5 Tips to Safeguard Your Pets from Pests

Pets, being naturally curious, can unknowingly expose themselves to harmful parasites and conditions while exploring their surroundings. Heartworm infections in dogs and cats have become increasingly prevalent, with 1 in 100 dogs and over 1 in 4 indoor cats testing positive for heartworm in 2022, as reported by the Companion Animal Parasite Council.

Both external parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites found outdoors, and internal parasites such as heartworms, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms can severely impact your pet’s health and well-being. These parasites can lead to various health issues, ranging from minor skin irritation to organ damage and even death if not treated promptly. Some parasites can also be transmitted to humans, underscoring the importance of prevention and early detection.

While prevention is key, timely treatment may be necessary in some cases. Consulting your veterinarian is vital to create a customized parasite control program based on your pet’s breed, age, behavior, and environment. Here are expert tips from VCA Animal Hospitals, which offer pet care services across North America, to help protect your pets from parasites:

  1. Provide Preventative Medications: Ensure your dogs and cats are on year-round parasite control programs tailored to their specific risk factors. These programs can address heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and more, and come in various forms like topical, injectable, and oral medications.
  2. Visit the Vet Annually: Regular yearly visits to the vet allow monitoring of your pet’s health and adjustment of their parasite control program when necessary. Your vet can inform you about the specific parasites prevalent in your area, how they spread, and recommend suitable preventative products. Modern and accurate parasite tests can also identify strains that may affect both pets and people.
  3. Watch for Warning Signs: Some infected pets may not display obvious signs of illness, but watch for symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, blood in stools, coughing, or difficulty breathing (indicative of heartworms). Excessive scratching, chewing, licking of coat or ears, and persistent head shaking also warrant veterinary attention.
  4. Regular Grooming: Regularly groom your pet or have them professionally groomed to reduce the risk of coat contamination and promptly identify fleas, ticks, and coat abnormalities. After outdoor play or interaction with other pets, inspect your pet thoroughly.
  5. Clean Up After Your Pet: Since many intestinal parasites spread through feces, promptly dispose of waste from your yard or pet’s litter box (within 24 hours) to minimize exposure and environmental contamination. Parasites can survive in the soil for extended periods, making proper waste disposal crucial.

For more comprehensive advice on parasite prevention and treatment, visit VCAhospitals.com.

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