The idea of your pet being infested with parasites is a disturbing thought, but it’s also a medical issue that can have serious consequences if not properly dealt with or prevented. Parasites pose a variety of health issues for our pets, who can be very susceptible to certain parasites depending on age, region, and other factors.
At Alpine Animal Hospital, we emphasize the importance of preventing parasites. Through preventative measures, you can successfully protect your pet. But pets that are not protected often develop parasites, leading to serious problems for them and their owners.
The cost of prevention is minimal compared to the cost of treatment, which can be expensive and stressful on your pet. Parasites can even be fatal, so preventing parasites is of the utmost importance.
Heartworm in Dogs
Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria Immitis which is transmitted by Mosquitoes. Once bitten by an infected mosquito, Heartworm larvae make their way into the dog’s bloodstream and then travels to the heart where it matures. If left untreated, an infestation can occur causing the heart to essentially suffocate.
To prevent the transmission of Heartworm we recommend putting your dog on Heartworm preventative medication during the mosquitoes’ active months of the year (i.e. June – November). It is recommended that dogs have a 4DX Snap (Heartworm/Tick Test) done every 1-2 years.
For this 2019 year, we have had a dog come back Heartworm positive after having a 4DX Snap (Heartworm/Tick) Test done in clinic.
Ticks in Dogs
Of the known ticks in the world, we in Canada have approximately 4 that are most commonly seen. As rural areas become more urbanized we are seeing an influx in ticks in the city because they tend to hitch rides on any and all wildlife. Ticks can transmit a wide range of disease, the most prevalent being Lyme Disease which is transmitted from the Deer tick or Black Legged Tick and can infect both dogs and humans alike. Ticks do not handle cold weather well but begin to surface as soon as temperatures reach 0ºC.
Tick prevention is recommended to give during all Spring, Summer, and most of Fall seasons, or until the temperature drops below zero. It is also recommended to have a blood test done every 1-2 years to check for tick-bourne diseases.
For the year of 2018 we had a total of 29 positive 4DX Tests.
To date (2019), we currently have a total of 28 positive 4DX Tests.
Fleas in Cats and Dogs
Fleas are tiny, visible parasites that infest cats and dogs. Fleas are species specific and though a bad infestation may result in humans getting bitten the fleas are not actively feeding, instead they are using humans as a form of transportation until a suitable host can be found or the flea dies from starvation.
Fleas are easily transferable between pets in the home (if one has them, they all have them) so when treating for fleas all pets in the household must be treated.
Internal Parasites in Dogs
With all the external parasites we’ve covered we cannot neglect to mention internal parasites. These types of parasites include (but not limited to) Roundworm, Hookworm and Tapeworm. you will often see veterinarians giving a de-wormer to puppies during their initial visit due to transmission of parasites in the womb.
Most Tick, Flea and Heartworm medications encompass a de-worming element to them, although there are specific medications for internal parasites as well.
Internal Parasites In Cats
If you have an outdoor cat in your household it is highly recommended to keep their de-worming up to date. Actively hunting cats are constantly eating mice, bids and other small prey animals. These animal are often intermediate hosts for several types of internal parasites, specifically intestinal worms which can cause anemia if left untreated.
De-worming your outdoor cat ever 1 – 3 months is recommended to prevent an infestation of parasites.