What’s “buggin” your pet?
Unfortunately many times our pets are carrying unwanted hitchhikers, both externally and internally. These unwanted guests such as heartworms, fleas, ticks and other internal and external parasites are much more than just pests; they can cause life-threatening conditions in your pet—and cause severe, potentially fatal, health problems for you and your family.
A simple way you can help keep your pet healthy is by protecting him or her against parasites. We will recommend the best preventive regimen for your pet, based on its lifestyle and your particular circumstances. We can also provide expert advice on keeping your home from becoming infested with fleas.
Flea Prevention and Control
Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from the very minor irritant to the cause of life-threatening conditions. These parasites can cause severe itching, irritation and allergies as well as transmit tapeworms and other diseases. In many cases they can actually suck enough blood to cause life-threatening anemia, a condition all too often seen in kittens and older dogs and cats. The vast majority of fleas infesting pets in North America today are the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). This species of flea can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, as well as many other species of animals. Fleas don’t just live on pets; often they can bite people, too. You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home.
Today there is a wide variety of safe and effective flea control products available, both oral and topical, to combat this unwanted pest. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can advise you on the best products to use in your particular situation. For more information, contact us or see the article on fleas in the Pet Health Library on our site. Please call us today to find out how you can prevent or eradicate fleas in your pet’s environment or to start your pet on a preventive flea medication.
Tick Prevention and Control
Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in North America and are now being found in areas where ticks were previously non-existent. These parasites aren’t just a nuisance; they can cause serious—and sometimes deadly—diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and tick paralysis.
The best method for keeping ticks off your pet is by maintaining a good dog or cat tick-prevention program. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing or shoes. Today’s tick preventives are safe and highly effective at controlling ticks and the diseases they carry. Call us today to keep your pet protected from these blood-sucking parasites!
Internal Parasite Prevention and Control
All puppies and kittens need to be tested for internal parasites, which are routinely passed from the mother to the offspring before birth, as well as through the milk while nursing, and is usually done as a part of the initial exam. These internal parasites in young animals can often result in severe diarrhea and even death unless detected early and treated. The diseases these parasites can cause are not limited to pets but can also cause severe problems in humans, especially children. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that your pet is parasite-free. Unlike humans, pets not only eat off the ground but also commonly eat other animals’ excrement, causing them to potentially become infected and transmit parasites to other pets and/or their owners. Hence, a yearly fecal parasite test is also recommended for all adult dogs and cats to detect the presence of parasites and treat appropriately.
Heartworm disease (dirofiliariasis) is transmitted by mosquitos. When an infected mosquito bites your dog or cat, it transmits the heartworm larva to your pet, which can cause severe and sometimes fatal damage to its heart, lungs and blood vessels. Some pets show no signs of infection in the carrier state but once transferred to a susceptible animal by the mosquito, will most often cause a range of symptoms such as coughing, fatigue, weight loss, difficulty breathing or a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure), which, without prompt surgical intervention, will ultimately result in death.
Cats can also suffer from heartworm disease; however, their symptoms differ significantly from dogs. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms are often subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing or panting, are some of the more common signs of this disease. Other symptoms include vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), coughing and/or loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is often more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.
Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive and difficult than preventing this devastating disease and can often result in the death of your pet. The best way to deal with this disease is to prevent it, as treatment is not only expensive but also time-consuming and can be difficult.
While heartworms are not commonly found in Ventura County, nonetheless there are sporadic cases reported from time to time. However, it is a significant problem in most of the United States. If you will be traveling outside of southern California, it is important to take measures to prevent this devastating disease as you will likely to be going to, or traveling through, an area where heartworms are endemic. All it takes is one mosquito bite by an infected mosquito to transmit this deadly disease.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering an oral once-a-month heartworm preventive. Most heartworm medications may also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas and ticks. However, because heartworm preventives are not foolproof, a yearly blood test to detect the presence of this parasite is recommended for those pets on heartworm medication.
Please contact us to discuss parasite prevention and determine the most appropriate program for your pet.