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Parasite Prevention

Parasites do not always cause external symptoms, making

ANNUAL TESTING

and monthly preventative measures imperative.

INTESTINAL PARASITES

Most commonly, intestinal parasites include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and giardia. All are very common in our area. In most instances, these parasites do not cause external symptoms in pets, making biannual testing and monthly preventative measures imperative. In people, these parasites are not as well tolerated and can lead to serious diseases. Treating and preventing infestations are paramount.

EXTERNAL PARASITES - FLEAS AND TICKS

Fleas and ticks are common external parasites of dogs, cats, and other mammals. They can be transmitted from animal to animal as well as through the environment. Many pets are exposed to fleas and ticks outdoors in yards, patios, dog parks or on walks. Humans can even bring fleas into their homes on their shoes and clothing. These parasites cause itching, hair loss, allergies, anemia, and skin infection. They can also transmit other parasites, such as tapeworms, and serious diseases, such as Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. Pets living in Colorado should be on flea and tick prevention year-round. REMEMBER: The key to preventing fleas and ticks is adhering to a monthly, veterinarian-prescribed parasite prevention program. Without consistent attention, your pet will be susceptible to fleas. A flea problem for your pet means a flea problem in your home. Understanding the flea life cycle and methods for its control can be a daunting task. Our staff will gladly assist you in this process. We can inform you of safe, effective flea prevention methods and, if necessary, flea treatment.

HEARTWORMS

Heartworms are common and potentially deadly parasites that affect both dogs and cats. Transmitted by mosquitoes, they are very common in Colorado and the surrounding states. Symptoms include coughing, aversion to exercise, lethargy and sudden death. Prevention and early detection are key when it comes to combating the serious disease caused by heartworms.

Common Heartworm FAQs

Heartworms are a parasitic roundworm that certainly do not belong inside our pets. Pets may show no clinical signs in the beginning stages, however, they will become more obviously ill as it progresses. Pets may begin to show decreased appetite, weight loss, and eventually breathing problems and heart failure. 

The short answer is mosquitoes. Not all mosquitoes carry heartworm, but once a mosquito has bitten a heartworm positive animal, it can spread to the animal that it feeds on. Many times, a mosquito may feed on the blood of a coyote, feral cat, or other wildlife. Which is why our pets need continuous preventatives, as carrier mosquitoes could increase at any time.

The good news is that our pets don’t directly spread heartworms to one another. However, if one of your pets has heartworms, it could be a carrier and potential source of infection to other pets in the house. That said, it’s important to have all pets tested and covered by routine care.

Yes, both cats and dogs can be infected by heartworm.

In the early stages, many dogs may have no symptoms. However, the longer the infection persists, the more likely you’ll see your pup develop symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:

  • Mild cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Much like with dogs, symptoms for heartworm in cats can be severe or nearly noticeable. Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

There are a few ways that heartworms can be detected and diagnosed. 

The first way to diagnose heartworm is through blood testing. This is the most common way, as the blood test is a simple evaluation for a toxin (heartworm antigen) that stimulates an immune response. 

Sometimes an infection with only a few heartworms will not produce a positive blood test because the infection isn’t producing a significant amount of antigen. Ultimately, the blood test could take many more steps, such as CBC, thyroid, and other testing to produce an accurate result. 

Other forms of testing include radiographs (x-rays), or echocardiograms.

The short answer: PREVENTION! PREVENTION! PREVENTION! 

There are a few things that you can do to keep mosquitoes away from your pets, such as using screens or keeping windows and doors closed or limiting any stagnant water, the most effective option is keeping up to date on preventative. 

Once your pet has been tested and proven negative, you can start your pet on either monthly medication or for even easier prevention with dogs, consider getting a PH-12 injection for 12 months of coverage.

No, heartworms do not have the ability to live in humans. People can still be infected with heartworm through the bite of an infected mosquito, but the parasite is not able to survive in the human bloodstream. 

What do you know about parasites?

Quiz
Heartworm disease is a threat to pets nationwide.
This is not correct. Heartworm has been diagnosed in all 50 states.
Correct! Heartworm has been diagnosed in all 50 states.
My dog can get heartworm from playing with another dog that has heartworm.
Correct! Heartworms can only be spread between pets through the bite of a mosquito.
This is not correct. Heartworms can only be spread between pets through the bite of a mosquito.
My cat isn't at risk for heartworm if they are an indoor cat.
This is not correct. 25% of infected cats were found to be considered "indoor" cats. Mosquito bites don't just happen outside of the house!
Correct! 25% of infected cats were found to be considered "indoor" cats. Mosquito bites don't just happen outside of the house!
Fleas and ticks are active during all seasons.
Correct! A common misconception is that fleas and ticks are inactive during fall and winter when they are actually active year-round.
This is not correct. A common misconception is that fleas and ticks are inactive during fall and winter when they are actually active year-round.
Fleas and ticks can be found in virtually every region of the US.
This is not correct. Living in a particular climate or region does not mean your pet has no risk of contracting fleas and ticks. Make sure your pet is protected!
Correct! Living in a particular climate or region does not mean your pet has no risk of contracting fleas and ticks. Make sure your pet is protected!
Itching is the only symptom of fleas and ticks.
This is not correct. Fleas and ticks can also carry a variety of diseases that could lead to health problems for your pet.
Correct! Fleas and ticks can also carry a variety of diseases that could lead to health problems for your pet.

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