Despite the common belief that fleas and ticks are active in warmer months, these parasites actually threaten the health of your pets all year long. The soft, warm fur of cats and dogs provides an ideal environment for fleas and ticks to grow and multiply. These pests suck your pet’s blood and can cause several health problems ranging from allergy to serious tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease that affect humans. These diseases can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. The best way to protect your pets from these parasites is getting year-round flea, tick, and heartworm protection.
3 Common Parasites Your Pets May Get and How to Spot Them
Fleas can make your pets miserable. These parasites bite the skin to suck blood, transmit disease, and cause severe itching and skin infections. They can even cause your pets to become aggressive and irritable. If you’ve found some fleas on your dog or cat, then it follows that they can already be anywhere in your place such as your sofa, bedding, carpet, floorboards, etc.
Fleas can also lay thousands of eggs in their entire lifetime and these eggs remain until hatching even after falling from the host. Once a flea infestation is observed at home, you should treat not only your pets but also your environment. Getting rid of them can be very difficult to do because fleas are extremely persistent. Some of the things that you should do to protect yourself and your pets from a flea infestation are getting flea treatment from your vet, cleaning your house thoroughly, and washing your pet’s bedding at high temperatures daily, just to name a few. Being proactive about keeping your pet fleas-free all year long will save you from future stress, expenses, and any health problem with your pets.
Here are some flea warning signs to watch out for.
- Excessive scratching and itching
- Dark specks in the fur
- Flea eggs
- Scabs or hotspots
- Skin infections
- Loss of hair
Just like fleas, ticks suck your pet’s blood. They’re easy to spot because you can feel them when you pet your cat or dog and you can also see them. If left unchecked, ticks can also cause health problems, some of which can be serious. For instance, ticks can cause Lyme disease that can also infect humans. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, joint swelling, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, and limping. In worse cases, this can lead to kidney failure, weight loss, vomiting, and decreased appetite.
Other debilitating diseases that can be caused by ticks are anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, tick paralysis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If you find ticks on your dog, remove them right away or call your vet for medications. Tick-borne diseases are more commonly observed in dogs but that doesn’t mean that cats are exempt from this. For instance, anaplasmosis can be diagnosed in cats.
Heartworm infection is a serious condition in cats and dogs. This disease is caused by a lethal parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis that is spread through mosquito bites. Heartworm disease is associated with severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and ultimately death, commonly in dogs, cats, and ferrets.
There are treatments available for pets with heartworm diseases such as melarsomine injections and adjunct medications but they come with potential side effects and high costs. Side effects can include soreness and swelling at the site of the injection. There’s also the risk of pulmonary thromboembolism which is a condition wherein one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs is blocked. This is mainly caused by dead or dying worms getting dislodged into the pulmonary arteries where they are broken down by the immune system.
Pet owners are advised to closely monitor their dogs or cats for signs of pulmonary thromboembolism which may include shortness of breath, worsening coughing, weakness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Heartworm disease is less common in cats but it’s essential to protect them from this fatal disease as well.
Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention at Bannon Woods Veterinary Hospital
Prevention is your pet’s best defense against any parasite infestation whether it’s fleas, tick, or heartworm. It’s so much easier to keep your pets on a preventative than to lose them to these highly preventable diseases. Getting year-round flea, tick, and heartworm protection for your pets is a healthier, less expensive way to protect them and give them the quality of life that brings out their personality. Our vets will help you figure out which products and preventatives are best for your pets.
At Bannon Woods Veterinary Hospital, we treat every pet patient as if they are our own. So your pets are sure to receive compassionate care from our team of board-certified veterinarians and experienced animal lovers who are committed to giving them the best care possible. If you want to keep your pets safe all year and give yourself some peace of mind, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our veterinarians today. We serve Louisville, Kentucky, and surrounding areas including Jeffersonville, Clarksville, New Albany, Newburg, Okolona, and more.