Parasite Prevention

Flea Prevention and Control

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Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from minor to life-threatening. Not only can these parasites cause severe itching, irritation, and allergies, but they can also transmit tapeworms and diseases. Fleas can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, and rats. And fleas don’t just stay on pets; they can bite people, too. For more information, contact us or see the flea article in the Pet Health Library on our site.

You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home. We can help keep them away or help you get rid of them if they’ve already found their way inside. We carry a variety of oral and topical medications to meet your needs. Call us to find out how to eliminate and control fleas or to start your pet on a preventive today.

Heartworm Prevention

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When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. And those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog or cat. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.

Although often thought to not be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.

Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention—and the treatment itself carries some risk. There is no approved treatment for heartworm in cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. And even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering monthly heartworm preventives. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. We can recommend the best regimen of prevention for your pet.

Internal Parasites

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Internal Parasites come in many forms; testing methods vary depending on what we’re looking for.
We can screen for intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, coccicia, and giardia; blood-borne parasites like cytauxzoon felis and hemobart; and screen for diseases transmitted by parasitic mosquitoes and ticks like heartworm, Lyme, Erchilichia, and Anaplasmosis.

Two parasites of concern due to their zoonotic (transmissable to human) nature are:

Roundworm – The intestinal parasite of greatest concern is roundworm.  When roundworms infect humans, it can result in a condition known as ocular larval migrans.  Since humans are not a natural host for roundworms, the larvae migrate through different areas of the body than they would in a cat or a dog.  In this case, the larvae migrate to the human eye and damage the retina and/or the lens, resulting in blindness.  Children are at the greatest risk for this disease since the infection occurs through ingestion of the eggs or larvae of the roundworm, often passed through feces.

Hookworm –  Human infection with hookworm usually occurs as a result of the larvae penetrating the skin and causing a condition known as cutaneous larval migrans.  Again, since humans are not natural hosts for hookworms, the larvae migrate through different areas of the body than they would in cats or dogs.  In cutaneous larval migrans, the larvae migrate through the skin causing serpentine, linear lesions that are intensely pruritic.  This disease is generally not life threatening but it is very uncomfortable.

Children’s sand boxes should be kept covered to prevent dogs from defecating in them; young children should be monitored when playing outside to ensure that they are not ingesting dirt and their hands should be washed after playing outside.  Shoes should be worn to reduce the risk of hookworm infection and gloves should be worm while gardening.

Prevention of transmission of roundworms and hookworms from dogs to humans involves a fecal exam at their first visit and deworming at the first and second visit.  If there is evidence of roundworms or hookworms in the fecal exam or if the owner notices the puppy passing roundworms, a follow-up fecal exam should be done at the third visit to ensure the infection has been cleared.  We recommend year-round protection with medications that treat a variety of internal parasites.  We will recommend a product that suits the needs of your individual pet and lifestyle.

Tick Prevention

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Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in North America, and they’re now being found in areas where people and pets didn’t previously encounter ticks. These parasites aren’t just a nuisance; they can cause serious—and sometimes deadly—diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tick paralysis. Contact us immediately if your pet starts coughing or has joint pain, trouble breathing, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite, weight, energy, or coordination.

The best method for keeping ticks off your pet is by keeping your dog or cat on a tick preventive. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing or shoes. Tick preventives are safe and highly effective at controlling ticks and the diseases they carry. Call us to get your pet protected today!

Don’t panic if you find a tick on your dog or cat, even if your pet is on a preventive. Some preventives kill ticks after they’ve come in contact with your pet. Ticks can hide easily under your pet’s fur, so as an added measure of protection, we recommend checking your pet for ticks every time your pet comes in from outside. And don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have.