RVing with Dogs – Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention While Traveling

When traveling with dogs you end up in places you’re not always familiar with. While living in Las Vegas we didn’t have to worry much about fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes so the need for preventative measures wasn’t needed. But now that we’re traveling, our dogs are on flea/tick and heartworm medications to keep them safe from these parasites and the diseases they carry.

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The Risk of Heartworm Disease is Real

Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states. Just one bite from an infected mosquito could put your pet at risk for heartworm disease, a serious condition that can cause heart failure, permanent damage to your pet’s lungs, and even death. The risk is real. Treating heartworm disease is costly and complicated. But prevention is simple. That’s why vets recommend using monthly heartworm disease prevention all year long.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body.

Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, heartworm prevention for dogs is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Three Tips for Preventing Heartworm Disease

  1. Reduce Mosquito Exposure: Avoid bites to reduce risk. Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed, avoid known mosquito habitats, and limit outdoor exposure during peak mosquito feeding times (dawn and dusk).
  2. Use Preventive Medicine Year-Round: Monthly administration of a preventive safely and effectively prevents heartworm disease by eliminating heartworm larvae before they can grow into dangerous adult heartworms.
  3. Get Your Dog Tested Every Year: Before getting a prescription for a heartworm disease preventive, your dog must be tested for heartworms. Talk to your vet about testing options.

Heartworm Disease Prevention

Our veterinarian recommended Heartgard Plus for Sierra and Ruby. With more than 2 billion doses prescribed, Heartgard Plus is the #1 choice of vets for both their patients and their own dogs. Heartgard Plus Chewables contain ivermectin, a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic medication used to prevent heartworms. They also contain Pyrantel Pamoate, an anthelminthic, used to prevent roundworms and hookworms.

Dogs love the only real-beef chew, making monthly dosing easy and delicious. Studies show that more dogs choose it over any other oral heartworm disease prevention. Sierra and Ruby take their monthly Heartgard Treat with no issues.

Hookworms and Roundworms Are Unexpected Threats

Your dog can get hookworms and roundworms by stepping in contaminated soil at the park or ingesting them in your own backyard. Hookworms and roundworms can be dangerous and potentially invisible threats to your dog. They can live in a dog’s intestines and cause a number of complications.

Heartgard Plus doesn’t just prevent heartworm disease for dogs 6 weeks of age and older, it also treats and controls hookworms and roundworms.

Flea and Tick Prevention

Flea and tick prevention consists of a variety of products used to control flea and/or tick infestations on your pet and to prevent infestations inside your home. Fleas are small insects that are parasitic; they feed on blood from animals and/or people. Ticks are a type of arachnid (like spiders, scorpions, and mites) that are also parasitic.

Fleas and ticks can be found worldwide. Fleas can live in many climate zones, but they prefer humid and shady areas, such as under a leaf. They have the incredible jumping ability and can easily jump onto you or your pet as you walk by.

Ticks can also live in many climate zones and prefer humid and shady environments, especially areas with woods, shrubs, weeds, and tall grasses. Ticks cannot jump like fleas but will grab you or your pet as you walk by via a behavior called questing.

Why is flea and tick prevention important?

Fleas and ticks can cause two specific problems. One, they can cause discomfort and skin irritation through their bites, and in some cases can cause severe allergic reactions in both pets and people. Two, they both can carry diseases and can cause illness both in pets and people. Some of these diseases can be deadly and others can cause severe, chronic, and lifelong illnesses. Prevention is key to avoiding these problems.

Prevention is also important because both fleas and ticks can infest the home. Because they have different life cycles treating an infestation is much more difficult (and costly) than preventing an infestation.

What kinds of illnesses can fleas and/or ticks cause?

Fleas and ticks can transmit many infectious diseases when they take a blood meal from either pets or people. The most common flea in North America can transmit murine typhus, flea-borne spotted fever, cat-scratch disease (bartonellosis), and flea tapeworms. Other flea species can transmit salmonellosis, plague, rodent tapeworm, murine trypanosomiasis, and dwarf tapeworm. Fleas in general can transmit hemoplasmosis and tularemia.

Each tick species is known to transmit specific infectious diseases, including but not limited to the following: Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, rickettsiosis, tularemia, cytauxzoonosis, and hepatozoonosis.

What are the different kinds of flea and tick prevention?

There are many products on the market. Some are over-the-counter and some are prescription. Some are stand-alone products and some are in combination with other treatments/medications. Some are applied to the skin, some are worn as a collar, and some are given by mouth (orally). Some are given daily, some are given monthly, and some can last for several months. Depending on your lifestyle, your pet’s lifestyle, and your needs and preferences, your veterinarian will help you choose a product that works best for you and your pet.

Our veterinarian recommended Bravecto. Bravecto is the only flea and tick treatment that lasts 12 weeks with 1 convenient chew or topical dose. Compared to any monthly treatment, your pet is protected nearly 3 times longer with Bravecto.

Bravecto Chew and Bravecto Topical Solution for Dogs kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks so if you live or travel to somewhere with lone star ticks you would need to give Bravecto every 8 weeks instead of 12 weeks.

The long-lasting protection of Bravecto effectively eliminates flea infestations on pets with just 1 dose. Plus, Bravecto kills ticks faster-killing 100% of attached ticks in 12 hours. Other treatments can take over 48 hours.


When traveling with dogs you definitely need to have prevention for fleas, ticks, and heartworm. We choose to simplify things by using Bravecto and Heartgard. We give our dogs Heartgard every month and Bravecto every 8-12 weeks depending on where we are in the country and if they have lone start tics or not.

Our dogs Sierra and Ruby eagerly take these treatments like medications. Both of these medications are prescriptions so a vet visit is needed to get them. With our traveling, we purchase ours through Chewy.com and have the prescription sent to our present location.

Thank you for reading our article. Do you have a specific flea/tick or heartworm treatment that you use? We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions below.

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