The health of your family pet is our number one priority at Bluestar Vet in Jacksonville, FL. Parasite control is a vital component of effective, preventative health care for your pet. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in both external and internal parasites which is a health risk for your pet and the humans around them. At Bluestar Vet, we recommend that all our pets be on year-round parasite prevention. Depending on the species, breed, and health of your pet, we can provide recommendations for specific prevention medications. In the following article, we share tips on effective parasite control for your pet.
The importance of parasite prevention and control
Many pets will encounter some sort of parasite in their lifetime and when treated, it’s rare to experience long-term effects. However, when parasites are left untreated, they have the potential to become a life-threatening condition for your pet.
The good news is that it’s easy to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to parasites. In addition to prevention medications and routine visits to the veterinarian, you should become familiar with how to monitor the health of your pet.
Keeping your pet safe isn’t just for their benefit, but also the humans in your family. If you have young children, this becomes especially important as they tend to show family pets the most attention. By knowing the signs of an infestation and instilling healthy practices such as frequent hand washing, you can keep your family and your pet safe.
Facts about parasites in pets
- Certain parasites in dogs and cats can spread to humans. Individuals with compromised immune systems such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women are especially susceptible.
- Cat feces can contain a parasite called toxoplasmosis that can be contracted by pregnant women and passed onto their unborn child. If pregnant, avoid cleaning out the cat’s litter tray.
- Hunting dogs and cats are at a higher risk of contracting parasites hosted by their prey.
- Very rarely will dogs and cats pass along parasites to each other because they are typically species-specific.
Tips for effectively controlling parasites
Year-round parasite control is the best way to prevent parasites from occurring. While these programs are very effective, there is still a chance of your pet contracting parasites. These prevention tips can help:
- Maintain yearly visits to your veterinarian and discuss a parasite control program based on your pet’s risk factors.
- Do not share products across species.
- Talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet any over the counter products.
- Make an appointment with the vet as soon as you notice symptoms of a parasite so that treatment can be started promptly.
Symptoms of parasites
Fleas – Itching and redness of the skin. Your pet will often be scratching incessantly and rubbing up against objects.
Ticks – Red, irritated patches of skin. The physical presence of brown or black ticks on the skin. Also, important to look for the signs of Lyme disease such as loss of appetite, lethargy, reduced personality, discomfort and pain.
Ear Mites– Head or neck scratching or brown discharge in the ear.
Heartworm – Lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, swollen belly.
Hookworm, Roundworm, Tapeworm, and Whipworm – There are often few signs of these infections, but pet owners should watch out for diarrhea, weight loss, distended abdomen, or blood in the feces.
Before we can treat the parasite, we must first determine the exact type of parasite that is infecting your pet. This is done through a stool sample. Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we can discuss the various medications available for treatment.
At Bluestar pet hospital in Jacksonville, FL, we want to keep your pets safe and healthy. During your pet’s regular visit, we will discuss options for year-round parasite control programs. We can cater these programs based upon the unique needs of your pet. For instance, if you take your pet hunting with you every weekend, your parasite control program will look different than a senior pet who only gets out for walks.