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Southeastern Massachusetts Vet: Parasite Prevention for Pets

parasite-preventionOne of the most important things that you can do for your cat or dog is to provide them with proper parasite prevention. Whether that amounts to flea treatment or preventative medications for ticks, heartworm or other parasites that often plague pets, it is important to do whatever it takes to keep them protected. A lot of people mistakenly believe that indoor pets, such as cats that never go outdoors, are not susceptible to parasite problems. However, the truth is that many parasites can still find a way to get to indoor pets, so it is important to visit your Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian on a regular basis to get a check-up that includes a fecal exam for indoor cats and dogs to check for parasite infestations.

Fleas & Ticks
The two most well-known parasites that can affect domesticated animals are fleas and ticks. Fleas don’t just bite your pet, they are responsible for many different problems that can impact the health of your cat or dog. Parasite prevention for pets should include a flea treatment. Fleas cause skin conditions, such as flea allergy related dermatitis and a range of other itchy issues, but if pets ingest a flea, they can get tapeworms and other serious conditions. Ticks are well-known for carrying a wide range of diseases, such as Bartonellosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease and even tick paralysis. These diseases can be transferred to humans and other animals within the home.

A topical flea and tick product can be used to prevent infestations. Unfortunately, many pet owners think they only need to apply these products from the spring through the late fall. However, many Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian clinics are now recommending year-round treatment to ensure winter exposure to fleas and ticks does not lead to an infestation. Fleas and ticks can come in from other pets, humans and on clothing or shoes. They can also come from other infested animals, at the dog park, grooming service or pet sitting provider. All cats should be tested for infestation, including a fecal exam for indoor cats, who are still at-risk.

Heartworm
Most people have heard of heartworms, but don’t really know what they are or what they do. Heartworms are actual worms that live inside the heart, which is where they get their name. They are most commonly transferred to dogs and cats by mosquitoes. It was recently discovered that heartworm in cats was much more common than originally thought, so it is now recommended for cats to have heartworm tests each year just like dogs. This test does not just reveal heartworm, but is also helpful in identifying tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma.

Puppies and kittens can be tested for heartworm at your Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian on their one year exam. It takes approximately six months after being exposed to heartworm for the test to be positive. At the one year exam, puppies and kittens are often put on the parasite prevention for pets. In some regions, this testing and preventative is done much sooner, so make sure to contact your local vet in Dartmouth to find out what they recommend for your particular pet. Once you start on a prescription for parasite prevention for pets, it is best to stick with it, as recommended by your veterinarian.

Intestinal Worms
Both cats and dogs are also at-risk for intestinal worms. Some of the more common types of parasites that are seen in domesticated animals include roundworms, whipworms and hookworms. Puppies should have at least two fecal exams in their first year, as many animals acquire worms from their mothers while nursing or through the uterus. Adult dogs should have an annual fecal exam, but those who have had a problem with parasites should be checked more often.

An annual fecal exam for indoor cats to check for intestinal worms should be okay, unless they have had a problem with parasites. Outdoor cats should undergo what is known as periodic de-worming under the assumption that they have intestinal worms through hunting of rodents or other animals. Even if you don’t think that your cat has been exposed to anything that would cause her to acquire intestinal worms, it is best to get that annual fecal exam to make sure.

Visit Your Southeastern Massachusetts Veterinarian for Regular Check-Ups
Regardless if your pet spends all of its time indoors, mixes it between indoors and outdoors or is entirely an outdoor pet, it is important to ensure that you provide the proper tick and flea treatment, as well as other types of parasite prevention for pets. Not only will these preventative measures help keep your pet healthy and safe, but it will also save you money in the long run, as the treatment for these parasite-related diseases can be quite costly.

If you have any questions about parasite prevention for pets, or if you would like to schedule a fecal exam for indoor cats or outdoor dogs, give Anchor Animal Hospital In Dartmouth a call at 508-996-3731. Our team can help you schedule anything from a basic annual check-up to flea treatment, parasite testing or vaccinations. We also offer emergency vet services to residents within Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.