Mosquitos, Fleas, And Ticks, Oh My: The Importance Of Pet Parasite Prevention
At some point in their lives, most of our pets will experience the annoyance of an internal or external parasite. Fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other parasitic critters are more than just uncomfortable for pets, however. Many of these tiny foes are harbingers of disease, some of which can be passed to humans.
As responsible pet owners, it’s our job to educate ourselves on the dangers of these common parasites and learn how we can protect our four-legged friends, and ourselves.
If you’ve noticed fleas on your pet, chances are good you already have an infestation on your hands. Fleas are easily passed from one pet to another and thrive in warm climates both inside and outside our homes. Fleas live by biting and sucking the blood of animals and can cause a multitude of problems for your pet, including:
- Flea allergic dermatitis – Causes intense itching and can lead to open sores and infection.
- Cat scratch fever – Infectious disease that can be passed to humans, also known as Bartonellosis.
- Tapeworm – Passed to pets via ingestion of infected fleas while grooming.
- Feline infectious anemia – Fleas can carry and transmit life threatening blood parasite.
Ticks are most often found in wooded areas, brush, shrubs, and long grasses, lying in wait for a host animal such as a dog, cat, or human. A tick attaches itself to its host by burying its head under the skin, where it drinks its fill of blood. Ticks can transmit a variety of serious diseases to people and pets, including:
- Lyme disease – symptoms include joint inflammation, reduced appetite, depression, and kidney damage
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever – can cause lethargy, loss of coordination, bruising, fluid retention/swelling in limbs, and problems with blood clotting
- Tick-born encephalitis – a disease affecting the nervous system, can cause convulsions, tremors, loss of coordination, and paralysis
Mosquitos are more than just annoying, some transmit heartworm, a devastating illness that is very difficult to treat in dogs, and almost always fatal in cats. Heartworm has been found in all 50 states and may be transmitted at any time of the year thanks to tourism and unseasonably warm temperatures, making year round heartworm prevention critical.
Intestinal parasites such as hookworm, whipworm, and roundworm are easily picked up by our pets from contact with infected feces, soil, and other animals. Some of these worms can even be passed from pets to people. Fortunately, most heartworm preventive medications contain compounds that prevent and treat most intestinal parasites.
Pet Parasite Prevention
Now for the good news: these nasty creatures and their associated pathogens are all preventable! Year round pet parasite prevention is easy to dispense, affordable, and crucial to the health and well being of your pets, and your family. If you haven’t started your pet on flea, tick, and heartworm preventive medication yet, give us a call at The Whole Pet Vet Hospital And Wellness Center.