My family and I moved to Windermere, Florida from Oklahoma a few years ago, traveling south has meant adjustments not just concerning my family and me but our pets as well. We moved down here to get away from the harsh winter and enjoy year-round sun!

What we did not consider was the mosquito population and how extensive it is! Since it is warm down here all year round it is the perfect environment for mosquitoes to thrive. Which meant having my dog on monthly heartworm prevention was no question regardless of being indoors or outdoors. Mosquitoes breed and lay their eggs near and in water so if you are near a lake or pond, you’ll never be able to eliminate them totally. Though, you can discourage the bugs from setting up home in your garden by removing all sources of standing water.

Since mosquitoes spread heartworms, one mosquito bite is all it takes to infect a dog with this potentially fatal disease. With states with very cold winters and freezing temperatures, such as Oklahoma, the chance of there being a live mosquito is nearly impossible, it’s common for many veterinarians to give the okay for dogs to be off monthly prevention during the winter season. If you live in Florida, you know this isn’t realistic at all. Missing just one dose of heartworm prevention can open the door to your dog being infected. Treatment for heartworm infection is extensive and expensive. The cost of heartworm treatment far outweighs the cost of monthly heartworm prevention. Since mosquitoes are jokingly referred to as the state bird of Florida, it is recommended that dogs are tested once a year for heartworms, even if no monthly doses of prevention are missed. Better to be safe than sorry!

Another major concern in Florida due to the warm weather are fleas. Fleas can be a pest to not only your pet, but to us as well. Fleas can cause an allergic reaction to proteins in flea saliva, known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis. In Florida, many pets suffer from flea allergies. Some signs of fleas are rash, redness and scratching or biting hind legs, tail, or abdomen. Fleas are difficult to get rid of, and you must remove the source of the flea and implement a firm flea control regimen treating not only your pet but the environment you and your pet live in as well, including yards. Your pet can also contract tapeworms if they ingest a flea carrying a tapeworm. There are both oral and topical medications to help control fleas. There are also medications that include BOTH heartworm and flea prevention which can also include other types of de-wormers. Please contact us for more information about heartworm/flea medication and to discuss what is best for your pet.

For more information on heartworms you can visit the American Heartworm Society at www.heartwormsociety.org.

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