Keeping Small Pets Heartworm and Tickborne Illness Free

The best way to avoid heartworm and tickborne illnesses in your pets is to start a parasite control treatment. When you see your cat or dog vet in Cannon Falls, MN, they will assess your pet’s parasite risks and discuss controlling them. It’s a good idea to stay current on these treatments, since you otherwise risk exposing your pets to further illnesses. Here is an overview of heartworm and tickborne diseases and how to prevent them.

Illnesses from ticks and heartworms

If your pet spends time outside, you need to watch out for ticks. Ticks live in low-lying vegetation and grab people and pets as they walk through it. Outdoor pets are more prone to ticks; however, if you have multiple animals, like a dog who goes outside and an indoor cat, your indoor animals can still face tick exposure.

Common tickborne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tick paralysis. There are other infections unique to cats and dogs, but these illnesses present with similar symptoms. Vomiting, full or partial paralysis, high fever and appetite changes can be signs of tickborne infection.

Dogs and cats catch heartworms from mosquito bites. The mosquito injects the larvae of heartworms into your pet when they bite. The larvae lodge in the lungs, heart and surrounding blood vessels and reproduce. Adult worms grow as long as 12 inches and live up to seven years. Dogs can host as many as 250 worms in their system.

Cats are more resistant to heartworms, but they are not immune. Symptoms are the same for both species: cough, lethargy and reduced tolerance for exercise. Vets check for heartworm presence by listening for abnormal lung sounds. Unless you exterminate heartworms, most dogs and cats die from the infection.


All dogs and cats should be on parasite control products. Sentinel is an excellent product for preventing your dog from catching heartworms. Advantage Flea and Tick works well for both cats and dogs when repelling ticks and fleas. If your cat presents heartworm risk factors, your vet will offer different treatments to keep her safe.

If your dog requires heartworm treatment, it will take more effort than staying current on heartworm prevention. Your vet injects one of three drug options for heartworms, and once treated, your dog must avoid excitement or strenuous exercise. As heartworms die, they can block pulmonary vessels and cause heart attacks if dogs are overly active. However, if you keep them quiet, these blockages work themselves out slowly without causing extra trauma to your dog’s cardiac system.

For ticks, use Advantage and watch your pets for unusual wounds, especially if they’ve been out in the wilderness. Finding ticks early and removing them can prevent bites and possible illness.

Cannon Veterinary Services Ltd. is a dog and cat vet in Cannon Falls, MN. We offer preventative health care services for your small pets, including vaccinations and parasite control. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment and start controlling fleas, ticks and heartworms.