An annual checkup from your veterinarian can help keep your pet parasite-free
Parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms are not only irritating to pets, but can also carry bacteria and/or spread infections that can be dangerous for people and pets alike. For the comfort and safety of your pets and your family, it’s crucial that you take steps to protect your pets from parasites. Both outdoor and indoor pets should be on flea, tick, and worm preventatives. Also, make sure to schedule an annual visit to your veterinarian to check for infestations and get advice about managing the following pet parasites.
You might think your pets are safe from fleas because they never go outside. The truth is fleas are often carried into the home on clothing or in the fur of mice or rats. Fleas can cause pets to scratch and bite themselves to the point where they may develop skin infections. Also, fleas can carry potentially deadly germs such as Bartonella, and if a pet eats a flea that has fed on a rodent they could get tapeworm. Watch your pet carefully for signs of scratching, comb them regularly with a flea comb, and use a quality flea preventative all year round.
If you or your pets frequently play in forests or fields, you could pick up ticks and bring them home. Ticks are dangerous because they carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever among other diseases. It is important to check carefully for ticks after an outdoor adventure and remove them. Many flea preventatives are also effective against ticks, causing the parasite to die and drop off after biting the animal.
Heartworm is a potentially life-threatening parasite that can enter your pet’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite and damage heart and lung arteries. It is highly recommended that all dogs be given a quality heartworm preventative, even if they do not spend much time outside or if you don’t think your area is prone to mosquitoes. Your veterinarian will administer a blood test to check for infection before prescribing this medication.
Intestinal worms such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms are more common than you might think. An estimated 30 to 45 percent of American pets have worms, and their owners don’t even know it. Pets typically will not display symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or scooting unless they already have a very high parasite load, at which point the worms will already be affecting their health. Fortunately, a quality heartworm medication will protect against most worms except tapeworms. Pets should have a stool sample checked by a vet at least once per year to check for worms and worm eggs. As a preventative measure, you may want to simply deworm pets annually for maximum protection against these parasites.