Parasite prevention is an important part of your pet’s health.
Fleas, ticks, and heartworm are not only a source of irritation to your pet, but they can also harbor disease and adversely affect your pet’s health—and can even be fatal. Thankfully, all of these can be prevented, and Whole Pet Veterinary Hospital can help you keep your pet safe.
Fleas are small, jumping insects that live off of the blood of animals. They can carry dangerous diseases and will often cause allergic dermatitis (severe itching) in pets. 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.
Ticks are external parasites that live off of the bodily fluids of animals. They can carry diseases from one animal to another and are the main cause of the spread of diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 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.
Heartworm is a parasite that can live in the heart of dogs and cats. Mosquitoes carry the worm from one infected animal to another. Several hundred worms can live in the heart of a dog and infection from the parasite causes significant damage and can be fatal. 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 it can actually kill your dog. There is no approved treatment for 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.
Reach out today and get your pet started on a parasite prevention plan that will keep them protected from dangerous parasites.