Prevent Parasites! Fleas, Ticks and Heartworm.

During the spring and summer months pets are more susceptible to getting parasitic infections. This can be for a variety of reasons: pets are spending more time outside, parasites can exist longer in the environment in warmer climates, and certain parasites (such as heartworm) are passed by hosts that can only survive in warm weather. The following is a brief description of each of these parasites.

Adult fleas are wingless insects, generally smaller than a sesame seed that feed on the blood of animals. Their enlarged hind legs give them an extraordinary jumping ability. Hanging on to your pet’s fur with their claws, their mouth parts bite through the skin to suck up blood.
Fleas spend much of their lifetime off the pet. They go through a life cycle that includes egg, larvae, pupae and adult stages. It is important to use a product that will prevent flea infestations by breaking the lifecycle of the flea. Pupae and eggs that exist in the environment can lie dormant for several months ready to develop into biting fleas under optimal environmental conditions. Ask our health care team to determine the best products for your pet.

Ticks are external skin parasites that attach to a host animal and feed off its blood.  Ticks can be found in various outdoor locations including parks, fields, and forested areas.  Ticks are dangerous because they may pass on diseases including: Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis.  The site where the tick attaches to a pet may become infected if the tick is not properly removed, and if the pet is irritated and scratching or licking the wound.
Testing is available to screen for tick-born diseases.  Some topical treatments are also available to prevent ticks from attaching.  Speak to your veterinarian to find out if your pet is at risk and what protection is available.

Canine heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal parasitic condition caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. Adult worms produce offspring called microfilariae, which circulate in the bloodstream and are ingested by mosquitoes that feed on an infected animal. The microfilariae undergo development in the mosquito and are then transmitted to another animal when that mosquito bites. Dogs are considered the most common host for heartworm, however heartworms may also infect coyotes, foxes, wolves, domestic cats, ferrets and even humans. If infection with heartworm is prolonged, damage to the heart and lungs, kidneys, liver, joints and eyes can occur.
There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection, including monthly topical treatments or oral medications. Preventive medications are extremely effective when given as prescribed. 
A blood test will be taken prior to dispensing preventive medications to ensure your pet is not already infected.

About the Author

Dr Elizabeth LaytonView all posts by Dr Elizabeth Layton
Dr Layton graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2005 and began work in mixed animal practice. Dr. Layton’s special interest is dentistry but she enjoys a variety of internal medicine and surgical cases.


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