We know how much you care for your furbaby’s happiness, and that includes making sure they feel their best every day. One of the best ways you can ensure your pets are as healthy as possible is to prevent them from getting parasites.
Parasites not only cause your pet problems but many can also be transmitted to your family causing the same feeling of ill health and discomfort that your pet is going through. These tiny invaders are nothing to mess around with and should be dealt with right away for the safety of the whole family.
Although it can happen to anyone’s pet, there are many methods available to prevent parasite infestation. We’re here to help you identify when parasites are a problem in your pet, how to prevent them, and how to get your pet feeling well again.
Types of Parasites
Knowing what kind of parasites your pet is susceptible to can be very helpful in choosing the right preventative measures. Parasites can live on the skin or internally in the intestinal tract and steal essential nutrients from their bodies that can negatively affect their health and well-being.
Here are the different kinds of parasites that you should be aware of:
This dangerous parasitic worm is contracted through mosquito bites and infects cats as well as dogs. Pets that have contracted heartworms can be treated, but the best course of action is preventing heartworm infection from occurring.
Ticks are another common parasite found on your precious fur babies. You will most often find these parasites during the warmer months of the year when it is humid.
Ticks can transmit many diseases to your pet including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Hepatozoonosis, Babesiosis, and Bartonellosis.
These awful parasites can also cause havoc in you and your kids and are not restricted to just causing problems in your fur babies. Ticks can make you and your pet very sick.
It is very important to check your pets on a regular basis to ensure are no ticks present, especially if they are outside for extended periods of time.
Ticks can attach themselves anywhere on your pet’s body but usually go for warmer places such as under their arms, the belly and groin area, and inside the ears. There are several options available that will protect your pet from getting ticks.
Many different types of intestinal worms can infect dogs and cats. If your pet is not treated right away, intestinal worms can also affect you and your family, especially children.
Intestinal worms include whipworms (which only infects dogs), tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Your four-legged friend will need to be dewormed regularly (every three to six months) to prevent intestinal worm infestation.
Fleas are some of the most bothersome parasites your pet can get, with infestations increasing during the summer months in the hot and humid states, and during the fall and winter in the northern states, with the wild and feral animals moving closer to populated areas due to lack of food.
These annoying parasites can cause any pet a lot of misery when they bite. They are are not picky and will go after you and the kids as well, jumping off the pet and onto you, the kids, or your guests and leaving itchy, uncomfortable bites.
Once your pet gets fleas, it may feel like you will never get those pesky parasites to go away, but there are preventative measures you can take before the problems start, that will help ensure a flea-free pet and home.
Skin and Ear Mites
If you see your fur baby scratching their ears or shaking their head more than a normal amount, they may have skin or ear mites. These annoying mites can live on the surface of your pet’s skin or down in the ear canal, causing a lot of irritation that will make your pet feel miserable.
This parasite is very common in puppies and hunting dogs and can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms including watery diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, and vomiting which can quickly lead to your fur baby getting dehydrated.
This stubborn parasite is contracted by the pet swallowing infected feces and soil contaminated with feces. This is a parasite that pets can pass on to you and your kids so it is extremely important to ensure quick action to treat and get rid of this bothersome parasite.
Giardia is an intestinal parasite that your pet can get from drinking water that has been contaminated by feces or by eating grass with feces in it. This is another parasite that you and your family can contract.
Symptoms in both pets and people include stomach discomfort, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea. Giardia is typically treated with a dewormer or an antibiotic and sometimes a combination of the two.
Symptoms of Parasites
There are several signs you can watch for when checking your pets for parasites. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- pale gums caused by blood loss
- poor appetite
- diarrhea or vomiting
- evidence of worms, or white specks, in their feces
- weight loss
- excessive scratching and gnawing at the skin.
If you notice your pet exhibiting any of these symptoms, contact us to perform an exam to determine what parasites are responsible and we will help you remedy the situation.
Keep in mind that some pets may not show any outward signs of parasitic infestation. Regular screenings will help you stay abreast of your pet’s health and catch anything they may have early on.
How Pets Get Infected by Parasites
You may wonder how your pet contracted parasites. Regardless of where your pet spends most of its time or how clean it is, they can contract parasites through various situations:
- going for walks in the woods or community parks
- playing at the dog park around other dogs that may be infected
- drinking contaminated water
- getting bitten by mosquitos (heartworm specific)
- contact with other animals or their feces that have parasites
- newborn kittens or puppies in close contact with a mom who may be infected
- odor from the ears (ear mite specific)
Preventative Measures to Protect Against Parasites
It is important to note that parasites can infect even the cleanest, healthiest pets, so don’t feel like you have done something wrong if you find your pet has parasites. We are here to help get your cherished family member back to being parasite-free and feeling great.
Here are some prevention methods that we offer:
- Heartworm Prevention- Before your pet starts a heartworm preventative, we will perform a simple test to make sure they don’t have them. We start most pets on heartworm preventative between 6 and 8 weeks depending on the type of treatment chosen. Preventative is available in chewable tablets, and topical liquids that typically last for 30 days. We also offer ProHeart, a preventative injectable, that can provide up to one year of protection.
- Flea and Tick Prevention- We have flea collars, topical spot treatments, and chewable tablets available to battle these annoying parasites. You can also schedule a flea bath treatment in our office.
- Intestinal Worm Prevention- Once we test to see what kinds of worms your pet has, we will provide the right worming treatment that will get your pet feeling great again and schedule them for ongoing treatments to make sure the worms don’t come back. Most heartworm preventatives also treat many of these problematic worms and provide ongoing protection throughout the year making it very convenient to protect your pet from many different worms all with one product.
- Ear and Skin Mite Prevention – Once your pet is diagnosed, topical medicine is available that will destroy all the ear mites. We will give you drops, creams, or ointment so you can complete the rest of your pet’s treatment at home. If your pet has open sores and cats from scratching, they may get an antibiotic, too.
Parasite preventative treatment starts when your puppy or kitten is around two weeks old, however, some treatments are only safe for young pets from eight weeks old. Protecting your pet against parasites should be a constant health practice.
As your veterinarian, we will provide you with an effective parasite prevention schedule that will prevent these pesky parasites from affecting your pet’s or your family’s health.
Schedule Your Pet’s Wellness Exam Today
Every pet can get parasites, but the good news is that these pesky parasites are treatable and preventable! We can help you treat any problems going on and make sure that your pet is back to its normal, happy self in no time.
Contact us to schedule a wellness exam to discuss parasite prevention options.