In Gastonia, North Carolina, flea, tick, heartworm and other parasite control is a year-round effort. For this reason, Wilkinson Animal Hospital wants you to know that prevention is a necessity for keeping your pets safe and comfortable. Parasites are not just a nuisance— many pet parasites are zoonotic, which means they can cause serious illness in both pets and humans. Some parasites can even be fatal. Keeping your pet free from parasites is one of the most important things you can do to keep both of you in good health.
How Parasites Affect Animals
Parasites that may affect your dog or cat includes:
Heartworms - heartworms live in the heart, lungs and associated surrounding tissues; unless treated, heartworms can directly affect the lifespan of your pet.
External Parasites (Fleas, ticks and mites) - fleas typically do not cause extensive damage but they are a nuisance for both pets and owners; ticks are known carriers of Lymes Disease, and pets that spend time outdoors should be checked often; mites can cause infections in the ear from scratching; mange mites may cause scabies or mange and when left untreated, may compromise your pet’s immune system; mites can easily transfer between animals, so prevention and treatment is important.
Intestinal Parasites - hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms are the most common types of Intestinal parasites; if left untreated, these parasites can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and weight loss; intestinal parasites can also be transferred to humans through feces.
Fleas, Ticks & Intestinal Parasites
You may not always be able to detect parasitic infestations on your pet. Fleas can burrow deep under your pet’s fur, and some ticks can be the size of a pinhead, making them difficult to see. Intestinal parasites, like roundworms, can cause diarrhea, but many infected pets don’t show any signs of illness at all. One flea can lay 50 eggs a day on your pet. Wherever your pet goes, these eggs will drop off and mature to new, adult fleas.
Most intestinal parasites are not overtly visible in feces. We screen for infection by microscopic analysis in our laboratory. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends that fecal analysis be performed two to four times during the first year for puppies and kittens, and once or twice per year for adult pets.
Ticks can transmit infections like Lyme disease, and fleas can transmit tapeworms and Bartonella, a bacteria that causes “cat-scratch fever” in humans. These can be detrimental to both your health and your pets.
Heartworm Prevention for Dogs & Cats
Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Twelve-inch long worms can live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage and fatality.
Common Questions Regarding Heartworm
How does my pet get heartworm?
One infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your pet with the larval form of the heartworm parasite. Mosquitos then transmit the disease from one animal to the next. They live in the animal, producing baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. Heartworms can grow and live for 5-7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.
What can I do to protect my pet?
Heartworm disease is preventable! Prevention is the safest and most cost-effective approach, but treatment is available for dogs, although costly and lengthy. Dogs should be tested annually, where cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment for cats.
Wilkinson Animal Hospital has safe, effective products that cater to you and your pet's lifestyle and budget. Heartworm prevention is provided 12 months of the year with varying options on treatment intervals and dosages.
With a preventative care exam, we will fit your pet with the appropriate medications to help control fleas, ticks and other parasites. Parasites are both a nuisance and a danger to you and your pet, but being aware and proactive in their prevention can be the key to a healthy lifestyle for your pet. Call our staff at Wilkinson Animal Hospital in Gastonia, North Carolina, to start your pet on a parasite prevention and control program.