External parasites live on your dog's skin and can create a lot of health problems if they are not properly treated. Our Tumwater vets are here with some tips to help with parasite prevention for your pets.
Common External Parasites
Theres are a number of parasites that can make themselves home on your pet's skin. The following are some of the most common external parasites our Tumwater vets treat.
Fleas are tiny black insects that feed on mammals, including dogs and cats. They thrive in warm, moist weather and may be seasonal or active all year, depending on the region of the country. You will often be able to spot these pests on your pets skin with ease..
Fleabites make some dogs so miserable that they bite and scratch themselves raw. Fleas may cause young dogs to become anemic. Also, dogs can become infected with tapeworm by swallowing fleas carrying tapeworm eggs.
If you see evidence of fleas on your pet, it’s essential to get rid of them as quickly as possible, before the population grows. Hungry fleas sometimes bite humans, too, leaving small, red, itchy bumps most commonly on wrists and ankles.
Thousands of dogs, cats and humans are infected with tick-borne diseases every year. Ticks can cause a number of serious illnesses, and canine tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Check your pet for ticks daily after he spends time outside, and whenever you see a tick, take it off immediately. The best way is to numb the tick with rubbing alcohol or petroleum jelly and pull it off with fine-point tweezers. Once removed, kill the tick by putting it in a container of alcohol.
Lice and Mites
Lice and mites are microscopic organisms that feed on your pet's skin and cause itching, hair loss, and infection. Generally speaking, lice and mites are two different species, but they function and behave in a very similar way.
Lice live in your dog's hair and can be killed with an insecticide used for ticks or fleas. Note that dog lice and human lice are different species — dog lice need dog blood and human lice need human blood. While humans may occasionally be bitten by dog lice, they will not get an infestation.
Various kinds of mites inhabit different areas of the dog, and the problems they cause are generally known as mange such as ear mites, scabies, and cheyletiella mites.
How To Prevent External Parasites on Pets
The use of year-round heartworm and parasite prevention products, as well as appropriate flea and/or tick products, is the foundation of an effective parasite control program for your cat or dog.
In addition, the following steps can be part of a proactive program to help keep your cat healthy and parasite-free:
- Have your cat examined at least once per year by your veterinarian.
- Look for fleas, ticks, and coat abnormalities any time you groom your dog or cat or when you return home from areas that might have external parasites.
- Consult your veterinarian if your pet excessively scratches, chews, or licks the coat, persistently shakes the head, or scratches the ears.
- Have heartworm tests conducted periodically.
- Provide pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat) and fresh, potable water.
- Conduct fecal examinations 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times each year for adults, depending on the pet’s health and lifestyle factors.
- Administer parasite treatment to puppies and kittens starting at two weeks of age repeating every two weeks until 8 weeks of age, followed by monthly treatments as a preventive.
- Deworm nursing mothers along with their puppies or kittens.
If you do not give your pet year-round parasite prevention, the following measures should be taken:
- Deworm kittens biweekly from 2-8 weeks of age and then monthly until 6 months of age.
- Have fecal exams conducted 2 to 4 times a year for adult cats and dogs.
- Tailor parasite prevention programs to your pet based on parasite prevalence and lifestyle factors.
The Importance of Routine Wellness Exams
When you bring your dog in to our Tumwater animal hospital, our team will walk through their medical history and inquire about any specific concerns you might have with their health.
In some cases, we will have already asked you to bring in a sample of your pet's stool in order to conduct a fecal exam. We will take this sample and examine it for signs of common intestinal parasites which may be otherwise difficult to detect.
After these initial steps, your veterinarian will perform a physical checkup of your pet which will usually include any or all of the following:
- Listening to your dog's heart and lungs
- Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
- Inspecting the dog's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
- Looking at your dog's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
- Looking at your dog's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
- Checking your dog's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
- Examining the condition of your dog's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage or decay
- Palpate your pet's abdomen to access whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
- Examining your dog's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
- Feeling along your dog's body (palpating) for any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain
Each of these tests are intended to detect signs of health issues your dog may be experiencing/ Because our canine companions aren't able to tell us when they are uncomfortable or in pain, these help to check how your pet is generally feeling.
Getting Your Pet Their Shots
Vaccinations are designed to protect your dog against contagious, common and possibly erven life-threatening diseases. The vaccines which we recommend for your dog will be based on where you live and what you pet's lifestyle is like.
There are core vaccines which we recommend for all dogs and there are "lifestyle vaccines" which are recommended for pets who are often in contact with other animals. To learn more about the vaccines we recommend for your pet, take a look at our vaccine schedules.
Your adult dog will require booster shots regularly in order to maintain their protection against diseases. In most instances, boosters are given to your pet annually, or, once every three years. Our vets will let you know when you dog's booster shots are due.
Is preventive care expensive?
When compared to the cost of treating an advanced form of a conditions, disease or disorder, routine preventative healthcare for your dog will save you money.
Not only that, but preventative veterinary care will also ensure that your dog experiences a minimum amount of pain or discomfort from any health issues they are experiencing. The sooner a medical issue is detected in your pet, the sooner it can be diagnosed and treated.
Our vets know that budgeting for your dog's annual healthcare can be daunting though.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.