Parasites such as fleas and ticks can be very damaging to your pet’s health. Preventive measures should be taken year-round to inhibit potential outbreaks.
Parasites are not just annoying, they can also transmit serious diseases to pets. The more common intestinal parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms, are also health hazards for people. With smart preventative practices, these parasites can be managed easily and affordably.
External parasites, such as fleas and ticks, can be seen on your pet’s skin, but they often hide in your pet’s dense fur coat and can be almost invisible to the untrained eye. Symptoms of external parasites include skin redness and/or rashes as well as excessive scratching.
Roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms are common intestinal parasites in cats and dogs. Dogs can also carry an intestinal parasite called whipworms. Depending on the parasite’s life stage, you may see adult worms in your pet’s stool or vomit. Tapeworms are commonly seen around the rectum and in the stool. However, you will very rarely see the worms in your pet’s stool (only with extreme infestations). An analysis of your pet’s feces under a microscope, or intestinal parasite test, is necessary to diagnose the presence of these worms.
For some pets, our doctors may recommend checking a series of stool samples because a given stool sample may return a false negative test. Depending on the parasite’s life cycle stage at the time the sample was collected, the density of the stool, and the degree of your pet’s infestation, your pet’s sample may not contain any worm eggs. But yet they still could have worms.
Puppies and kittens need to have a series of stool samples checked throughout their wellness visits. They can become infected in utero, through their mother’s milk, and from the environment. Puppies and kittens also chew and put objects in their mouths and these objects can harbor parasite eggs, putting them at risk. For adult pets, we recommend checking a stool sample every year. Even indoor-only pets should be screened for intestinal parasites to protect you and your family.
If you think your pet has external parasites, a physical exam is the first step to confirm their presence. Our doctors check for changes to your pet’s skin and coat that can indicate your pet has parasites. Even a single flea can cause a severe allergic reaction that will leave your pet itchy and uncomfortable. Depending on your pet's coat, adult fleas can be very difficult to visualize on your pet. Adult fleas can usually be found on your pet’s head and neck area, and around the base of their tail. If you have difficulty seeing the adult fleas, you may see “flea dirt”, which is the flea excrement.
What parasite preventive and/or treatment do you recommend for my pet? If your pet is already infected with intestinal parasites, our doctors will administer a deworming medication. Several doses may be required depending on the type of parasite. We administer both topical and oral dewormers.
A monthly administration of oral heartworm and intestinal worm preventative is recommended for all dogs. We recommend Heartgard and Sentinel brand preventatives. Both of these medications will protect your pets from heartworms and several types of intestinal worms.
We recommend Revolution brand preventative for cats, even if they are indoor-only pets. Revolution prevents fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, and ear mites. To prevent fleas and ticks, a monthly topical preventative like Frontline should be applied to your pet.
Your pet should be given its preventatives once a month and all year round. Even in Winter and Fall months parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can survive.
What is the difference between prescription and over-the-counter prevention? Heartworm and intestinal worm preventatives are prescription medications that require your veterinarian’s approval to be dispensed. Some flea and tick preventatives can be purchased over the counter or online without a prescription, however, these are not guaranteed to be safe, or even guaranteed to work by the company that manufactures them.
When you purchase preventatives from Confederate Woods, you know what you give your pet is safe and guaranteed effective. If you are not satisfied or if your pet has a problem with the medication, the unused product can be returned to our office.
Also, if your pet tests positive for heartworms or any intestinal parasites and we have a record of your preventatives purchases at Confederate Woods, the manufacturer will pay for your pet’s treatment. There are also a number of discounts, rebates, and free dose programs to help lower the cost of the monthly doses.
If you think your pet has parasites (intestinal or external), you should schedule an appointment. Depending on your pet’s symptoms, we may ask you to bring along a stool sample to complete the intestinal parasite test.
As a reminder, some intestinal parasites can be transmitted to young children or immunocompromised individuals. Be sure to wash the hands of young children after playing with your pets before they eat, and prevent children from playing in the areas that your pet eliminates. Giving your pet monthly heartworm preventative helps protect your pets and your family from these parasites.