Parasites Can Cause Serious Health Issues for Dogs and Cats
In the lovely and temperate Puget Sound area, we have many external and internal parasites to consider and prevent. Our biggest parasite concern overall is fleas; however, a plethora of intestinal parasites come in a close second. Sadly, these are not the only parasitic dangers that are present in this area. A yearly fecal exam is vital to help prevent and stop further spread of intestinal parasites and is highly recommended at every annual examination for your pet. Others that may occur include ticks, mites, and heartworm disease. Other tests may be necessary after examination and travel history is discussed with your veterinarian.
Unlike many areas of the U.S., the greater-Seattle area has fleas all year round. There are several different complications that come with fleas including, itching, hair loss, skin infections, allergies to flea bites, the intestinal parasite tapeworm, and anemia (low red blood cells). Both outdoor and indoor pets are susceptible to fleas. Fleas can be transplanted from the environment and other pets/animals to our pets either by direct contact, via window screens, or humans as vectors.
Most intestinal parasites are spread through fecal-oral contamination (ingestion) and are spread by other pets or many outdoor animals, including raccoons and coyotes. Some of these parasites can only be spread by and to your dog or cat, but some are zoonotic. This means that humans can contract something and in this case certain parasitic infections, from their pets. Pets may show no outward signs of infection, but they could present with gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.
Ticks themselves can be problematic with skin irritation and their need ingest blood to survive. In addition, ticks can also carry several tick-borne diseases. There is a wide and geographically sensitive range of types of ticks, tick-borne diseases, and the symptoms that can occur with each. In general, the tick-borne diseases may cause skin irritation, lethargy, or possibly lameness.
Heartworm disease consists of many microscopic larvae that are passed by mosquitoes to dogs and cats. They will mature and enlarge then live in the pulmonary artery of the heart. They can cause mild symptoms like coughing, but can also cause asthma-like symptoms and heart failure. Pets that have a small number of heartworms routinely show no symptoms.
At Shoreline Veterinary Hospital, we recommend year-round parasite prevention. The type of prevention depends on you and your pet's needs. Year-round prevention protects you and your household from external and internal parasites as well as their secondary complications. Please feel free to call with any questions about internal parasites, external parasites, or parasites prevention or to schedule an appointment with the doctors.