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Information about Flea's & Heartworm

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...FLEAS!!! now is the time to start protecting your Maltese from another summer of biting, scratching, tapeworms, and general misery. We first need to know a little about fleas and how they multiply. The flea has 4 stages in its life cycle: Adult-Egg-Larva-Pupa. The adult flea jumps on the pet, takes a blood meal and then lays eggs on the pet. As the eggs dry, they fall off wherever the pet happens to be, hatch into larva, develop into pupa and new adult fleas. An infestation can occur very quickly with the introduction of 1 or 2 fleas.

Traditional flea control programs focus on killing the adult fleas.
Compare the major flea & tick control products

Treat your Maltese first

Today's flea-control products are so effective, it's often unnecessary to go beyond this first step. Try treating your Maltese first, then your house, saving outdoor flea treatments as a last resort. Here are the pros and cons of some common first-step treatments:

Flea comb

A surprisingly effective tool. Frequent use pulls adult fleas away from pet fur. Crush the fleas with your fingernails or swish the comb through soapy water.

Flea collar

I don't believe in flea collars. In my opinion they do more harm than good.


A natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemums. It's nontoxic, and is one of the only product that's supposed to be safe to use on puppies and kittens. Pyrethrin is usually sold in a shampoo base and must remain in contact with fleas for several minutes in order to work.

Flea baths

In general, they're good for cleaning your Maltese, and they're a safe flea-control option for young animals. But since the insecticide only works while in contact with the fleas, there won't be a residual insecticide effect — so flea baths alone aren't a good line of defense against fleas on an adult Maltese.

Sprays, powders, dips

They can be effective, but expose people to high levels of insecticide.

Oral medication

Program, one of the most popular flea treatments, is often referred to as the birth-control pill for fleas. Made by Novartis, it causes fleas to lay defective eggs, which never hatch. It's oral, has no side effects and has been on the market for about five years.

Single application topical insecticides

Advantage (by Bayer) and Top Spot (from Frontline) are two that are commonly combined with The Program. These are pre-measured by your vet based on your pet's weight, and applied to the back of the animal's neck (where it can't be licked off). The drops spread across skin and work for one to three months, killing fleas on contact.


Mosquitoes Attack Dog - Carry Deadly Disease! This could be the headline and it would be true, more so now in Western Pennsylvania than ever before, as Heartworm Disease is spreading through our state. Heartworm is a parasite that uses mosquitoes and dogs as its primary hosts. Adult heartworms live in the heart and lungs of the dog and produce microfilaria (immature heartworms) which circulate throughout the body in the blood stream.

When an infected dog is bitten by a mosquito, the microfilaria are ingested into the mosquito where they undergo several changes and become infective larvae which are injected into the next dog that the mosquito bites. Heartworm is not a quick killer of dogs, but rather takes its toll in long-term damage to the heart and lungs by the adult worms, and microscopic damage to the internal organs by the circulating microfilaria. Impaired liver and kidney function is common in dogs infected with heartworm.

A simple, 10 minute test done on a very small blood sample from your dog can tell if he/she is currently infected. If the test is negative your dog can be started on monthly preventative medication. This medication will kill the larva during the first 30 days of their development in the dog, which is why the monthly dose is effective.

In our area (Pennsylvania), because of the harsh winters, we usually give preventative medication for 9 months, from March to December. A yearly negative test is required before restarting on the medication. This is to protect your dog from reactions if, by some chance, they have acquired an infection even though we gave them (we thought, or did they go outside and vomit it up?) their preventative on time (or was it the 3rd Tuesday of the month?). After all, we are only human, and they are depending on us.

If your Maltese does test positive for Heartworm, it can be treated, usually successfully, without severe problems. It can be an expensive disease to treat (easily $200-500), and some dogs may have very severe reaction to the disease and/or treatment. Heartworm can be fatal. All in all, this is one disease that it is far better to prevent than treat. Yearly costs will average $15 for the test and $15-45 for a season of preventative medication, depending on the size of your Maltese.