Last week at our weekly staff meeting, I was discussing some data that I had just received showing that only 50% of our canine patients are on heartworm prevention. This started a conversation about why this number is so low. I believe it’s because many people don’t understand the difference between heartworms and intestinal parasites. I decided to get the word out!
Intestinal parasites are exactly what the name implies; they are worms that live in the intestinal tract (heartworms are worms that live in the heart). Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasites in our geographical area.
Roundworms and hookworms are very common in puppies and kittens as they are transmitted from their mother while they are in the uterus or through the mother’s milk. The adult worms live in the intestinal tract most of their lives and produce microscopic eggs that pass in the feces. Did you know that one female roundworm can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day? Only under severe infestation or after deworming will you see adult worms passed in the stool. These two parasites can also be transmitted to people, especially children, as they are often less careful about hygiene, more likely to put their hands in their mouths and commonly play in potentially contaminated soil. A recent study revealed that 14% of the human population is infected with these parasites.
Tapeworms got their name because they are thin and flat, like strips of tape. A tapeworms body is made of jointed segments which detach and are seen around the pet’s rectum or in their stool and they look like rice segments. These segments cannot infect other cats or dogs. The only way that dogs and cats become infected is by eating an infected flea or rodent. Therefore, a flea eradication program is important to prevent further infestation.
There are many oral and some topical medications used to treat intestinal parasites. A few of these products are available over the counter and unfortunately, don’t work very well. Now to the main point of this entire article: I believe that many people go to the store and get dewormer for their pets and believe that they are also treating their pet for heartworms. Heartworm prevention is a prescription only medication, which means you must get it from your veterinarian. Heartworm prevention and medication to treat intestinal parasites are relatively inexpensive and prevent transmission to other animals and, most importantly, humans. Ask your veterinarian about the products that they recommend.
External parasites are a major problem for pets in Oklahoma during the summer months. I bet there are a few things in this article that you didn’t know. The main take away is to protect your pet so they don’t get sick.
Did you know that a single flea can bite your pet 400 times a day, drink more than its body weight in blood and produce hundreds of eggs each day? Besides causing skin and allergy issues, fleas can transmit tapeworms to your pet. When you see fleas on your pet, you only see 5% of their population. The other 95%, (consisting of eggs, larvae, and pupae) are living in the environment, such as your carpet, couch, and grass. Weather permitting, new adult fleas emerge every 2 weeks.
Ticks are not only disgusting but also dangerous. They can transmit several different blood parasites that can be life-threatening to you and your pet. Recently, a new tick-transmitted disease called Bobcat Fever has been discovered in our area. This illness is 100% fatal to cats. Did you know that when a tick bites your pet, the anesthetic in their saliva keeps the bite from hurting and contains an anticoagulant that keeps the blood flowing? Some life stages of the tick can be so small that they can be difficult to see.
Heartworms are transmitted from animal to animal via mosquitoes. Did you know that mosquitoes are the number one disease carrier to humans in the world and ticks are number two in the United States? Mosquitoes have a multitude of sensors designed to detect their prey – including heat, chemical, and visual sensors.
For you and your pet’s safety, strict control of external parasites is paramount. There are many products available, prescription and over the counter, that control flea, ticks, and mosquitoes. For successful treatment, all pets in the area need to be treated as well as the environment. Prescription products are typically more expensive but much more effective and last longer than over the counter products. If you have a cat, make sure the product is labeled for cats, as certain types can be life-threatening. If you are having problems controlling fleas and ticks, contact your veterinarian for advice.
There are 850 different species of ticks around the world. Ninety of these species reside within the United States. A handful of these species transmit diseases to humans and our pets. Dr. Anna Coffin will share some interesting facts about ticks and how you can protect you and your pet from these pesky creatures. Continue…
The use of essential oils in humans has exploded in the last few years. The use of essential oils for animals is now becoming common practice. Since flea season is right around the corner, Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss what essential oils are being used for flea control. Continue…
Warmer weather brings blossoms and blooms and unfortunately, bugs. March signals the beginning of flea and tick season and is the time to start taking preventive measures against fleas. Understanding the flea life cycle will help you eliminate them from your pets. Continue…
Warmer weather might be fun, but it also means more risk for dogs, cats, and humans. Ticks and mosquitoes are already here, and fleas will be appearing shortly. These pesky pests can transmit diseases to yourself and your furry friends. Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss these parasites and how to protect against fleas and ticks. Continue…
Heartworms are twelve-inch long worms that live in the heart of dogs. They are transmitted from one infected dog to another by mosquitoes. It is fifteen times more expensive to treat for heartworms than it is to prevent them, and missing one single dose of prevention can put your dog at risk to this deadly parasite.