Annual parasite testing and monthly administration of parasite preventatives is the best way to protect your dog or cat from heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas, and ticks. Parasites are an unpleasant fact of life and something that both pets and humans have to deal with throughout the year. Fortunately, preventing infestations and the spread of parasitic diseases is not as difficult as it may seem. Clarion Animal Hospital offers a wide range of dog and cat parasite preventatives that protect against virtually every pest that poses a threat. While there is never a 100% guarantee of perfect protection, your pet’s risk for infestations and infections can be significantly reduced.
Intestinal parasites attach to the intestinal walls of dogs and cats, where they proliferate and lay their eggs. Pets with worms often shed the worms’ eggs in their stool, which can lead to the spread of worms to other animals if accidentally ingested or inhaled. Humans can also unknowingly track the eggs into the house, so even indoor-only pets are not completely safe.
The most common intestinal parasites we see in dogs and cats include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and giardia. In many cases, pets infected with these parasites do not show clinical symptoms, though diarrhea or vomiting may occur. Bloating of the abdomen can also happen, especially in puppies or kittens with a significant worm infestation.
Fortunately, worms are treatable with the help of your veterinarian. Administering monthly preventatives to your pet can prevent infestations from happening, and from spreading to other pets.
Every pet owner knows about (and probably dreads) fleas and ticks. Fleas are especially tenacious and frustrating to deal with, but ticks can also be a problem, thanks to their ability to transmit diseases like Lyme and Ehrlichiosis to animals and humans.
Ticks are tiny arachnids that will attach to hosts by “questing,” or hanging around on the edge of a leaf or blade of grass with their front legs reaching out to grasp when an animal brushes by. These elusive creatures often go undetected until they’ve embedded themselves into the skin of their host and need to be forcibly extracted.
Fleas can be found indoors and outdoors, and create ironclad cocoons for themselves when they are in the pupa stage. This makes them very hard to eradicate in the event of a home invasion. Preventing an infestation altogether is your best bet for protecting your pet and your home from fleas. To prevent an infestation and the spread of disease by these pests, your dog or cat must be kept on monthly flea and tick preventatives all year round. We also recommend screening your pet for tick-borne diseases, and if needed, vaccinating your dog for Lyme disease.
Heartworms are a more serious threat to dogs and cats, because clinical signs of a heartworm infection may not occur for months. Heartworm disease is potentially fatal in pets, especially cats, for which there is no treatment for heartworm. Dogs can be treated, but the treatment takes multiple appointments and is costly. Also, there is no guarantee that a dog will not have lasting damage from the heartworms even after treatment.
Signs of heartworm disease in dogs include:
- Chronic coughing
- Exercise reluctance
- Loss of appetite
Cats may experience similar symptoms but for many, sudden death is more likely.
Tick-borne Disease FAQ
Lyme disease and anaplasmosis are tick-borne diseases we see most often here in Clarion, PA. They are transmitted via the bite of a black-legged deer tick. But these ticks are not only a hazard to dogs–they can also bite and transmit Lyme and anaplasmosis to humans.
Anaplasmosis is a bacterial disease spread through the bite of a deer tick, and in some cases of infection, there are no symptoms displayed or treatment required. Dogs that do need treatment typically exhibit a fever and can expect a full recovery with antibiotics.
Lyme is also a bacterial disease, and it can cause symptoms such as appetite loss, fatigue, lameness, swelling of the joints, and lymph node swelling in dogs. It is generally treatable if the symptoms are caught in time and addressed as soon as possible by your veterinarian.
There are a couple of things we recommend to keep your pet healthy and fully protected against tick-borne diseases. First, your dog needs to be taking tick preventatives each month of the year, year after year. This greatly reduces your pet’s risk for tick-borne disease. Second, we recommend routine parasite testing, which includes screening for Lyme and anaplasmosis.
Finally, if you happen to notice any potential illness symptoms in your dog, let us know as soon as possible so we can provide the necessary treatment.