Parasite Prevention

Parasites do not always cause external symptoms, making 

ANNUAL TESTING

and monthly preventative measures imperative.

INTESTINAL PARASITES

Heartworms and intestinal parasites are certainly nothing to take lightly. Heartworms are a common, yet potentially deadly parasite that affects both dogs and cats. Mosquitoes spread the illness, and, unfortunately heartworms can be quite common in Georgia. Coughing, an aversion to exercise, lethargy and sudden death are all symptoms of this terrible parasite. Prevention and early detection can keep your pet safe from this nasty disease. Similarly, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms and giardia are all causes of intestinal parasites. These parasites are all common in Georgia, and, in most instances, they do not cause external symptoms in pets. Therefore, biannual testing and monthly preventative measures are absolutely imperative for your pet’s well being.

EXTERNAL PARASITES - FLEAS AND TICKS

As pet owners, you know how common these external parasites can be on animals. To make matters worse, they can easily be transmitted from animal to animal as well as through the environment. These parasites loom in the outdoors, on patios, in dog parks and at grassy fields. But animals aren’t the only ones at fault for the spread of these parasites. Humans can bring fleas and ticks into their home as well. You probably know some of the symptoms: itching, hair loss, allergies, anemia and skin infections. However, the possibility of your pet transmitting other parasites, such as tapeworms or serious diseases like Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, is also something else to be aware of. Because of the weather and environmental conditions, we recommend that pets living in Georgia should be on flea and tick prevention year round. The key to preventing these parasites is following to a monthly, veterinarian-prescribed maintenance program.

HEARTWORMS

Heartworms are common and potentially deadly parasites that affect both dogs and cats. Transmitted by mosquitoes, they are very common in Texas and the surrounding states. Symptoms include coughing, aversion to exercise, lethargy and sudden death. Prevention and early detection are key when it comes to combating the serious disease caused by heartworms.

cat and dog

Common Heartworm FAQs

Heartworms are a parasitic roundworm that certainly do not belong inside our pets. Pets may show no clinical signs in the beginning stages, however, they will become more obviously ill as it progresses. Pets may begin to show decreased appetite, weight loss, and eventually breathing problems and heart failure. 

The short answer is mosquitoes. Not all mosquitoes carry heartworm, but once a mosquito has bitten a heartworm positive animal, it can spread to the animal that it feeds on. Many times, a mosquito may feed on the blood of a coyote, feral cat, or other wildlife. Which is why our pets need continuous preventatives, as carrier mosquitoes could increase at any time.

The good news is that our pets don’t directly spread heartworms to one another. However, if one of your pets has heartworms, it could be a carrier and potential source of infection to other pets in the house. That said, it’s important to have all pets tested and covered by routine care.

Yes, both cats and dogs can be infected by heartworm.

In the early stages, many dogs may have no symptoms. However, the longer the infection persists, the more likely you’ll see your pup develop symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:

  • Mild cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Much like with dogs, symptoms for heartworm in cats can be severe or nearly noticeable. Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

There are a few ways that heartworms can be detected and diagnosed. 

The first way to diagnose heartworm is through blood testing. This is the most common way, as the blood test is a simple evaluation for a toxin (heartworm antigen) that stimulates an immune response. 

Sometimes an infection with only a few heartworms will not produce a positive blood test because the infection isn’t producing a significant amount of antigen. Ultimately, the blood test could take many more steps, such as CBC, thyroid, and other testing to produce an accurate result. 

Other forms of testing include radiographs (x-rays), or echocardiograms.

The short answer: PREVENTION! PREVENTION! PREVENTION! 

There are a few things that you can do to keep mosquitoes away from your pets, such as using screens or keeping windows and doors closed or limiting any stagnant water, the most effective option is keeping up to date on preventative. 

Once your pet has been tested and proven negative, you can start your pet on either monthly medication or for even easier prevention with dogs, consider getting a PH-12 injection for 12 months of coverage.

No, heartworms do not have the ability to live in humans. People can still be infected with heartworm through the bite of an infected mosquito, but the parasite is not able to survive in the human bloodstream. 

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