Protection from fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal worms is an essential part of your pet’s lifelong preventative care. These pests will always be around, and therefore be a constant threat. Fortunately, they can be kept at bay with the help of quality parasite preventatives, which we carry at our hospital. We offer treatments designed specifically for dogs and cats, with doses based on weight. In addition to preventatives, World of Animals Veterinary Hospital also strongly recommends annual parasite screens to check for signs of heartworms and intestinal worms. If needed, we can also administer parasite treatment for an existing infestation in your pet.
Common Heartworm FAQs
Heartworm disease is a disease in which heartworms mature and proliferate in the blood vessels around the heart and lungs. This condition can be life-threatening if it is left untreated. In extreme cases, a dog can have as many as 250 heartworms living in their body. The presence of heartworms can result in heart failure, lung disease, and other organ diseases.
Heartworms are nematodes transmitted to their hosts by mosquitoes. To clarify, not all mosquitoes are carriers of heartworm larvae, but they are the primary vector for heartworm disease spread among dogs and cats. When a mosquito ingests heartworm larvae from a host, they then pass the larvae to the next host when they take a blood meal. The larvae travel through the animal’s blood stream and mature in stages, eventually migrating to the blood vessels of the heart and lungs, where they grow into adult heartworms.
In the early stages of infection, dogs and cats may not show any outward sign of illness. But if the heartworms persist, symptoms will eventually become apparent, and they include:
- Mild cough
- Reluctance to exercise
- Fatigue after moderate activity
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Heartworm disease in cats is not as common as in dogs, but infection is possible. Unfortunately, if heartworms are able to mature in a cat, the cat will likely not survive. Also, there are no available heartworm treatments for cats.
Signs that may occur in a cat with heartworm disease include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Asthma attacks
The best line of defense against heartworm disease is heartworm preventative. Both dogs and cats should receive this treatment throughout the year for maximum protection. You can also try to limit your pet’s contact with mosquitoes, but this is not easy given the small size and elusive nature of mosquitoes.
Common Parasite FAQs
Intestinal parasites affect both dogs and cats, and typically include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and giardia. As you can expect, these pests take up residence in the intestines of animals, and may cause conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and poor coat quality in those infected.
Many puppies and kittens arrive at their first vet visit with worms in their systems. Some worms can be transmitted to puppies and kittens through nursing from their infected mothers. They can also be acquired via fecal-oral transmission, which is common among puppies and dogs that live in close proximity to one another.
It’s important to protect your pet from intestinal parasites, as they can make your pet very sick, and pass on their infestation to another dog or cat. We offer a variety of worm preventatives at our hospital, and we can also provide deworming treatment to your pet should they ever need it.
Fleas and ticks are notorious pests that make our skin crawl. Fleas can be a major pain to get rid of if your pet, and by extension your home, acquires an infestation. Ticks are a little less overwhelming for most pet owners to deal with, but they are no less loathsome.
Both of these pests are often carried into the home from outside, especially when pets and people spend time out in wooded areas with lots of brush and grass. But your pet (or you) can also pick up fleas and/or ticks by coming into contact with another pet. Because these parasites are so prevalent and sneaky, keeping your pet protected from infestations is paramount.
Signs your pet has fleas or ticks include:
- Scratching (indicates itching)
- Hair loss
- Skin infections
- Anemia (occurs in more serious cases)
Fleas and ticks are also capable of passing on other parasites or diseases to animals and people, including tapeworms (transmitted by fleas), Lyme disease (transmitted by deer ticks), Ehrlichiosis, and more.
Monthly flea and tick preventative is the single best way to keep your pet (and your house) pest-free. In fact, we recommend year-round protection against fleas and ticks, even during the winter months. This ensures consistent coverage for your pet, and maintains their protection going into the spring and summer seasons.