Young or old, at some point in their lives, many pets experience discomfort caused by external parasites such as fleas, ticks, or mites on their skin or in their ears. Extremely irritating to pets, these pests can cause serious skin problems or even carry disease. Your veterinarian is your best source for advice regarding products and protocols for the prevention, control, and treatment of external parasites.
For external parasites, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests the following:
- Examine your pet during grooming or when returning from high-risk areas (e.g., dog parks, walks through forests or thick foliage)
- If your pet scratches, chews, or licks its coat, or shakes its head excessively, call us—these can be signs of infestation
- Prompt treatment reduces discomfort, helps prevent disease transmission, and limits the degree of home infestation
- Consult your veterinarian regarding the treatment of all pets to avoid infecting others
- Tell your veterinarian what remedies you have already used
- When treating cats, never use a product that is not approved for cats, as the results could be lethal
- Follow label directions carefully
- Consult an expert—your veterinarian offers technical expertise and can identify the most effective products that safely control these pests
It is important to remember that young puppies or kittens are especially sensitive to over-the-counter treatments; they should never be used on animals that are young or in poor health.
An important note on breed sensitivity to heartworm treatment products containing Ivermectin: Some dog breeds have been found to react to treatments containing Ivermectin, especially Collie and Shepherd breeds. View a complete list of breeds here. Sometimes these reactions can be quite serious or even fatal. Veterinarians at Washington State University have developed a test to determine whether your pet may be sensitive to these drugs. Read about this test or, if you are concerned, please speak to your veterinarian.
Healthy pets may not show outward signs of internal parasites, such as worms or Giardia, but changes in your pet’s appetite or coat, diarrhea, or excessive coughing can be strong indicators. In most cases, a simple fecal test can detect the presence of parasites and your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate program for treatment.
For internal parasites, the AVMA suggests the following:
- Call us if your pet has diarrhea, weight loss, increased scooting, a dull coat, or if you see worms under its tail, in its bedding, or on its stool
- Prompt treatment reduces discomfort, helps prevent intestinal damage and malnutrition, and limits the chance of infecting other pets or humans
- It is also very important to be aware that some diseases and parasites can be transmitted from your pet to your family. For example, your child could encounter hookworms when walking barefoot through grass or dirt where pets have defecated. The CDC offers detailed information about
animal diseases that can spread to humans
- You can help prevent the spread of infection through good hygiene and sanitation, and by cleaning up your pet’s droppings immediately
Never hesitate to call us regarding an infestation or concern over your pet’s well being. Your quick response may prevent this unsavory and unhealthy concern from becoming a serious health condition.
For additional information on parasite prevention or many other pet health issues, browse the AVMA website.