Not only are parasites a danger to your pet, but they can spread to human members of the family, too. From fleas to ticks and heartworm, these creatures wreak havoc. That’s why, at the first sign of parasite infestation, it’s best to bring your cat or dog to receive parasite treatment to All Creatures Veterinary Clinic to receive proper parasite treatment.
We’ll now explain how to prevent and control parasites.
Fleas: Itchy and uncomfortable, fleas are incredibly small. Not only that, but they like to burrow deep within the fur of an animal. Pets may be mostly asymptomatic, too, only scratching a bit more than usual.
It can be nearly impossible for the untrained eye to find fleas in a pet. If you suspect your pet may have fleas, bring them into a vet immediately before these creatures spread.
We have noticed that the Omaha area has a flea season that is extending much longer into the fall and winter than ever before. Fleas have always been a potential disease carrier, as they are responsible for transmitting tapeworms, Hemobartonella, (a parasite that infects blood cells), and other diseases.
Most people think of itchy cats and dogs, when they think about fleas. This is usually due to a pet’s hypersensitive allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva when the flea bites them. August to early November are prime times for seeing fleas in our patients at All Creatures. In the last 2 years, we have diagnosed patients with fleas on a daily basis throughout September and October. We have even found a few cats and dogs with fleas as late as Christmastime!
When you use an insecticide, be careful the product is labeled for the particular animal. Some dog products can be very toxic if accidentally used on a cat. Many premise sprays or flea bombs for the inside of the home or apartment, should NOT be used if reptiles, birds, or small mammals are present. Instead, make arrangements to remove them from the home temporarily. Fish tanks also need to be covered/protected from flea premise sprays or flea ‘bombs’. Contact one of our veterinarians at All Creatures Veterinary clinic to learn more.
Ticks: Ticks are also microscopic. It’s only when the infestation has progressed will symptoms manifest. In rare cases , a pet may have tick paralysis. Tick paralysis may develop slowly, with clinical signs including hind leg weakness, progressive paralysis, vomiting, and lethargy. Tick paralysis is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary care.
Ticks are responsible for more than just Tick Paralysis. We are seeing an increase in the tick population over the past 5 years. In Omaha, this is partly related to an increase in wild turkey and deer populations in the metro area. Did you know that ticks are active at 31.F?
Ticks are moving to new regions around the country, due to wildlife migration and more pet/human travel between states. We have ticks such as the Lone Star tick moving northwards (out of Texas), and carrying diseases that have not been seen in Omaha before. We are seeing more cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme’s disease, Tularemia and Erlichia in our state. These are diseases that can affect both humans and our pets. These diseases are transmitted by the bite of a tick. Did you know, that 1 tick could be a carrier of more than 1 disease? This means a dog (or human) could potentially get infected with 3 different illnesses from 1 single tick!
Besides using a regular tick preventative every month, make sure you check your dog for ticks, after a walk in the woods or fields. To avoid getting sick, use tweezers to remove the tick, not your bare fingers! Most tick products are very effective. However, a product that works to repel 49 out of 50 ticks, may not kill every tick immediately. This leaves a potential for a tick bite transmitted illness. Unfortunately, at this time, no manufacturer of any tick preventative or tick collar will claim the ability to prevent tick bite transmitted disease. They only claim to lessen the chances of transmission
Heartworm: Although it’s more common in dogs, cats can get heartworm, too. This parasite is spread by mosquito bites.
At first, your pet will appear fine if they have heartworm disease. Over time, you may notice your pet seems more lethargic and then develops a cough. A heartworm infection can progress to life-threatening heart failure. To prevent heartworm disease from worsening, take your pet to the vet at the first sign of trouble. Keep your dogs and outdoor cats on year-round heart worm prevention.
To prevent another instance of parasite re-infestation, talk to your NE vet. They will suggest the following measures for the long-term health of your pet:
- Watch where you walk your dog or let your cat wander outside to avoid fleas and ticks.
- Keep mosquitos away from your pet when outdoors.
- Take your pet in for regular veterinary exams to detect the early signs of parasite infestation.
- Get your pet on flea, tick, and heartworm control medication. This medication can be administered at home throughout the year. Keep your prescription up-to-date.
Cats and dogs can get intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms. We ask you to bring in a fresh fecal or stool sample with every new puppy or kitten, and annually for your adult pet. Many pet owners are unaware that humans can become infected with intestinal parasites such as hookworms or roundworms from their pets. Good hygiene and handwashing are key preventions, especially when young children are around family pets.
We follow the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for parasite prevention. This means that at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic, we recommend twice-yearly preventative deworming in adult cats and dogs, and a series of deworming in puppies and kittens at the same time as their vaccine series. If we positively identify parasites or eggs in your pet’s fecal sample, we will recommend specific parasite control.
Talk to your veterinarian at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic or call (402)399-8224. The staff and veterinarians are knowledgeable about pet parasites and can answer your questions.
Exotic Pets and Parasites:
Reptiles– often carry a variety of intestinal parasites. You may be asked to bring in a fresh stool sample at the time of examination of your reptile. Your All Creatures veterinarian can identify the fecal parasite eggs and determine proper parasite treatment for your reptile.
Rabbits and kittens share a common parasite problem, they both can be plagued by ear mites. It is a very treatable condition in either species, after your All Creatures veterinarian has made the proper diagnosis.
Did you know that rabbits & guinea pigs can also get skin parasites? The Cheyletiella skin mite causes a skin disease called ‘walking dandruff’. It makes both rabbits and guinea pigs very itchy, and in severe cases causes hair loss, scabbing and excessive skin flaking. The good news is that your All Creatures veterinarians are able to successfully treat your small furry pets, and rid them of their ‘walking dandruff’!
To prevent another instance of parasite re-infestation, talk to your All Creatures vet. They will suggest the following measures..
*Avoid tall grass and bushes, when walking your dog, to help avoid fleas and ticks.
*Eliminate standing water- puddles, containers to decrease mosquito breeding grounds
*Take your pet in for a regular visit
*Get your cat or dog on flea, tick, and heart worm
To learn more or schedule an appointment today, give us a call at 409-399-8224. You can also visit us at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic on 8626 Frederick Street.