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Keeping dogs, cats and other pets healthy is more than a matter of feeding them at the right time and making sure they get their yearly checkups. Proper pet care also means being aware of the dangers posed by parasites, and doing everything you can to minimize those dangers.
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host animal, consuming the food that is meant for the dog or cat … or sometimes even consuming parts of the animal itself. Cats and dogs can transmit parasitic infections both to one other and to your family, which makes it crucial you’re always up to date on parasite prevention.
There are many types of parasites. Among the most common are fleas, which bite and irritate dogs and cats and can cause allergic dermatitis, which may in turn cause excessive scratching or loss of fur. Fleas can also lead transmit tapeworms.
Heartworms are another common parasite, transmitted by mosquitoes and living in the lungs of cats and dogs. As the words grow up, they can cause heart disease and respiratory problems that may be life threatening. Other types of internal parasites include hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms and coccidian.
Good parasite prevention means watching for signs of infestation, which include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, listlessness and general appearance of ill health.
Although Edmonton is not crawling with dangerous insects, it has a high enough population that you should be concerned about parasite prevention. Ticks, for instance, prey upon dogs and cats in three out of four life stages, and are not as rare as we might hope (17 species at last count). Keeping pets safe from fleas and ticks through preventative care is very important.
While ticks are still fairly uncommon, you should still examine your animal’s fur for ticks after they’ve played in tall grass. Edmonton does harbor dangerous ticks, which can transmit diseases to your pets, so it pays to be careful. Note that ticks are also dangerous to you, so you should wear gloves to perform the examination and use tweezers to remove any insects you find on your pet. Once you have the tick in hand, wrap it in toilet paper and flush it down the toilet. Avoid burning or smashing, which can release infectious material.
Unfortunately, even knowing the signs doesn’t always guarantee you can recognize parasites in your pets. Edmonton South Animal Hospital can help detect parasites through microscopic analysis and prescribe a course of prevention and treatment. Many parasites, including heartworm, are preventable, so talk to the experts at South Animal Hospital about how best to keep your pets safe from parasites year-round.