With Denver often experiencing a wide range of temperatures in a single day, parasites never stay in hibernation for long. Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are a real threat for your furry pal all year, which makes year-round parasite prevention essential for keeping your pet safe from disease. Our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team highlights the most important facts Denver pet owners need to know about heartworms, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. 

#1: Mosquitoes don’t take a winter break

You may think your pet is safe from parasites during the frigid winter months, but mosquitoes are incredibly opportunistic and can spring forth once the temperature rises above 35 degrees. Additionally, mosquitoes can easily slip through open doors to seek shelter in your home or garage, lurking in wait to feast on your pet and potentially transmit heartworms. Because these parasites are so hardy, year-round prevention is a must.

#2: Certain tick species transmit specific diseases

Numerous tick species in the United States can transmit a variety of diseases. If your tick-identification skills are well-honed, you can likely determine which diseases a tick can transmit through a single glance at the parasite. For example, spotting a blacklegged tick, or deer tick, may mean your pet has been exposed to Lyme disease or anaplasmosis. The American dog tick and brown dog tick are known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while the lone star tick transmits ehrlichiosis.

#3: Some parasitic diseases can take months to produce a positive test result

If a mosquito or tick bites your pet, testing the next day for parasitic diseases will not yield an accurate result. If a mosquito bites your pet, the immature heartworms can take six or seven months to reach adulthood and create a positive test result. Lyme disease can take two to five months before antibodies develop in your pet, so a test performed before that time frame can be a false-negative. However, these parasitic diseases can still be harming to your pet, despite testing negative in the early disease stages.

#4: Heartworms are not like other “worms”

Unlike intestinal worms, heartworms do not set up shop in your pet’s intestinal tract. Instead, they lurk in the blood vessels surrounding the heart and lungs, causing cardiovascular and respiratory illness. The most common heartworm disease signs in dogs include coughing and exercise intolerance, whereas cats can develop asthma-like signs, and sometimes die suddenly. 

#5: Ticks can transmit disease only after attaching to your pet for a specific time

While mosquitoes promptly release immature heartworms when they bite your pet, ticks must remain attached to transmit disease. For example, blacklegged ticks must stay attached for about 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease, which means you should always check yourself and your pet for ticks after coming in from outdoors, to prevent transmission.

#6: Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis infections can appear similar in pets

Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis are two tick-borne diseases that are a mouthful to pronounce, and the similarities don’t stop there. These diseases can cause similar illness in pets, with the following signs:

  • Lameness and joint pain
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Fever
  • Abnormal bruising and bleeding

Ehrlichiosis can also cause chronic eye inflammation and neurologic abnormalities, whereas anaplasmosis can lead to coughing, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea. Lyme disease can also cause lameness, especially the type that shifts from leg to leg, but does not create bruising and bleeding issues. 

#7: Parasitic diseases can require lengthy treatment

If your pet develops heartworm disease or a tick-borne illness, treatment can take months before the disease is cured. Most tick-borne illnesses require a 30-day antibiotics course, although future flare-ups can occur, necessitating additional treatment. Heartworm disease requires an injection series to kill off the adult heartworms, with the injections spaced 30 days apart to minimize adverse reactions. During the entire treatment course, the dog must be kept exercise-restricted, so they may need to be kenneled for up to eight weeks. Unfortunately, no heartworm treatment exists for cats.

#8: Pet parasite prevention can be shipped to you every month

Does your pet occasionally receive their parasite preventive a few days late because you’ve forgotten to pick up their next dose? You do not need to make a special trip to our hospital to pick up parasite preventive each month if you don’t purchase a yearly supply. Instead, use our online pharmacy to ensure your pet’s prevention product arrives on time each month by setting up our autoship option. With our online pharmacy, you can ensure you no longer have to worry about leaving work on time to pick up your pet’s preventive.

Protecting your furry pal from parasitic diseases is much easier than treating them. Keep your pet safe with year-round parasite prevention that is simple to administer, whether in topical or oral form. Contact our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team for advice on the best prevention options for your four-legged friend.