Parasites can find your pet through their food, insect bites, or hitching a ride when your pet is outside. They live on an animal’s skin or internally in the intestinal tract and steal essential nutrients from their bodies that can negatively affect their health. Although a parasite infestation can happen to anyone’s pet, there are many methods available to prevent them.
Here are the different kinds of parasites that you should be aware of:
- Heartworms. This dangerous parasitic worm is contracted through mosquito bites and infects cats as well as dogs. Dogs that have contracted heartworms can be treated, but the best course of action is preventing heartworm infection from occurring.
- Ticks. You will most often find these parasites during the warmer months of the year when it is humid. A bad tick infestation can make your pet feel lethargic and uncoordinated, so it is very important to ensure they are properly removed, right away.
- Intestinal Parasites. These can also affect you and your family, especially children. Intestinal parasites commonly include whipworms (which only infects dogs), tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and less commonly coccidia, and giardia Your pet will need to be dewormed regularly, as a puppy or kitten (every three to six months) to prevent intestinal worm infestation. We recommend testing your a fecal sample at least two times during your pet’s first year, and annually after that. If you are giving a monthly heartworm preventive, it will more than likely offer some kind of deworming for the four most common intestinal parasites.
- Fleas. These tiny insects are worst during the summer months and can cause any pet a lot of misery when they bite. Fleas are not picky and will go after humans as well, jumping off the pet and onto you, the kids, or your guests. Fleas are hard to get rid of, but there are preventative measures you can take before the warmer temperatures hit that will help ensure a flea-free and happy pet.
- Skin and 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.
There are several signs you can watch for when checking your pets for parasites. Some of the most common symptoms of a parasite infestation 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 your pet shows any of these symptoms, schedule an exam to determine what parasites are responsible and how to 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:
- in the woods or community parks
- drinking contaminated water
- mosquito bite (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
Preventative Measures to Protect Against Parasites
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. Treatment is available in chewable tablets, and topical liquids that typically last for 30 days. For dogs, we also offer a shot that needs to be given once a year! We recommend that all dogs and cats be on preventive year-round. When you are in for your visit, ask us what would be the best fit for the pets in your home.
- Flea and Tick Prevention. We have topical spot treatments, and chewable tablets available to battle these annoying parasites. The best way to prevent an infestation is to keep your pet on these products year-round.
- Intestinal Parasites Prevention. Once we test to see what kinds of parasites your pet has, we will provide the right deworming treatment that will get your pet feeling great again and schedule them for ongoing treatments to make sure the parasites don’t come back.
- 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 vet, we will provide you with an effective parasite prevention schedule that will prevent these pests from affecting your pet’s or your family’s health.