Thinking of (Wishing for) Spring!!!
Are you and your pets ready for the warm months ahead?
Soon the weather will heat up outside and you will start thinking about mosquito repellant and citronella candles. However, are you also considering proper parasite protection for your pet? Insects such as mosquitos, ticks and fleas can be more than just a nuisance to your furry friends. These tiny insects can carry diseases – some even fatal. Here are the things you should know about why we highly recommend external parasite prevention!
Heartworm is a disease carried by mosquitos and can be deadly to your pet, yet is 100% preventable. For pets staying in Alberta the risk is negligible and we do not recommend routine prevention. However, for the many pets that travel outside of the province to warmer climates, heartworm prevention is usually a good idea (depending on the where and when of travel) The cost of monthly preventatives is much less than the cost of treating heartworm disease once your pet is already infected, which can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In addition to the cost, your pet suffers the health consequences from not being protected. As an added bonus, heartworm prevention medications also contain medications that treat intestinal parasites, some of which are transmittable to humans. So why not protect your pet, and yourself?
Ticks carry numerous diseases that are harmful to your pet’s health. Some of these diseases, such as lyme disease, anaplasmosis, rocky mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and bartonellosis can cause permanent health problems. Not only can ticks transmit these diseases to your pet, but they can also transmit them to you. Although ticks do not usually leave their food source (your pet), to find another food source (you), we would much rather be safe than sorry! In Alberta the risk of tick transmitted disease is not nearly as high as in warmer areas. However, we are all now more familiar with Lyme disease than we were a few years ago – that is because the number of ticks and the number of cases are on the rise. Ticks start feeding when the temperature rises above 4 C, which will probably happen in March (we hope). This year we at Park Veterinary Centre are recommending seven months of tick prevention for dogs at risk in Alberta starting in late March or early April.
Fleas are responsible for diseases such as cat scratch fever and tapeworm infestation. Many pets are hypersensitive to flea bites and just one bite can cause an allergic reaction. This type of reaction can result in your pet suffering from red, irritated skin, causing them to feel itchy and scratch repeatedly. Severe scratching can lead to skin infections and major discomfort.
Cats and dogs who are indoor only, are still exposed to insects and parasites that can make their way into your living space on other pets, people or through open doors and windows. Ferrets, rabbits, and other pocket pets are at risk for these parasites, as well.
How can you tell if your pet may be infected?
Signs of infection from these parasites can take months to appear and are not always obvious until the infection is severe. Changes in appetite, physical activity, water consumption, alertness and skin/ coat are causes for concern. If your pet has been exposed, it is important to treat the existence of any parasites as soon as possible and to have your pet tested if you are concerned about possible illness and disease.
What options are there for my pet’s parasite prevention?
There are numerous parasite prevention options available, which include: chewable tablets and/or soft-chews and topical liquids. Some of these preventatives can treat multiple types of parasites and some products can be given as little as 4 times per year.
It’s important to consult with your veterinarian at Park Veterinary Centre to determine which parasite preventatives are best for your pet and your household.
In this blog we focused only on external parasites. Internal parasites are also a growing concern for which we recommend regular prevention. Please give us a call if you have any questions about the parasite prevention recommendations we can tailor for your pet, and the medications that we carry. We are here to help!