Fleas, Ticks, and Intestinal Parasites….Oh my!

Waif alum Patrick is all smiles because he’s protected against harmful insects!

As a pet owner, you’re probably aware of the harmful effects of creepy crawly critters can have on your animals. We’ve answered some common questions about keeping your furry friends happy and healthy!

Q: What are heartworms? How do I prevent them?

A:  Heartworm disease is caused by long worms (heartworms) that live in an animal’s body. The can live in the heart, lungs, and surrounding vessels. Heartworms are spread via mosquito bites. Warmer climates experience an increase in mosquitoes and consequently, heartworms. Southern states unfortunately see more cases than the rest of the country.

When a mosquito bites an infected dog, they then carry microfilariae (heartworm offspring). When that mosquito bites another dog, they’ve then transmitted through the wound. Without a heartworm preventative, the heartworms have the chance to develop and cause devastating health effects.

Prevention is your best friend and is relatively affordable compared to the cost of treating a dog who becomes heartworm positive. Prevention comes in many forms. The FDA has approved a number of products to keep your furry friend safe. For shelter animals, Wayside Waifs uses Advantage Multi, a topical preventative. Advantage Multi is applied to an animal on a monthly basis and protects against fleas, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. It is recommended to have your dog tested for heartworms annually. Most times, a vet clinic can do this test during your visit.

The average cost of a monthly dose is only around $15, depending on the weight of the animal. A complete heartworm treatment can cost anywhere between $400-$1000. While it’s a financial strain for you, the physical impact on your furry friend is much harder. A dog battling heartworm disease can experience coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing and issues with major organs, like the heart and lungs.

Q: What about my cat? Can he get heartworms?

A: Yes, your cat can also get heartworms from an infected mosquito. They are less susceptible than a dog because a heartworm doesn’t thrive in their body. Heartworms do not live as long and do not grow like they do in dogs. Though cats are much smaller than dogs, a few worms inside a cat would be considered a heavy infection.

While we know cats are less susceptible to heartworms, we know this isn’t the case with fleas or intestinal parasites. A preventative like Advantage Multi will keep them safe from all of these, for a relatively low cost.

Q: Do I need to use flea and tick prevention year-round?

A: YES! Fleas can still stick around when temperatures drop. They can keep warm on your furry friend. Yuck! Flea eggs can stay on your carpeting and furniture and develop in the temperate environment.

Ticks don’t necessarily die when we see winter’s first frost. Wildlife around us can carry these pesky bugs. Ticks aren’t picky about their host. They’re happy to latch onto you as well.

A Seresto collar provides up to 8 months of protection from ticks. They’re available for both dogs and cats!

A Seresto collar is an effective way to keep ticks at bay!

Q: What’s the deal with intestinal parasites?

A: Intestinal parasites live inside your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and can include a wide variety of worms. Bleh! These are usually transmitted via an inadvertent ingestion of eggs or spores in contaminated water, soil, or feces. Tapeworms are common and usually occur when an animal eats a contaminated flea. Any parasite can have harmful effects on your pet. Weight loss, diarrhea and malnutrition are just a few. Prevention is easy! Ask your vet about different prevention products! *Please note: Preventative meant for dogs can be fatal to a cat. Please ensure you’re using the correct product for your critter!

Utilizing a prevention product can save you money and heartache down the line. Your furry friend will thank you!

You can find these products and more at Whiskers and Wags, located inside Wayside Waifs!

As always, if you have any concerns about your pet’s health, contact your personal veterinarian!  


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