dog receiving flea and tick treatment.

When it comes to your pet’s health, prevention is key. Immunizations help prevent nasty diseases like rabies and parvovirus. Microchipping helps you and Fido reunite after an accidental separation. And flea, heartworm, and tick preventives keep your pets from having to deal with destructive pests. In this blog, the team at the At Home Pet Doctor shares how flea, tick, and heartworm preventives can save your pet’s life. 

Flea, Heartworm, and Tick Preventives 101 

Fleas, ticks, and heartworm are all pests for different reasons. Fleas can infect your pets with tapeworms and cat scratch disease. Ticks can transmit harmful conditions like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. 

And mosquitos can take the heartworms in an infected canid—think unmedicated dogs, wolves, coyotes, or foxes—and plant their larvae in your dog. Heartworm is a devastating disease that can cause lasting damage or even death. 

With flea, heartworm, and tick preventives, you can save heartache, money, and time spent worrying about summer pet pests. 

How Does Flea and Tick Preventives Work? 

Flea and tick preventives are usually bundled into one product. They work by killing adult fleas, along with their larvae and pupae. The same medication often also repels or kills ticks. There are three types of flea and tick medications:

  • Topical: When applied to your pet’s skin in between her shoulder blades, the medication enters her oil glands and spreads throughout her whole body. The medication kills fleas and helps stop larvae from maturing. Topical preventives must be applied once a month.
  • Oral: This type of flea preventive is given to your dog to ingest. Instead of killing fleas upon contact, it kills them once they bite your pet. Oral preventives must be given once a month.
  • Collar: A handy option for those of us who struggle to remember a monthly dose of meds for our pets, flea and tick collars kill and repel fleas for up to 8 months. 

Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best type of flea and tick prevention for your pet and your household. For example, some preventives are safe for dogs but not for cats, so it’s important to tell your vet if you have cats in the home. Read the label carefully and follow the instructions when applying any type of flea prevention. 

How Do Heartworm Preventives Work?

Heartworm preventives work by killing heartworm larvae before they can turn into adult heartworms. However, preventives cannot kill adult heartworms. These pests mature in about 50 days, which means that puppies should be started on preventives as soon as the medication allows—typically at around 6 to 7 weeks old. 

If you need to get your pet started on heartworm preventives and he’s older than 8 weeks, a heartworm test may be required. This ensures that there aren’t any adult heartworms in your pet’s body before you begin preventive treatment. 

Heartworm preventives come in three forms: 

  • Oral: The preventive medication is given to your pet once a month throughout the year.
  • Topical: As with flea and tick medication, the topical solution is applied every month, all year long.
  • Injectable: Your veterinarian administers a shot every 6 to 12 months, depending on the preventive.

If you need help navigating the world of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, reach out to our caring team. We can get your pet on the preventives she needs to stay safe from fleas, ticks, and heartworm-carrying mosquitos all year long.