Parasites including heartworms, fleas, and ticks will always be a health risk for your pet, which is why Veazie Veterinary Clinic recommends year-round heartworm, flea, and tick prevention here in Bangor, Me. Our animal hospital offers various high-quality parasite preventatives for dogs and cats to prevent infestations and the spread of parasite-borne diseases. In addition to preventatives, we also recommend annual parasite screenings to check for signs of heartworms, intestinal worms, Lyme disease, and Ehrlichiosis.
Intestinal parasites, generally referred to as worms, come in several types. At Veazie Vet, we often see roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and giardia. Giardia is often found in standing water, but intestinal worms are also shed in the stool of infected animals (like other dogs or cats), and their eggs can be tracked into the house by unsuspecting pets and humans alike. You can take steps to reduce your family’s exposure to worms, but prevention for your pet is critical. Whether they spend time outdoors or not, your dog or cat could still be at risk of infection, and your human family members can be, too. Year-round, monthly worm preventatives are a must for both canines and felines.
External parasites, or parasites that live on a pet’s skin, include fleas, ticks, and mites. Fleas and ticks are the most common threat, and they can easily hitch a ride on your pet or on your clothing and invade your home. In addition to being a major nuisance, fleas can cause an allergic reaction in your pet, which may include itchy skin, hair loss, and a skin infection. Some fleas may also transmit tapeworms.
Ticks, while often not as overwhelming as fleas, are a problem in their own right due to their ability to spread harmful diseases. The most common diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Dogs that are likely to come into contact with deer ticks (the prime vectors for Lyme disease) should be vaccinated for Lyme. Your vet can help you decide whether this vaccine is necessary for your pet.
As with intestinal worms, external parasites like fleas and ticks are best kept at bay with a monthly flea and tick preventative. Reversing an infestation can be time-consuming and frustrating, so prevention is key to keeping your pet healthy and maintaining a safe, comfortable environment for them and your family.
Heartworms are a type of roundworm that can grow up to 12 inches long. As their name indicates, heartworms live in and around the blood vessels and arteries of the heart and lungs. Without treatment, heartworm disease can be fatal. Symptoms of infection, which may take months to appear, generally include coughing, fatigue, exercise intolerance, lethargy, and possibly sudden death. Heartworm prevention is essential for all dogs and cats.
Parasite Preventatives We Offer to Dogs and Cats in Bangor, ME
See a list of available parasite preventatives we offer to both dogs and cats below:
Heartworm disease is the name for the condition in which heartworms enter your pet’s bloodstream and take up residence in and around the heart and lungs. If heartworm disease is not diagnosed and treated soon enough in your dog, it can be fatal. This is because the heartworms in your pet’s body will grow and proliferate, and gradually block the arteries that allow blood to travel to and from the heart.
Heartworm disease is primarily spread by mosquitoes, though not all mosquitoes are infected and capable of passing heartworms on to your pet. When a mosquito takes a blood meal from a heartworm-infected animal, the mosquito itself becomes a carrier for heartworm larvae. If this same mosquito then bites your pet, they will pass the larvae into your pet’s bloodstream, and this will kick off a heartworm infection.
While animals cannot spread heartworms to one another via contact, they are still carriers, and all it takes is one mosquito to spread the heartworms to other animals.
Yes, and dogs are most at risk. While indoor-only cats are less at risk for infection, that risk is not 0%. For them, seasonal prevention is necessary to ensure minimal risk.
In the early stages of infection, your dog will likely not show any outward signs of illness. If the infection persists, however, you will likely see the following symptoms:
- Chronic coughing
- Exercise reluctance
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Cats also do not show many obvious signs after being infected with heartworms. At an advanced stage, their condition may include coughing, vomiting, and loss of appetite, but sudden death is also a possibility.
Heartworm disease can be detected in a few ways. The primary screen for heartworm disease is a blood test, where we check for a heartworm antigen that stimulates an immune system response. The problem with detecting heartworm disease is that if the infection has just begun, the blood test may not give a positive result. We might need to pursue further blood testing, such as CBC or thyroid, to confirm a diagnosis.
Additional screenings we can do to check for heartworm include X-rays and echocardiograms.
If we do diagnose heartworm disease in your dog, we can pursue heartworm treatment to eliminate the parasites. Unfortunately, heartworm treatment is not available for cats.
One word: prevention! You can try to reduce your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes, but it only takes one to infect your pet with heartworms. Monthly, year-round heartworm preventatives are the best defense for your pet.
Luckily for us, humans are not at risk for heartworm disease. While heartworms can enter the human bloodstream from an infected mosquito, they will not be able to survive and proliferate.