The idea of your pet being infested with parasites is a disturbing thought, but it’s also a medical issue that can have serious consequences. Parasites can diminish the quality of life and even cause life-threatening health issues.
Common internal parasites include heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. The most frequent external parasites include fleas and ticks. Your pet should be free from parasites, both internal and external.
Why are parasites dangerous?
- Fleas: Fleas are small, wingless, brown, fast-moving insects you can see in your pet’s fur. Some animals are allergic to the saliva of fleas, which can cause inflammation and more discomfort. If ingested while your pet is grooming themselves, fleas can transmit an intestinal parasite called tapeworm. Flea infestations can lead to anemia and fleas are also capable of transmitting serious diseases.
- Ticks: Ticks are members of the spider family and live in cracks and crevices in the home or outside in vegetation such as grassy meadows, woods, brush, and weeds. Some tick bites only cause mild irritation or swelling at the site, but other tick bites can infect your pet with serious illnesses such as Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Note: If you see a tick and cannot remove it, we will gladly help you. It’s much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you.
- Heartworm Disease: Heartworms are transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your pet. Heartworms are parasites that live in the heart and its surrounding blood vessels. The adult heartworm produces offspring called microfilariae, which circulate in the pet’s blood. Unrecognized and untreated heartworm infections can be fatal.
When should I seek treatment for parasites?
- Fleas: If your pet is showing signs of fleas such as continuous scratching, gnawing, or licking, bring your pet in for Additionally, flea dirt, the byproduct of fleas that looks like coffee grounds or pepper, can usually be seen by looking at your pet’s abdomen or by combing your pet’s coat with a fine-tooth comb.
- Ticks: If you see a tick on your pet, do not try to remove it. It is much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you.
- Heartworm Disease: The best treatment for heartworms is prevention. One of the most common and effective prevention methods is a monthly oral medication. We also have injectable prevention that can be given every 6 months or every 12 months.
The parasite is transmitted through mosquito bites and usually, the pet shows no signs for months. Later symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, tiring easily, and listlessness. In many cases, pets do not show outward signs until the advanced stages of the disease. An annual blood test is recommended to screen for heartworms. This disease can be treated if found early, but it can be costly.
How can I prevent parasites?
Our veterinary team is happy to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pet’s risk factors and health status. It is important to discuss with us yearly which pest control products are ideal for your household based on the everyday life of your pet.
If you have any questions regarding parasite prevention for your pets, please ask one of our veterinarians or staff members, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.