Top 5 Reasons to Use Parasite Protection

By: Nancy Turner, DVM

TVMA Member
Dallas, TX

Published May 2017

Summer is just around the corner, and with the warmer temperatures, everyone is outside more often, including parasites.

Protect your pet with a comprehensive parasite protection plan. Here are the top five reasons why protecting your pet should be at the top of your pet care checklist:

1. Fleas and Ticks Carry Disease

Ticks can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosisbacterial illness transmitted by ticks that causes flu-like symptoms and other harmful diseases. In addition to presenting a disease risk, fleas are the culprit of the most common skin diseases in pets, such as flea allergy dermatitis. One flea bite can cause a severe allergic reaction, leading to excessive scratching, inflamed skin and often a secondary bacterial skin infection. This can make your pet uncomfortable and lead to an otherwise avoidable trip to the veterinarian’s office. By protecting your pet against these insects, you are also protecting your house and family.

2. Heartworms Are Real and Dangerous

North Texas has one of the highest incidences of heartworm disease in pets in the country. Heartworms are spread by mosquitos and affect dogs and cats as well as some exotic animals such as ferrets. They cause significant damage to the heart and lungs and, in many instances, can cause death. The treatment for heartworm disease, especially advanced heartworm disease, can be risky and expensive in dogs, and there is no treatment currently available for cats.

3. Intestinal Parasites Can Infect People Too

Intestinal parasites, sometimes referred to as worms, are those parasites that reside within the gastrointestinal tract. The most common clinical signs of intestinal parasite infection (also called infestation) are vomiting and diarrhea. Some internal parasites that infect dogs and cats may also infect people as well. Monthly deworming treatments, which are included in many of the monthly heartworm preventatives veterinarians recommend, can help protect your pet from these parasites.

4. Veterinary-Approved Prevention Is Safe and Effective When Used Correctly

Always consult with your veterinarian before giving or applying any pest control product to your pet. There continues to be a problem with products not being safe, effective or in-date when they are not sold by a veterinarian. Flea and tick shampoos fall in this category as well. Remember that most of these products have no lasting effect or residual activity. As soon as you wash the shampoo off your pet, the bugs can get right back on. Safe and effective treatments are available through your veterinarian, and your veterinarian can help you pick the right product for your pet’s risk and your family’s lifestyle. Veterinarians will take into consideration multiple factors like travel, children and possible exposure before recommending any parasite prevention. Since veterinarians want to tailor your pet’s parasite prevention as much as possible, please share any questions or concerns with them during your pet’s physical exam. Some topical and oral medications available through your veterinarian prevent or kill fleas as well as heartworms and common intestinal parasites, making it easy to protect your pet. It is also important to note that all of these products must be used as directed as they are meant for specific species and for specific body weights. For example, do not use your dog’s medications on your cat or your 50-pound dog’s medications on your 20-pound dog.

5. An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Preventing your pet from becoming infested with fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites can avoid the expense of treatment later on, as well as problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, itching, scratching, anemia and heart disease in your pet. You should also look at the coverage that pet insurance plans offer for these types of preventative treatments.

Spring is a great time of year. Protect your pet and your household by using a comprehensive, safe, veterinary-approved parasite prevention protocol. Call your veterinarian and set up an exam today so he or she can tailor a comprehensive parasite protection program for your pet. Let us help you and your pet get ready for spring!


Resources:

Companion Animal Parasite Council: http://www.capcvet.org/

American Heartworm Society:  http://www.heartwormsociety.org/

Hookworms: http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/hookworm.htm

Roundworms: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxocariasis/index.html

Nancy Turner, DVM, is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine who lives in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Turner practices at CityVet White Rock.