Summertime Suckers: Preventing Parasites this Season

If you’ve ever had to deal with parasites, you know how frustrating they can be. In fact, a recent survey of pet-care costs in 2013 found that treating parasite infestations in dogs and cats can cost up to six times more than using a preventative treatment!

Parasites are a year-round pest, but as the weather warms and our pets enjoy more outdoor time, their exposure to parasites increases.

Parasite Population Rises with the Temperature

There are a few parasites that like to show up more frequently in the summer: 

  • Fleas. They’re everywhere, especially in warmer climates. Fleas can enter the house on your dog or cat and you’ll have 1,000 in three weeks. Besides the itch and irritation, they can also spread tapeworms.
  • Ticks. These flat-bodied pests spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, among other infections. Check your pet’s coat daily if they’ve been in wooded or grassy areas. Consult your veterinarian for instructions on how to remove them.
  • Mosquitoes. Yes, they’re itchy and annoying, but they also count heartworm among the ailments they can spread to cats and dogs.

Almost Invisible

Dogs and cats are typically not big complainers, so pet owners may not always see the signs of parasitic infection. So what do you look for? 

Some worms can be seen in a close inspection of your pet’s stool, tapeworms (similar in appearance to grains of rice), or round worms (similar in appearance to tiny pieces of cooked spaghetti). Others, such as hookworms, are too small to see with the naked eye. 

Diarrhea, mucus or blood in the stool, changes in appetite, a dull coat, weight loss and signs of abdominal discomfort could be signs of parasites and should always be checked out by your veterinarian.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatments vary, depending on the type of disease or infestation. In some cases, medications can address the problem. In some serious worm infestations, your pet may require hospitalization, fluid therapy or blood transfusions. 

The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a set of guidelines for pet owners that include regular veterinary visits, regular bathing and inspections. Use deworming treatments  as recommended by your veterinarian.

Always partner with your vet to figure out the best form of preventative care for parasites to keep your pets happy and healthy. 

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