fleas, heartworms and year…
  2. Dog Parasite Treatment; #SentinelSpectrum Offers Tasty Answers - […] HEARTWORMS are one of the “invisible” but most deadly parasite affecting dogs, and are type of roundworm called Dirofilaria immitis…
  3. Sick Kitty: What to Do About Anorexia When Pets Won't EatAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] a pet to refuse to eat, though. Life-threatening diseases such as distemper or kidney failure, parasites such as hookworms,…

Categories:

Recent Posts

Doggy DNA Misconceptions About Nature vs Nurture

Doggy DNA Misconceptions About Nature vs Nurture

Dog DNA tests today are popular because it influences both looks and behavior. Some dog breeds are known for specific tendencies. But socialization and training, and even mom-dog’s nurturing influence, also impact dogs.

Some dogs have to deal with a “ruff” reputation based entirely on dog dna and what breed they are – or just look like. Pit Bulls for instance seem to get lots of bad press for dog-on-dog aggression, but we also call them the “Nanny Dog” because they’re so darn good with kids. Other muscular dogs, big dogs like Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, can get called out as aggressive, dangerous or problematic based entirely on their looks, before they ever show signs of a snarl. Of course, ALL dogs have teeth that can do damage, so understanding dog communication keeps you (and your kids) safe…

7 Tips How to Prepare Cats, Dogs, and People for Holiday Visits

How to Prepare Cats, Dogs, and People for Holiday Visits

Holiday celebrations include visiting family and friends. It also means keeping pets safe during the holidays. Since we consider cats and dogs part of the family, pet holiday visits require special preparations. Changes to routine can increase fear, anxiety, and stress in everyone, and especially our pets. Hitting the road also raises stress levels, so unless your pets adore car travel, prepare with advice in this article. Here are some tips for reducing the angst once you arrive, so that everyone enjoys family pet holiday visits.

How to Prepare If Pets Outlive You

We often lament the fact that dogs and cats don’t live as long as we do. But what about the reverse—what if your pets live longer than you do? Are there legal protections you can take in planning for when your pets outlive you? We loved them dearly while alive, and must also care for them when we’re gone with proper plans. And yes, it can happen totally out of the blue.

The unthinkable happens, even to animal professionals. Back in 2014, in the same week, our pet community felt rocked by the tragic and sudden deaths of two heroes, animal behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin and Cat Writers Association president Dr. Lorie Huston. Dr. Yin left behind her beloved dog Jonesy, while my friend Lorie left six special needs rescue cats. CWA members networked to re-home Lorie’s cats. More recently, the Cat Writers’ Association again lost a beloved leader when president Paula Gregg passed away suddenly. She had time to make plans for her beloved Persian cats, Truffle and Brulee.

None of these wonderful pet lovers expected to have their pets outlive them. Do you have plans for your special pets? Here are tips for planning for when your pets outlive you.

Old Pets? 7 Cheap DIY Help for Old Fogey Dogs & Cats

Like older pets, I also move a wee bit slower than in my youth. Shadow-Pup helps keep me active and young, as well as chasing and engaging the more mature Karma-Kat. Aging dogs and senior cats rock!

I’ll admit that senior pets have a special place in my heart, even if they suffer from senility. Maybe in part because I can more easily relate to them. Do you love old pets? Are you ready for some old dog and/or old cat love? Oh, here are 7 cheap DIY tips to help your old pets.

Counting Thanksgiving Blessings, the Pet Writer Way in 2022

Time for my annual Count My Blessings post. The past year has meant change, change, and more change, and that’s good and also challenging. But some things never change…I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog, my newspaper column, the cat book lovers, and the dog book lovers, and folks who have “adopted” my thriller series. And those who offered awesome applause and support any of the other venues mentioned…

8 Common Old Dog Health Conditions & What To Do

When November rolls around each year we take time to celebrate the many blessings we’ve enjoyed, including our old dogs. Pet people, of course, give thanks for their animal companions, and November traditionally is Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Do you share your life with an old fogey dog? Maybe your old girl dog leaks urine when lying down—is that common, and what can you do about it? My current doggy companion, Shadow-Pup, has reached teenager status. Bravo-Dawg lost his life to cancer before becoming a senior doggy. But his predecessor, Magic, still lives on in my heart. During his final years, we battled several old dog health conditions.

Celebrating Old Dogs: What Is Old?

Each November, we celebrate old dogs during their “official” month. But when is your dog considered old? We love our senior citizen dogs for the special joy they bring every day. But once a year, we celebrate old dogs during November Adopt A Senior Pet Month.

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance. Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months…

I’ve written about how to care for an elderly dog before, but this post addresses how to know when your canine friends become old dogs.

Celebrating Old Cats: What Is Old?

Every year, I write about our old cat needs. While Karma-Kat has just reached middle age, cats age at different rates. When do you consider your cat old? Is your old cat a senior kitty by age 8, or 13, or…when? For cats, what is old? Here’s how the experts define ‘old age’ in cats…

Sweet Pet Poison: Your Guide to Cat & Dog Antifreeze Poisoning

Pets often get into poisons by accidentally eating the wrong plant, or other dangerous toxins. With the pending change in the weather and when temperatures fall, cat and dog antifreeze poisoning becomes a danger.

You’ll find antifreeze in surprising places, not just in the garage. For instance, the liquid in snow globes can poison pets when the toy breaks. Not long ago, social media shared many stories of antifreeze poisoning cats from the liquid in broken snow globes. The liquid tastes sweet, so it’s very appealing for sweet-loving dogs to drink or lick up spills on the garage floor. Puppies are the worst, eating anything that doesn’t move faster than they do. Cats also are at risk when they walk through puddles and lick/groom the liquid off their body. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe–and maybe save their life!

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships