No pet owner likes to think about the possibility of their pet having parasites, but the truth is that these pesky organisms are a very common part of pet ownership. Parasites live either inside or on your pet’s body, drawing nutrients directly from them to survive. Some will limit their feeding purely to your animal, whilst some are less fussy and will spread to humans living in your home too if the opportunity arises. No parasitic infection is pleasant for your pet, and some can be deadly. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can keep them safe. Here’s what you need to know about parasite control for your pet.
Types of Parasite That Can Affect Your Pet
Before learning about how to protect your pet from parasites, you first need to be aware of which parasites pose a threat and what they mean for your pet. As we know, these can be split into two main varieties - internal and external parasites.
Internal parasites live inside your pet’s body, usually in the digestive tract. These are normally transmitted through contact with the feces of an infected animal which contains eggs or larvae of the specific parasite. Once these pass into your pet’s body, they can travel to the digestive tract where they mature and reproduce. Small amounts of the worm, plus eggs and larvae will end up being passed out through the bowel, where another animal can come into contact with them, spreading the parasites further. Some of the most common internal parasites are:
The one exception to the above is heartworms. These live inside the blood vessels of your pet’s heart and lungs where they multiply, clogging them and preventing normal blood flow. Heartworms are nearly always fatal if left untreated. Heartworms are spread by mosquitos, who carry larvae between hosts.
External parasites live on your pet’s skin and include mites, fleas, and ticks. None of these parasites is pleasant. Fleas are very common, microscopic, can reproduce very quickly and cause intense and severe itching for your pet, as well as putting them at risk of anemia if there is a large population present. They are also notoriously hard to eradicate from your home. Ticks are larger and visible to the naked eye. However, ticks are well known for carrying diseases including Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and more, all of which can make your pet very sick. Ticks can be removed fairly easily, but this must be done carefully to ensure contaminated blood doesn’t get onto yours or your pet’s skin.
The good news is that veterinary medicine has continued to evolve and there are now more treatments and preventatives available than ever before. One of the first things that it is important to mention is that early diagnosis and treatment are best wherever possible as this will limit the effects that the parasite has on your pet’s health and wellbeing. However, as with all things medical, prevention is far better than cure and if you commit to a robust preventative care plan, you could prevent your pet from ever suffering from parasites.
Types of parasite control
There are various different types of parasite control available, making it simple to find one that suits your pet. Some of the choices include:
Oral medications. These are usually pills or medication from capsules that you secrete in your pet’s food.
Topical treatments. These are applied to the outside of your pet’s body, normally directly onto the skin.
Collars. Collars release chemicals that repel certain types of parasites.
Injections. As their name suggests, this is where the medication is injected into your pet. The only preventatives currently available by injection are heartworm preventatives.
All preventatives, whichever you choose, are only effective for a period of time before another dose needs to be administered. In most cases, this is 30 days, but heartworm injections can protect your pet for six months or twelve months depending on the preventative that you choose.it is essential that you re-administer the next dose on time, otherwise your pet could be left vulnerable to being affected by a parasite – even if you are just a day or two late. If you aren’t sure which preventative is right for your pet, our team would be happy to help.
Parasite control should be a priority for any responsible pet owner. For more information about parasite control, please contact Harbor Veterinary Clinic in Ashtabula, OH by calling 440-969-6060.