Pet Parasite Prevention for Long-Term Health
Parasite prevention isn’t just about helping your pet stay protected against biting insects. It helps your entire family remain safe from parasites and the diseases they carry. Fleas, ticks, and heartworms are the most common pests to affect our pets. And some of them, including fleas, ticks, and the diseases they carry are zoonotic, meaning they can spread from pets to people. Treating these problems is often difficult and costly, but prevention is easy and affordable.
Dangers of Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are two common ectoparasites who feed off of your pet’s blood. They not only cause irritation to your pet’s skin, but they can also pass on other serious conditions including tapeworm (from fleas) and various diseases. Here are some conditions caused by these parasites:
- Tapeworm – these intestinal parasites can cause no evident symptoms in your pet, so regular fecal testing is important. These worms also pose a threat to your human family, so treating and preventing them is essential.
- Allergic reactions – fleas are one of the most common causes of allergic reactions in cats and dogs. When they bite their host, they inject some of their own saliva which is what causes the reaction. Flea bite dermatitis causes hot spots, hair loss, and itchy bumps.
- Tick-borne illnesses - Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis are only a handful of the serious diseases caused by ticks. Ticks alone can cause symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, and loss of appetite, but the diseases do far worse. They can affect your pet’s respiration, nervous system, appetite, and more. If left untreated, these diseases can be fatal.
Health Risks of Heartworm
Heartworms infect your pet through the bite of an infected mosquito. They lodge themselves in the blood vessels of the heart and lungs, where they grow and multiply. Dogs are especially at risk, as they are typical hosts. Heartworm disease constricts blood flow, weakens the heart muscles, causes respiratory problems, and can even cause organ failure in the heart, kidneys, and liver. Heartworm disease often has no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and it’s only after 6 months or more of being infected that your pet will start to show signs. Symptoms of heartworm disease include:
- Persistent, mild cough
- Fatigue and reluctance to exercise
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Sudden labored breathing
- Swollen belly
- And even sudden death
Treatment for heartworm disease is extremely difficult, risky, and expensive for dogs. For cats, there is no effective treatment, so prevention is key.
Talk to your veterinarian at Colony Animal Hospital today to learn more about pet parasite prevention and which preventatives are right for you and your pet.