TRIGGER WARNING! Blood, parasites
Let's talk about parasite preventatives. A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism (also known as a host) that benefits by obtaining nutrients at the host's expense. These parasites can and will cause other health-related issues, illnesses, and diseases if untreated. Let's just set the record straight; your dog should be on three main preventatives; flea, tick, and heartworm. These preventatives should be used YEAR ROUND and is usually a monthly dosage. Like all medications, parasite preventative can cause side effects and should be consulted by your vet.
Let's start with Fleas. A flea is a small flightless insect that feeds on the blood of mammals and birds. They should be easy to spot during an inspection and will be located on the skin. Common behaviors of a flea infestation are excessive itching, licking, or shaking. Fleas are the most common parasite seen on our pets and can be quite a pain to get rid of. Dogs with fleas should be kept away from other animals, children, and carpeted or cloth areas. If you notice your dog has fleas, you should treat them immediately. Start by giving your dog (or cat) a bath with regular Dawn dish soap, make sure you get down to the skin. You will notice the fleas drop off of your pet and go down the drain. Second call your vet and have them get your pet on a flea preventative. This will ensure to kill live fleas and any larvae. Just a reminder flea and tick shampoos ARE NOT A PREVENTATIVE and do not prevent your pet from being re-infested.
Ticks. Nasty little buggers aren't they? A tick is an external parasite that feeds on the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. There are a few different species of ticks, most of which are local to our area. Ticks are most commonly found in tall grasses or wooded areas, however, this does not mean that your backyard is safe! You should be checking for ticks after your dog comes in from being outdoors regardless of being on a preventative. Ticks are very good hiders and some are so small that they are easy to miss. If you notice a tick on your furry friend, take a pair of clean tweezers or hemostats and a small bowl filled with one part water and one part rubbing alcohol. Firmly grab the tick at the base of the skin and gently pull out the embedded tick (making sure the head of the tick is still attached to its body), then place the tick into the water and alcohol mixture. Lastly, clean the area with an alcohol wipe. If the head of the tick is still embedded into the dog's skin DO NOT try and remove it unless it is easily removable. Watch for signs of infection such as; fever, reduced appetite, swollen lymph nodes, swollen or painful joints, or a skin rash around the removal site. If any of these occur call your vet immediately!
Last but not least, let's talk about Heartworms. Heartworms are small thread-like parasitic round worm spread by mosquitoes and house themselves in the heart of your pet, literally. In order to get heartworm preventative a negative blood test must occur. These worms are difficult to get rid of and will result in death if left untreated. Heartworm treatment consists of several doses and can take up to 4-6 months and requires strict kennel rest. DO NOT give heartworm preventative if your dog is heartworm positive. Heartworms can affect your pet at any age. Symptoms of Heartworms include Hacking/coughing, shortness of breath, acting lethargic or reluctant to exercise, reduced appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. Contact your vet immediately and if after hours get to your nearest emergency vet. For more information check out https://www.heartwormsociety.org/heartworm-positive-dogs#:~:text=No%20one%20wants%20to%20hear,of%20treatment%20to%20a%20minimum.
Remember we are not a vet and recommend you consult with your primary veterinarian when getting your furbaby on preventatives. Also please remember if your dog is sick, injured, pregnant, or has an infestation of any sort of parasite or infection PLEASE do not attend your appointment, give a call and we can get you rescheduled!