Buggin’ Out: The Importance of Pet Parasite Prevention
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are rarely spoken of in a positive light – and for good reason. These tiny parasites are not only annoying, they also pose a serious risk to pets and people.
Creepy and Crawly
To fully understand the need for protection, let’s take a closer look at the most common parasites your pet is likely to encounter.
- Fleas – Unfortunately, if you see one flea, you can be sure there are many, many more in the area. Fleas are everywhere in our environment and are easily passed among pets, people, and wild animals. Fleas are notoriously hard to get rid of and can transmit diseases like bordetella (cat scratch fever), plague, and tapeworm. Additionally, many pets suffer from an allergy to flea saliva. Just one bite can make them extremely itchy.
- Ticks – Discovering a tick on your pet or yourself is never fun, especially because these arachnids can pass on some seriously scary diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are becoming more common throughout the country, and they can survive year-round in our climate.
- Heartworm – Heartworm disease is transmitted to dogs by mosquitoes and is a very dangerous vector-borne illness. Once these microscopic worms have entered a pet’s bloodstream, they grow and reproduce, eventually infiltrating the heart and major blood vessels of the lungs. Heartworm disease is expensive and sometimes painful to treat in dogs. Cats can also contract Heartworm from mosquitoes, although less frequently than dogs, and there is no specific treatment for this disease in cats.
- Intestinal parasites – Pets can easily pick up intestinal parasites like hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm by coming into contact with contaminated feces, soil, and other infected animals. Some of these parasites can also be passed from pets to people. Most monthly heartworm prevention medications also contain compounds to treat and prevent intestinal parasites.
Pet Parasite Prevention
Although it can be tempting to stop your pet’s monthly parasite preventives during cooler months, this is not a good idea. Fleas and ticks lie dormant outside during cold weather and can live inside our homes year-round. It only takes a day or two of 50-degree temperatures for mosquito eggs to hatch. In addition, pests of all kinds can be brought to California year-round via tourism.
Protecting Your Pet
Besides providing your pet with a monthly parasite medication (we can help you determine the right option for your furry friend), there are other steps you can take to reduce your pet’s exposure to parasites:
- Fleas and ticks love to hide out in shady areas. Reduce their habitat by keeping your grass and shrubbery trimmed, and remove piles of leaves and debris.
- Take steps to prevent wildlife from entering your yard. Fencing helps, as does keeping compost bins and garbage cans covered.
- Inspect your pet for ticks each time they come inside. Remove ticks promptly using tweezers.
- Bathe and groom your pet regularly.