Unpredictable Weather Equals Year-Round Fleas, Ticks and Heartworms

With our unpredictable weather, flea and tick season is no longer easy to define. We are now seeing ticks and fleas all year-round, although there are still times during the year that the fleas and ticks are greater in numbers.  One flea can lay 30-50 eggs per day, leading to rapid infestation of the environment.  It’s easier to prevent fleas than get rid of them, so make sure that ALL of the pets in the environment are being treated with an effective flea product. Ticks are harder to prevent, since they reproduce outdoors and they complete their life cycle slower than fleas do. Fortunately, there are excellent products available to kill adult ticks on your pet. But remember it only takes one flea or tick to cause problems ranging from hot spots to serious disease transmission. Please be sure to protect your pets year-round to break the flea and tick life cycle. Missing one month of prevention can allow infestation to occur.

Prevention for Dogs

We strongly recommend monthly heartworm preventatives year-round, and fortunately both of the heartworm preventatives that we carry for dogs, Sentinel and Trifexis, also help with flea control.  

Our main recommendation at the Animal Hospital of North Asheville is the use of Sentinel, a monthly chewable tablet, paired with another monthly chewable tablet, Nexgard for full coverage of heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, sterilization of flea eggs and the ability to kill adult fleas. If your dog has a risk for seizures, consult your veterinarian for a recommendation of the best combination of flea, tick and heartworm prevention.

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

Sentinel prevents heartworms, the three major intestinal parasites (hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms), and stops flea reproduction. We recommend using an additional chewable tablet to aid in the killing adult fleas and ticks.

Trifexis prevents heartworms, the three major intestinal parasites (hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms) and kills adult fleas. Trifexis is the most effective against adult fleas.  Trifexis kills adult fleas so quickly that they cannot reproduce, and will do a great job of flea control as a standalone product.  It does not protect against ticks!

If your dog has been off heartworm prevention for more than a month, they will need to have a negative heartworm test before they can resume heartworm prevention. Give us a call at Animal Hospital of North Asheville to schedule an appointment to have this simple blood test done.

Tick Prevention in Dogs

Since neither Sentinel nor Trifexis stops ticks, you will need to add one of the following to your monthly heartworm preventative.  While we see an increased burden of ticks in our area as the weather warms up in March and continues into fall, we are seeing ticks attached and engorged even in the middle of winter during times of cold temperatures and snow. We now have a year-round flea and tick season. Environments such as wooded areas, mulch, and tall grasses provide a much greater exposure to ticks than others.

Chewable tick preventions do not repel ticks. Once the tick bites, the prevention kills the tick before a blood meal can be taken and diseases can be transmitted. You may find dead ticks attached to your pet but they should not be engorged.

NexGard is a monthly, beef-flavored chewable that stops both adult fleas and ticks.

Bravecto is a beef-flavored chewable that kills fleas and several species of ticks (black-legged tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick) for 12 weeks, and also kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks.

It is best to give your dog their heartworm tablet and flea and tick chewable medications on separate days with food. Giving preventative pills with a meal will enhance their effectiveness.

Your veterinarian will help you decide which heartworm, flea and tick preventions are recommended for your pet based on their seizure risk and health history.

Don’t Forget Your Furry Feline Friends

Flea Prevention for Cats

Revolution is a topical product that consists of a few drops on the skin at the base of the neck. It prevents heartworms, hookworms and roundworms, ear mites, and also does an excellent job of preventing fleas in cats. We recommend monthly application of Revolution for all cats, even those who do not go outdoors, for heartworm prevention. Because cats are excellent at grooming themselves, you may not see live fleas on your cat.  But indoor/outdoor cats are common carriers of fleas and flea eggs into a household, and even indoor cats can become a source of re-infestation. One sign that your cat has fleas is the presence of "flea dirt," which is actually flea feces. It looks like pepper, and it can be found against your cat's skin or in areas where your cat sleeps or grooms frequently.

Cheristin is a monthly topical flea prevention for cats. When placed at the base of the neck, it starts to kill adult fleas within 20 minutes. This product only kills adult fleas and DOES NOT offer heartworm or intestinal parasite prevention.

According to the company. Cheristin and Revolution can be used in the same month. Be sure to let the area where the product was applied fully dry. We recommend applying Cheristin and Revolution on different days.

Tick Prevention in Cats

Ticks generally are not as common a problem in cats, but if your cat does get ticks, we carry Frontline for cats for tick control. Frontline Tritak or any other product containing permethrin CANNOT BE USED IN CATS, only dogs!

Let’s Learn more about Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms

Click here for more information from the American Heartworm Society    
Click here to learn more about ticks and the diseases they can pose to people and pets.
Click here to learn more about fleas and how they can affect pets and humans: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
ASPCA Guide to Fleas and Ticks

Helpful Tip:

Need help remembering when to give your pet their heartworm, flea or tick medications? You can set up email alerts through your Animal Hospital of North Asheville Pet Portal under “Tools."