Pet Care Series: 8 Steps to Keep Your Pet Healthy
At University Pet Hospital, it is our mission to be the most reliable, responsible and respected providers of veterinary services to pets and their owners. It is through continuous education of our staff that we are able to better provide the care your pet needs to live a long healthy life.
In our pet healthcare series, we will take a look at the eight steps you should take to ensure your pet remains in prime health.
This week, we will take a look at the second step: Common Parasites. Cats and dogs are susceptible to a number of parasitic infections, several of which are zoonotic (possess the ability to infect people as well as animals). Parasite prevention is not only important for the health of your pet but also for the health of your family.
Fleas and Ticks
The most common type of parasites inflicting grief on your pet are fleas and ticks. These troublesome parasites not only cause problems with the skin, but they possess the ability to transmit a number of diseases to your pet. Fortunately, there are many safe and highly effective products available through your veterinarian that can treat and prevent flea and tick infestations. Regular use of one of these products can effectively prevent fleas and ticks from becoming a problem for your pet. It may be tempting to purchase an over the counter product for your pet’s protection, but be cautious since many of these products can have serious side effects if used improperly and may have limited effectiveness.
The most common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccidian (an organism that lives in the intestinal tract). All of these organisms possess the ability to cause illness in your pet, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and poor overall health; however, these parasites can affect your animal’s health long before you notice any symptoms. Additionally, roundworms, hookworms and some tapeworms are zoonotic parasites, which means that they can also infect humans. It is for these reasons that you should contact your veterinarian to check on setting up a routine testing schedule and monthly preventatives.
Heartworm is a worm that resides in the heart and lungs of infected dogs and cats. It is carried by mosquitoes, who transmit heartworm larvae into the bloodstream of the pet when bitten. These larvae then develop into adult worms that, over time, cause heart disease and respiratory problems in dogs. In cats, the signs can be more vague including vomiting, coughing, weight loss and sudden death. Fortunately, this is a preventable disease and there are a number of excellent monthly heartworm preventatives available through your veterinarian. These products when given year-round provide outstanding protection against heartworm disease. There are even all-in-one products that prevent heartworm, intestinal worms, ticks and fleas. Your veterinarian can help you decide which product is best for you and your pet.
Prevention and Treatment
The first step in intestinal parasite prevention is appropriate deworming of puppies and kittens early in life. Young animals acquire intestinal parasites from their mother while in her uterus or through her milk. Therefore, a large percentage of puppies and kittens are infected with intestinal parasites at the time they are adopted. Puppies and kittens should be dewormed every 2-3 weeks until they are 12 weeks old. Animals that are older should be dewormed at least twice when they are first adopted. Once initial deworming is completed, dogs and cats should be put on a monthly, year-round product that prevents intestinal parasites, as well as heartworm infection.
For more information about protecting your pet from parasites, please visit our website or contact our hospital at 619-333-8006 to set up an appointment to talk to our veterinarians.