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Parasite Control (Fleas, Ticks & Heartworms)

Parasites such as fleas and ticks can be very damaging to your pet’s health. Preventive measures should be taken year-round to inhibit potential outbreaks.

Close Up of Staff Holding Kitten Next to Medicine
Close Up of Staff Holding Kitten Next to Medicine

Overview

The idea of your pet being infested with parasites is a disturbing thought, but it’s also a medical issue that can have serious consequences. Parasites can diminish quality of life and even cause life-threatening health issues.

Common internal parasites include heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. The most frequent external parasites include fleas and ticks. Your pet should be free from parasites, both internal and external.

Why are parasites dangerous?

Fleas:

Fleas are small, wingless, brown, fast moving insects you can see in your pet’s fur. Some animals are allergic to the saliva of fleas, which can cause inflammation and more discomfort. If ingested while your pet is grooming themselves, fleas can transmit an intestinal parasite called tapeworm. Flea infestations can lead to anemia and fleas are also capable of transmitting serious diseases.

Ticks:

Ticks are members of the spider family and live in cracks and crevices in the home or outside in vegetation such as grassy meadows, woods, brush, and weeds. Some tick bites only cause mild irritation or swelling at the site, but other tick bites can infect your pet with serious illnesses. If left untreated, these diseases, such as lyme, can lead to more severe health problems or even be fatal.

Note: If you see a tick and cannot remove it, we will gladly help you. Call us immediately to limit the impact of the tick's attachment. It’s much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you. Make an appointment with us immediately to limit the impact of the tick.

Heartworm Disease:

Heartworms are transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your pet. Heartworms are parasites that live in the heart and its surrounding blood vessels. The adult heartworm produces offspring called microfilariae, which circulate in the pet’s blood. Unrecognized and untreated heartworm infections can be fatal.

When should I seek treatment for parasites?

Fleas:

If your pet is showing signs of fleas such as continuous scratching, gnawing or licking, schedule an appointment immediately. Additionally, flea dirt, the byproduct of fleas that looks like coffee grounds or pepper, can usually be seen by looking at your pet’s abdomen or by combing your pet’s coat with a fine-tooth comb.

Ticks:

If you see a tick on your pet, do not try and burn it off with a match. This does not work and could harm your pet. It’s much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you. Make an appointment with us immediately to limit the impact of the tick.

Heartworm Disease:

The best treatment for heartworms is prevention. One of the most common and effective prevention methods is a monthly oral medication.

The parasite is transmitted through mosquito bites and usually the pet shows no signs for months. Later symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, tiring easily and listlessness. In many cases pets do not show outward signs until advanced stages of the disease. An annual blood test is recommended to screen for heartworms. This disease can be treated if found early, but it can be costly.

How can I prevent parasites?

Our veterinary team is happy to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pet’s risk factors and health status. It is important to discuss with us yearly which pest control products are ideal for your household based on the everyday life of your pet.

What is a tick? Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of unlucky host animals such as our canine companions. Like mites and spiders, ticks are arachnids. The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), examples of ticks that commonly affect dogs, require three feedings to complete their life cycles.

How Are Ticks Transmitted to Dogs? Ticks are most active in from spring through fall and live in tall brush or grass, where they may attach to dogs playing on their turf. These parasites prefer to stay close to the head, neck, feet and ear area. In severe infestations, however, they can be found anywhere on a dog’s body.

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Ticks? Ticks are visible to the naked eye. During the warmer months, it’s a good idea to check your dog regularly for these parasites. If you do spot a tick, it is important to take care when removing it. Any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit infection to your dog or even to you! Treat the area with rubbing alcohol and pluck the parasite with tweezers, making sure you’ve gotten the biting head and other body parts. You can also stop by our office anytime and pick up a complimentary “tick twister” which is a great tool you can use to safely remove a tick. Since it may only take a few hours for disease to be transmitted from an attached tick, it is ideal for your dog to be evaluated by a veterinarian soon after any ticks are found.

Are Certain Dogs Prone to Ticks? Ticks can be found all over the world. But dogs who live in warm climates and certain wooded areas, where ticks are particularly prominent, might be more prone due to increased exposure.

What Are Some Complications Associated with Ticks in Dogs?

  • Tick paralysis

  • Skin irritation or infection

  • Anemia

Ticks can also transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, all of which can cause serious complications and are potentially fatal without prompt and proper treatment.

What can I do to prevent Ticks? The best way to protect your pet from Ticks is by using Tick prevention. There are many different products on the market today that help. Call and speak to a member of our healthcare team for a recommendation that is best for your pet.

Nexgard is a beef-flavored chewable tablet that is given once monthly. It is a safe and effective way to protect your dog.

Revolution is a topical solution applied directly to your pet skin once monthly. Revolution aids in tick control.

Please contact one of our clinics for more information on ticks and tick prevention.   ​One of our knowledgeable staff members would be glad to help you!