Parasites such as fleas and ticks can be very damaging to your pet’s health. Preventive measures should be taken year-round to inhibit potential outbreaks.
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 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.
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 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. If left untreated, these diseases, such as lyme, can lead to more severe health problems or even be fatal.
Note: If you see a tick and cannot remove it, we will gladly help you. Call us immediately to limit the impact of the tick's attachment. It’s much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you. Make an appointment with us immediately to limit the impact of the tick.
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.
Roundworms are parasites that can live inside your pet's intestines and feed on the undigested food. Your dog or cat can be infected with roundworms if they ingest feces that has roundworm eggs or larvae present. Roundworms can be particularly harmful to young puppies and kittens, as they can prevent your pet from absorbing nutrients from food. This can stunt their growth and potentially be fatal.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites that can latch onto the intestines of pets and ingest blood. They are most often transmitted through the feces of other dogs and cats, ingestion of contaminated water, or passed in utero. Hookworms can cause severe anemia and weight loss in pets.
Whipworms are another form of parasite that can live in your pet's intestines. Presence of whipworms can cause severe irritation to your pet's cecum and colon leading to weight loss, bloody stools, diarrhea, or other severe intestinal disease. Whipworms are often passed through the ingestion of feces. Once ingested, they can continue their lifecycle by laying eggs in the intestines.
Tapeworms are one of the many intestinal parasites that can effect your pet. Tapeworms are transmitted through fleas, who may eat tapeworm eggs that are released into the environment. If a flea is ingested by your pet (often in response to licking or biting a flea-bite), the tapeworm can then be released into your pets body. Tapeworms don't often cause major health problems in dogs, but may cause weight loss in the case of severe infection.
If your pet is showing signs of fleas such as continuous scratching, gnawing or licking, schedule an appointment immediately. 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.
If you see a tick on your pet, do not try and burn it off with a match. This does not work and could harm your pet. It’s much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you. Make an appointment with us immediately to limit the impact of the tick.
The best treatment for heartworms is prevention. One of the most common and effective prevention methods is a monthly oral medication.
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 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.
Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms:
If you pet is experiencing weight loss, lethargy, bloody stool, or diarrhea please contact our team. These parasites can be diagnosed with a stool sample.
If you see your pet "scooting" and dragging their butt across the ground, they may be responding to irritation caused by tapeworms. You may also see tapeworm "segments" in your pet's feces. Contact our team and we will guide you through diagnosis and treatment options.
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.