Parasite Prevention

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are virtually everywhere. Although they’re a bigger problem in certain parts of the country and at specific times of the year, no cat or dog is completely safe from them. Fortunately, many safe and highly effective products are available. Today, there’s no reason for any pet or owner to be bothered by these pests.

Beyond causing serious discomfort, fleas and ticks can carry diseases dangerous to both you and your pet. Fleas can carry tapeworm, which your pet can contract. If a pet is allergic, a flea bite can cause an intense reaction. Ticks can transmit serious diseases which can affect both your family and your pet.

There are numerous signs that indicate your pet may have fleas. Scratching may be a sign of fleas. Redness or oozing lesions on the skin can be signs of flea allergy dermatitis. Tiny black dots on your pet might be an indication of flea dirt, or flea feces, an obvious indication that there are fleas present on the pet. Even small bites on yourself, especially around the ankles, might be due to fleas.

Fleas are so common because they are reproductive marvels. A single female flea can lay as many as 30 eggs a day and can live and breed on your pet for up to 100 days. The eggs then fall and land in carpets and upholstery where they can lie dormant for up to 8 months. The best management techniques of flea-proofing your home include regularly vacuuming carpets, furniture, floors and areas where your pet sits or sleeps. You should also wash your pet’s bedding, toys, and towels weekly.

The good news is that these problems can be avoided by using parasite preventive products that are available at our hospital. Ask a veterinarian or staff member at Westfield Animal Hospital for which flea or tick product is best-suited for your pet.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease of dogs and cats. Mosquitoes spread the disease by injecting the parasite into your pet at the time of the bite.

Clinical symptoms of heartworm disease develop very slowly. Often symptoms are not noticeable until several years after the initial infection. Lack of energy and exercise intolerance are early symptoms. Coughing and difficulty breathing are both common symptoms. As the disease progresses, most dogs develop congestive heart failure. Dogs often collapse in the final stage of the disease. In cats, the symptoms of heartworm disease are similar to those of feline asthma. Some cats may exhibit no signs of the disease, while others may suddenly die.

Since heartworm is a serious and deadly disease, pets should be tested annually. In order to perform the test, a small amount of blood needs to be taken. The test for heartworm is very accurate and is a reliable method for diagnosing the disease.

Heartworm prevention is simple. Once-a-month heartworm preventive medication can be administered through chewable treats. Some are combined with other preventive medications. The medical staff at Westfield Animal Hospital can recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.