Lucerne Veterinary Hospital Blog

Fight the Flea – How to Treat and Prevent Flea Infestations in Your Home

16 week old Golden Retriever puppy scratching fleas with leg in motion on a white background "Missy"

Equipped with mouthparts enabling them to ingest up to 15 times their own weight in blood, and able to jump 200 times their body length, those tiny brown insects you see scurrying about in the fur of your dogs and cats have long been a scourge of humans and domestic animals, with one species having caused the death of over 200 million people during the 14th century bubonic plague pandemic.

Fleas can carry diseases and bring about a great deal of misery for you and your pets. Fortunately, they don’t have to be a nuisance in your household. There are safe and easy measures that you can take to treat and prevent flea infestations in your home.  Continue…

The Trouble with Ticks

Ticks in the woods

You are lying on the couch with your dog, relaxing after a long hike, when you notice him scratching furiously at his hindend. You part the fur in time to see a tiny brown insect dart across the surface of the skin. As you continue to run your hands through his fur, you feel a small lump that has seemingly appeared overnight. A closer look confirms your suspicions- a plump tick is firmly attached, contentedly feeding on your dog’s blood.

Especially as the frost of winter subsides, close encounters with fleas and ticks are becoming more and more of a common occurrence. Aside from being a nuisance, ticks carry very real risks of disease and death from the microbes they harbor. Fortunately, there are products that you can use to help keep fleas and ticks out of your home.

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Heartworm: A Growing Concern in Maine

Heartworm Spring

As the weather warms and the landscape becomes green, we are drawn to the outdoors, our four-legged companions eagerly in tow. As our dogs bound through the newly defrosted woods however, they become susceptible to the perils of the microscopic. Potentially fatal diseases lurk within the mosquitoes and ticks seeking to harvest your pet’s blood.

With the spring finally upon us, it is important to review the ways in which we can safely and effectively protect our pets against heartworm disease, tick-borne disease, and flea infestation. It is critical to note that although biting arthropods are more prevalent in the warmer months, these disease organisms remain a threat year-round. In this first part of our series, we will discuss heartworm disease.

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Heartworm Prevention: Protecting Your Dog, Year Round

Lucerne_iStock_000003834718_LargeFebruary may seem like a strange time to discuss heartworms. After all, we tend to associate mosquitoes – which carry the disease – with warm weather and lakeside fun; and let’s face it, it’s not exactly lakeside fun season. However, heartworm can be a threat to your pet year-round, due to the disease’s six-month incubation period.

Heartworm occurs in animals in every state – and, despite popular opinion, can be found in indoor-only pets, too (mosquitoes get into the house, right?). Even here in Maine, where heartworm isn’t nearly the problem that it is in the Southern states, pet owners should remain vigilant to the threat of the disease, as animals already infected with the disease are commonly found visiting our state, either as tourists with their families, or in the population of rescue animals transported across state lines for adoption. Likewise, wild animals, like coyotes and foxes, can also carry heartworm and serve as a reservoir for the disease, as well.

Also, it was recently confirmed that there exists a resistant strain of Heartworm – so far it has only been documented in the Mississippi Delta area, but this strain is resistant to all the preventives currently on the market. One thing that may have promoted this resistance is having dogs on sporadic or insufficient prevention, and one way we can try to slow the spread of this resistance is to keep as many dogs as possible on regular heartworm prevention, year-round. Continue…

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