March is National Pet Parasite Awareness month! And as it should be, Spring is here and with the season comes lots of creepy crawlers that just love to hang out on or in our pets. Even Bubbs had an issue with fleas last year! Be sure to keep your dog(s) on all the proper medication to keep them protected against these parasites (fleas, ticks, heartworms, etc.)! We’ll do our best to bring you as many coupons this season to keep you within budget too!
Go HERE for a valuable coupon for Advantage-Multi!
Check out this article about pet parasites, courtesy of VCA Hospitals & Dr. Donna Spector, DVM!
Pet Parasites – What You Need To Know To Protect Your Pet and Family
There are a number of parasites that infect dogs and cats both internally and externally. While the thought of this may give people the “creepy-crawlies”, it is important that pet owners understand the potentially severe health consequences for their pet (and possibly themselves) if parasite infestations are not detected early and treated appropriately.
Some of the most common pet parasites:
- Fleas and Ticks. The most common external parasites are fleas and ticks. These parasites can transmit several illnesses to both you and your pet—since they serve as hosts for tapeworms and several bacteria which can cause debilitating and even life-threatening illnesses, like Lyme disease. Heavy infestations of fleas can also lead to anemia and death, particularly in young dogs and cats.
- Heartworm. Heartworms are potentially deadly internal parasites. Heartworm disease affects both dogs and cats (but rarely people) and is present in every U.S. state aside from Alaska. Unrecognized and untreated heartworm infection can ultimately lead to heart failure and death. Other problems such as lung inflammation, kidney dysfunction and skin irritation can also occur.
- Intestinal parasites. Intestinal parasites such as Giardia and worms (e.g. roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms) are also very common and debilitating parasites of dogs and cats. If Giardia or worm infestations are left untreated, intestinal inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, severe weight loss, anemia and even death can occur. The growth and thriftiness of young animals can be particularly affected. Intestinal worms may affect your pet all year long and your pet may have no signs—for this reason it is important to routinely check stool samples for parasites. Many of the monthly heartworm preventatives will also effectively control intestinal worms.
Did you know pets can be infected by parasites year-round? Fleas and ticks are less prevalent outside during the colder months; however, they often survive inside during this time. Intestinal worms may affect your pet all year long and your pet may have no signs. In fact, 34% of U.S. dogs have intestinal parasites and very few have diarrhea or other related signs. The adult worms are not usually shed in feces, making identification of the problem difficult. The worm eggs will be present, but they cannot be seen with a naked eye. Therefore, it is recommended that your VCA veterinarian check your pet’s feces and deworm them routinely.
How to protect your pet and your family from parasites:
- Follow your VCA veterinarian’s recommended deworming and parasite testing guidelines for your pet.
- Use year-round flea, tick, and deworming treatments and heartworm preventative on your pet to control common parasites.
- Only feed your pet cooked or prepared foods (not raw meat).
- Clean up your pet’s feces regularly. Consider wearing gloves as well as washing your hands thoroughly after handling fecal material.
- Limit your pet’s access to “high parasite risk” areas such as sandboxes, dog parks or any other area highly trafficked by pets.
- Always practice good personal hygiene when handling pets. This is especially important for children who often eat dirt, kiss pets, and don’t always wash their hands after handling pets.
Always work with your VCA veterinarian to determine the best way to prevent parasites in your dog or cat. They will consider your pet’s parasite risk factors and lifestyle and recommend the best plan for you.
For this month of National Pet Parasite Awareness, and all months out of the year, it’s important to have your dogs and cats checked for parasites and keep an eye-out for any telling signs.
To happy and healthy pets,
Dr. Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM from VCA Animal Hospitals
Thanks, VCA & Dr. Spector, DVM!