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By Nancy Turner, DVM on behalf of Highland Park Animal Hospital, Vickery Place Animal Hospital, and the Canine Country Club and Wellness Center
Spring is just around the corner, and not only is it my favorite time of the year, it is also a bug’s favorite time of the year. With the warmer temperatures, everyone is outside more often and those creepy crawlies are much more active! Protect your pet (and the humans in your household) with a comprehensive parasite protection plan! Here are the top 5 reasons why protecting your pet should be at the top of your “Spring is here” Check List.
1) Fleas and ticks are gross.
Yes, this is probably an understatement. Not only are fleas and ticks just really ugly to look at, they also carry some significant diseases. Cat Scratch Fever and Plague need fleas to spread the disease. Ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and other harmful diseases. In addition to disease risk, flea allergy dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin caused by a reaction to flea saliva, is the most common skin disease in pets. One flea bite can often cause a severe allergic reaction causing lots of scratching, inflamed skin and often a secondary skin infection. All of this can make your pet very uncomfortable and lead to an otherwise avoidable trip to our office. By protecting your pet against these gross guys, you are also protecting your house and your family.
2) Heartworms are real and very dangerous.
I once had a client tell me that they “didn’t believe in heartworms.” I was shocked. The word “believe” means “having faith in the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right” (I got that from dictionary.com). It suggests that some element of faith must be used to reach a conclusion. I have seen a heartworm, I have seen their larvae…I know that they exist. North Texas has one of the highest concentrations of heartworm disease in the country. Heartworms are spread by mosquitos and affect both dogs and cats. They cause significant damage to the heart and lungs and can cause death. The treatment for heartworm disease is very expensive and difficult in dogs, and there is no treatment available in cats. That’s right; I said we have NO treatment for heartworm disease in cats. Even if your cat spends all her time indoors, she is still at risk. Have you ever been bitten by a mosquito while inside? I thought so. All it takes is one bite to cause significant illness in your pet. Wouldn’t you want to prevent that if you could?
3) Intestinal parasites can infect people, too.
In addition to causing significant diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats, there are intestinal parasites that can also infect people. I don’t want to gross you out too much, so I won’t go into detail, but I put a link to the CDC pages on hookworms and roundworms below. So if you want to check it out go for it. If you have children, please check the pages out. They are often the ones most commonly affected by these parasites. Monthly deworming, which is included in the monthly heartworm preventatives we recommend can help protect your pet and your family from these parasites.
4) Prevention is safe and effective.
Okay, that may not be entirely true. Here is the deal. Not all products are safe and effective. Many of the over the counter products that you can find at the grocery or pet store use very outdated and unsafe chemicals. They have very little efficacy and can be very harmful to your dog or cat. I have seen seizures and tremors after some of these products have been applied. Most flea and tick shampoos have no residual activity. As soon as you wash the shampoo off your pet the bugs can get right back on. But don’t worry!! There are products that are safe AND effective, and we can help you pick the right product for your pet’s risk and your family’s lifestyle. We take into consideration all sorts of things like travel, children, and possible exposure before recommending any parasite prevention. We want to tailor your pet’s parasite prevention as individually as possible so please share with us any questions or concerns you may have. Another great thing is that now there are many products that get most of these bugs in one easy to give medication. There are topical and oral medications that prevent or kill fleas, heartworms, and common intestinal parasites! So it is super easy to protect your pet! Two more important points; one, please call us before giving or applying ANY product to your pet. It may be great, but it may not, and that is what we are here for! And two, all of these products MUST be used as directed. Don’t use your dog meds on your cat or your 50 pound dog meds on your 20 pound dog. You may be laughing that I would even mention it, but trust me, it happens. So, I guess I should have said: Veterinary Approved Prevention is Safe and Effective When Used Correctly.
5) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I am not sure exactly how this works in dollars and cents; but just to guess, I would say it was closer to a cent of prevention is worth $1 of cure. That’s a pretty good return, right? Seriously, preventing fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites can help you save huge on a yearly basis. In addition to avoiding the diarrhea, vomiting, itching, scratching, anemia, and heart disease that some of the above mentioned bugs can cause, you are also avoiding the cost to treat all of those things! Granted, there are other diseases that can cause these issues, but if you can prevent a few of the major players, that decreases your chances right? There are also great options now in the area of pet insurance, and lots of these plans help cover annual preventatives like heartworm and flea and tick control.
Spring is a great time of year. Don’t get stuck inside worrying about your pet bringing in some creepy, crawly thing! Protect your pet and your household by using a comprehensive, safe, veterinary approved parasite prevention protocol. Call us today and ask to talk to one of our veterinarians about a parasite protection program tailored for your pet. Let us help you and your pet get ready for Spring!!
Companion Animal Parasite Council: http://www.capcvet.org/
American Heartworm Society: http://www.heartwormsociety.org/