Many people think that parasites are a fairly unavoidable part of pet ownership, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Whether an internal or external variety, these tiny creatures derive their nutrients from your precious pet at her expense. Not only can they make life extremely unpleasant for her and anyone else living in your home, in some instances a parasite problem can have serious consequences for the health of your pet. By taking proactive steps to protect your pet from parasites and by identifying a parasite problem early and seeking professional help from our experienced veterinary team, you can prevent much of the suffering that your pet would otherwise experience and eliminate the risk to her health.
WHAT PARASITES CAN AFFECT MY PET?
There are many different types of parasites that potentially pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of our pets. These usually fall into one of two categories: internal or external parasites.
COMMON INTERNAL PARASITES
As their name suggests, internal parasites are little creatures that live inside your pet’s body. They are often referred to as worms due to their shape, although different types of worms have slightly different characteristics. Some of the most common types of work to affect our pets include:
Each of these parasites has the capability to mature and reproduce, causing the number that is living inside your pet to grow. They can affect her major organs and body systems, causing a range of unpleasant symptoms and making her very unwell. Heartworms, which can grow up to 12inches long and live in the blood vessels of its host’s heart and lungs can prove fatal if not treated.
Since you cannot see worms unless they are passed out of your pet’s body in her feces, identifying a worm infestation can be tricky and protection against them is essential.
COMMON EXTERNAL PARASITES
These live outside your pet’s body, usually on her skin, drinking her blood to survive. While you might think that this would make them easier to spot, it is not always easy to see them buried in your pet’s coat. This is especially true for fleas which are virtually microscopic in size. Some of the most common external parasites to affect pets include ticks, fleas, and mites.
Unfortunately, fleas and ticks are well known for their ability to spread diseases such as Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Tapeworms, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Large infestations can also cause blood loss, leading to anemia. Fleas are a particular nuisance since infestations in your home are particularly hard to get rid of.
PREVENTING AND CONTROLLING A PET PARASITE INFESTATION
Getting a parasite infestation under control is essential if you are to make your pet comfortable and prevent her from suffering. Exactly how to do this will depend on the type of parasitic infestation your pet has. Internal parasites can only be treated using medication that is prescribed by our veterinarian. In the case of heartworms, complex, multi-stage treatment is needed, along with regular heartworm testing, to eliminate your pet’s infestation. However, your pet needn’t suffer from parasites at all if you choose to opt into a comprehensive preventative care program with our experienced veterinary team. This program will involve us assessing the parasite prevention requirements of your pet and recommending the necessary medications to keep the parasites at bay.
It is also fairly simple to prevent and treat external parasite infestations as there are a wide number of preventative treatments and treatment types available. These include topical treatments and collars as well as oral medications. These must be administered on a strict schedule as advised by our veterinary team to ensure that your pet is not left vulnerable at any point.
There are also several things that you can do at home that will help prevent your pet from being affected by parasites. These include:
- Checking your pet carefully for ticks when she comes in from being outside, as this is when she is more likely to come into contact with this type of parasite.
- Being aware of the symptoms of any sort of parasitic infestation.
- Grooming your pet regularly. This gives you the opportunity to check for external parasites such as mites and ticks.
- Keeping your home clean. It might seem obvious, but parasites thrive in an unclean environment. Fleas, in particular, are very happy to become uninvited house guests and will live in cracks in floorboards, under furniture and in the carpets. Vacuum daily and wash soft furnishings regularly to help minimize the likelihood of getting fleas in your home. You can also buy home preventatives to further protect your property.
If you would like more information and advice on parasite control for pets, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced and knowledgeable veterinary team at our offices in Geneva, OH.