Parasite Prevention

Flea Prevention and Control

parasite prevention

A simple way you can help keep your pet healthy is by protecting him or her against parasites. Heartworms, fleas, ticks, and other internal and external parasites are much more than just pests; they can cause life-threatening conditions in your pet—and cause severe, potentially fatal, health problems for you and your family. We recommend the best preventive regimen for your pet, based on lifestyle and risk factors. We also provide expert advice on keeping your whole household safe from parasitic infection. Protect your pet and your family by setting up a time to meet with us to discuss parasite prevention.

Heartworm Prevention

When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. And those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog or cat. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.

Although often thought to not be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.

Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention—and it can kill your dog. There is no approved treatment for cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. And even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to keep your dog or cat safe by administering heartworm preventives. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. We can recommend the best regimen of prevention for your pet.

Tick Prevention

tick prevention
Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in Michigan and the Rockford area. Anywhere a clump of long grass, leaf litter or mulch is located, ticks can be found. These parasites are not just a nuisance; they can cause serious—and sometimes deadly—diseases, including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted-Fever, Babesiosis, and Tick Paralysis.

All pets that go outside have a risk of tick exposure even if they are in a mowed yard, for just a few minutes. Also, ticks are active during all seasons of the year, including winter months. So, the first step to keeping pets safe from ticks is to use protection year-round. The next step is equally important. It is difficult to kill ticks and most products will take 6 to 24 hours to kill them. During that time, a tick could be feeding and passing on disease. Cats are resistant to tick borne diseases, so killing the tick is our goal. However, a dog can become infected with a tick-borne disease within a few hours after a tick begins to feed. So, we need to use a product on them that stops a tick from biting while it kills them. This feature is called repellency and not many products do this. If you are not sure the product you are using repels tick bites and kills them, we would be happy to advise you.

Since ticks can hide easily under your pet’s fur, we recommend checking your pet for ticks every time they come in from outdoors. If you find one attached, pull it off with a tick removing tool (available at most pet supply stores) or use tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it off. Clean the skin with hydrogen peroxide. The wound will heal in 7 to 10 days. Do not try to burn the tick off or apply nail polish to the tick. These activities will not remove the tick and might injure your pet. Once a tick is removed from a pet, take care not to touch it directly as most tick-borne diseases can pass to people. Place it between paper towels and crush the tick with your shoe or other firm object to kill it. Then discard it in the garbage.

Infection with a tick-borne disease may not cause symptoms right away and they can be very subtle. If you find a tick has been feeding on your dog, you should monitor him/her for joint pain, trouble breathing, fever, weakness, and loss of appetite, weight, energy or coordination. However, whether your dog develops symptoms or not, we can perform blood tests to see if a tick-borne disease is present. If any are found, your dog can be treated with antibiotics. Even if you have never found a tick on your dog, we recommend testing annually for the three most common tick-borne diseases (Lyme, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma) when heartworm testing is done. This catches infections we might otherwise miss.

Besides tick protection products and checking for ticks, we also recommend vaccinating your dog against Lyme disease. That way, if a tick bites your dog, they will have the ability to fight off this bacterial disease.