Parasite Prevention Month
Spring is in the air—which means fleas and ticks are too. Having a prevention plan is the best approach when it comes to protecting your pet against deadly heartworms, intestinal parasites, and flea and tick infestations. Your veterinarian will help you find the product that is right for your pet based on his or her needs and your pet will thank you for keeping them safe and parasite free.
What are parasites?
Parasites are organisms that feed on or within other animals. Fleas and ticks are the most well-known, but other common parasites include mites, lice, heartworm, and many other intestinal parasites. There are two categories of parasites—external and internal.
External Parasites: Fleas, Ticks, & Mites
Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid, although they can also be active in cooler weather. All cats and dogs are susceptible to flea infestations. Fleas can also transmit Bartonella Henslae, which causes "cat scratch fever" in humans.
Beyond the skin irritation and discomfort, fleas can also cause:
- deadly infestations
- flea-allergy dermatitis
- flea-related anemia
- transmission of tapeworm parasites if ingested.
Ticks can spread serious infectious diseases such as:
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Pet owners should inspect their pets regularly for ticks, large and small, especially after being outside in wooded or grassy areas.
Ear and skin mites are extremely contagious in cats and dogs (mostly found in cats). Mites are passed from animal to animal. If there are multiple pets in one household, each one should be taken to the vet and checked for mites. Mites are not easily seen and the following symptoms could be a sign that your cat has mites:
- Scratching at ears
- A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear
- Hair loss from excessive scratching
Left untreated, mites can lead to other serious secondary infections.
Internal Parasites: Intestinal Parasites & Heartworm
Intestinal parasites include:
All of these are common in cats and dogs and it is possible to transmit some of these parasites from pets to humans.
Mosquitoes can spread heartworm, a harmful disease that is predominantly found in dogs but can also affect cats. As its name implies, heartworm lives in the blood of a pet’s heart and blood vessels. We recommend annual screenings for dogs, even if they are already on heartworm preventatives, and talk to your veterinarian about heartworm preventatives for your cats.