Prevention an important part of pet health

Yearly vaccinations protect your pet from potentially fatal or crippling diseaseas.

But in addition to yearly exams and vaccinations there are important preventions that should be done on a monthly basis: prevention of heartworms and fleas.

A simple mosquito is the carrier of heartworms, and even inside your home, a mosquito bite can infect your dog or cat.

Monthly medication to prevent heartworms eradicates the mosquito’s blood deposit of the disease. Heartworm disease causes damage to the heart, eventually clogging one side of the heart with adult worms and leading to death from heart disease.

Fleas cause blood diseases, leaving your pet weak, anemic, and, in some cases, with a compromised immune system.

Flea waste is the perfect breeding ground for tapeworms.

The tapeworm larva are ingested when a pet licks or bites its coat. Voila! They now have tapeworms that cause stomach or intestinal problems.

In our area during flea season (warm spring, summer and warm fall), fleas can be epidemic and may require flea prevention every two to three weeks, instead of every four.

Dogs that are positive for heartworms can be treated, but treatment is a very expensive procedure done with a toxic substance that is extremely hard on the pet’s system.

It’s best to prevent the illness, rather than be forced to treat it. (There is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats, except open-heart surgery.)

Today there are multiple topical products that prevent fleas (Advantage, Advantix and Frontline), some also prevent heartworms and fleas (Trifexis, Advantage Multi, Revolution and the new PetArmor),while some products prevent only heartworms, like Heartgard, which also halts roundworms, whipworms and hookworms.

Effective products are available from your veterinarian. Discuss with your vet which effective product or combination of products is recommended for your pet.

Orleans Parish Vaccination Event: From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 2, the LA/SPCA provides free microchips, vaccinations, rabies tags and collars to owned dogs of residents of the 70117 ZIP code. All other residents of Orleans Parish may receive services for $20. Call (504) 368.5191 or go to http://www.la-spca.org/70117 for location details.

Charlotte Bass Lilly is CEO of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish. Contact ARNO at arno.advocate@gmail.com, visit on Facebook, at their website, http://www.animalrescueneworleans.org, or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.