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Parasite Prevention Month

Parasite Prevention Month
March 4, 2024

Spring is in the air—which means fleas and ticks are too. Having a prevention plan is the best approach when it comes to protecting your pet against deadly heartworms, intestinal parasites, and flea and tick infestations. Your veterinarian will help you find the product that is right for your pet based on his or her needs and your pet will thank you for keeping them safe and parasite-free.

What are parasites?
Parasites are organisms that feed on or within other animals. Fleas and ticks are the most well-known, but other common parasites include mites, lice, heartworms, and many other intestinal parasites. There are two categories of parasites—external and internal.

External Parasites: Fleas, Ticks, & Mites
Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid, although they can also be active in cooler weather. All cats and dogs are susceptible to flea infestations. Fleas can also transmit Bartonella Henslae, which causes "cat scratch fever" in humans. Fleas are prevalent in any climate setting. In drier areas, such as Arizona and Colorado, they can also transmit Yersinia pestis, which is the bacteria responsible for the Bubonic plague.

Beyond the skin irritation and discomfort, fleas can also cause:

  • deadly infestations
  • flea-allergy dermatitis
  • flea-related anemia
  • transmission of tapeworm parasites if ingested.

Ticks can spread serious infectious diseases such as:

  • Lyme
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Babesiosis

Pet owners should inspect their pets regularly for ticks, large and small, especially after being outside in wooded or grassy areas.

Ear and certain skin mites (scabies) are extremely contagious in cats and dogs (ear mites are mostly found in cats). Mites are passed from direct contact between animals. If there are multiple pets in one household, each one should be taken to the vet and checked for mites. Mites are not easily seen and the following symptoms could be a sign that your cat has mites:

  • Head-shaking,
  • Scratching at ears
  • A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation
  • Hair loss from excessive scratching

Left untreated, mites can lead to other serious secondary infections.

Internal Parasites: Intestinal Parasites & Heartworm
Intestinal parasites include:

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm 
  • Tapeworm
  • Whipworm 
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia 
  • Cryptosporidium 

All of these are common in cats and dogs and it is possible to transmit some of these parasites from pets to humans and can result in life-changing conditions such as blindness.

Mosquitoes can spread heartworm, a harmful disease that is predominantly found in dogs but can also affect cats. As its name implies, heartworm lives in the blood of a pet’s heart and blood vessels. We recommend annual screenings for dogs, even if they are already on heartworm preventatives, and talk to your veterinarian about heartworm preventatives for your cats.

Life is better for your pet and family without parasites. Let us help you choose your flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite preventatives. Call us today at (760) 727-7622

Palomar Animal Hospital