Pet Parasite Prevention 101
Dogs and cats are susceptible to a number of internal and external parasites, some of which are capable of being passed to humans. Year-round, monthly parasite prevention is not only a vital component of your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, it’s important for your family’s health as well.
Pet Parasite Prevention
Parasites are more than just annoying. Many carry pathogens that can put our pets at risk for dangerous illnesses. By following your veterinarian’s recommendations for monthly parasite preventive medications, you will be protecting your pet from these tiny foes:
Fleas – If you spot one flea, you can be sure there are many, many more you have not seen. Fleas are easily passed from one pet to another, or to household furnishings, and can also affect the human members of the family. Besides being carriers of disease, and the frequent cause of pet allergies, fleas can make your pet extremely uncomfortable.
Ticks – Besides being just plain gross, ticks can transmit some seriously scary diseases to your pet, and to you, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick-borne encephalitis. Tick prevalence in Michigan is rising and we’re seeing plenty of ticks here in the Greater Detroit area already.
Heartworm – Heartworm is an especially dangerous parasite transmitted to pets via mosquitoes. This devastating disease is extremely expensive and difficult to treat in dogs, and is almost always fatal in cats.
Intestinal parasites – Intestinal parasites such as hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm are easily picked up by our pets from feces, soil, and contact with infected animals. Many of these parasites can also be passed from pets to people. Thankfully, most monthly heartworm medications also include compounds to treat and prevent these common intestinal enemies.
The Importance Of Year-Round Prevention
Even though our winters are frigid here in Michigan, year-round pet parasite prevention is of vital importance. It only takes a day or two of temperatures above 50 degrees for mosquito eggs to hatch, and fleas can lie dormant all winter to awake as winter thaws. Fleas can be carried into your house not only on your pet but on your own shoes, then thrive in the warm temperatures inside our homes. Pests of all kinds can also be brought to Michigan via tourism at any time during the year.
What Else Can You Do To Protect Your Pets?
Besides a monthly parasite preventive, there are a variety of ways you can help to keep your pets safe and healthy:
- Fleas and ticks love hiding and laying eggs in tall grasses and weeds. Deter them by keeping your yard trimmed and weed-free.
- Because skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and other wildlife are sources of transmissible disease and parasites, it’s important to keep them away from your home if possible. Fencing, keeping bushes and weeds trimmed, and sealing any holes in siding, decks, etc., can help.
- Inspect your pet from head to toe after he or she has been outside. Remove any ticks embedded in your pet’s skin immediately.
- Bathe your pet regularly and keep him or her groomed to cut down on pests.
- Consider vaccinating for Lyme disease if your pet spends time outdoors in tick-infested areas. Vacuum your home weekly to deter eggs, larvae, and other pests from getting too comfortable in your carpets, rugs, or upholstery.
- Your pet’s bed can be a breeding ground for all things creepy-crawly, so make sure to launder your pet’s bedding in hot water on a regular basis.
Your trusted, family veterinarian should be your source for information on pet parasite preventives. If you have not started your pet on a monthly preventive schedule, or need to refill the medications, contact your veterinarian today.