Parasite Prevention and Control
Parasites are not just a nuisance. They can carry serious diseases that can not only affect your pet's overall health, but yours as well.
Some parasites are easier to detect than others. Fleas and ticks can sometimes be easily visible on your pets. Other parasites, like those that thrive in your pet's intestinal tract or bloodstream, can only be seen under a microscope.
Topical parasites like fleas can be particularly offensive and difficult to get rid of. Through the ingestion of fleas a pet may develop tapeworms. Fleas are also capable of transmitting the Bartonella bacteria which can cause "cat-scratch fever" in humans. Many pets are allergic to flea bites which can cause skin irritation and hair loss. It is also possible, in severe infestations, for fleas to kill pets after progressively debilitating their health.
Ticks, another topical parasite, can easily be disposed of by pulling them off your pet or yourself. However, ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia; the symptoms of these diseases may be detected long after you pull the tick off your pet.
Intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms live and grow in your pet's intestinal tract. Most pets show no symptoms of infection, but occasionally adult worms can be visible in a pet's feces or vomitus. Typically, a diagnosis is made by examining a fecal sample under a microscope. These types of worms are transmitted by exposure or can be passed from a mother to its young. Our exposer to these types of worms through our pets can actually harm us as well. These worms are zoonotic; meaning they are transmissible to humans and can cause damage to our tissue and organ systems. Therefor, we recommend checking a fecal sample at your pet's annual visit.
Heartworm can affect both dogs and cats. It is carried by mosquitoes and transmitted through blood meals. Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries where they can cause severe damage. Some pets are capable of living for long periods of times before symptoms develop. Yearly heartworm checks are recommended to monitor a pet's health and the success of your prevention program. Heartworm disease can be fatal if not treated in its early stages.
It is fairly common for pets to contract parasites at some point in their lives, but luckily there are a variety of preventatives and treatments available. Veterinary examinations and parasite testing are important ways for us to protect your pet's health. We can help recommend which flea/ tick and heartworm preventatives are appropriate for your pet. We can suggest ways to identify, control, and eliminate parasites in your home. Your pet's health is of the upmost importance to us at High Point Animal Hospital, let us work together to keep your entire family protected from parasites.