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Parasite prevention: Pets using treatments keep the whole family healthy

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Springtime can bring about many dangers for pet parents. Parasites are a reality in any pet owner’s life. It is quite common for a pet to contract an internal parasite like tapeworm or an external parasite such as fleas. A pet catching a parasite- like cat fleas, the most common of all the fleas- is inevitable if a monthly preventative treatment is not used. Fleas can jump on people and enter the home making it easy to infect even indoor pets. Most parasites can infect humans putting children in the home at risk. Prescription monthly topical treatments like Advantage Multi by Bayer may seem expensive but it is a small price to pay to ensure your family is safe. Find out why monthly prevention is so important to defend against the dangers that the warm weather brings.

Infestation happens quickly
Infestation happens quickly Photo by Armed Forces Pest Management Board Foter CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Infestation happens quickly

Fleas can be hard to spot but if a pet parent spots one it is safe to assume there are many to go with it. Fleas multiply quickly. A female flea jumps on to the pet, feeds and can lay its first batch of eggs 35 to 48 hours later. One female flea alone can lay 2, 000 fleas in her life so multiply that by hundreds or thousands of other female fleas. Not to mention the males- all of which are feeding on the infected pet. These parasites will cause an infestation fast- long before most pet parents even see a flea. They can jump approximately eight inches high from host to host. It is important to treat the animal as well as the home. Once the animal is treated the fleas will have nothing to feed on. According to The Merck/ Merial Manual for Pet Health “typically, control of an infestation can take 6 weeks to 3 months.” Fleas can survive without feasting on blood for over 100 days so treating the animal every month and spraying the home with a flea and egg killing treatment is the quickest way to get rid of the infestation.

 

Discomfort and irritation
Discomfort and irritation Photo by Tommy Hemmert Olesen Foter CC BY-ND 2.0

Discomfort and irritation

Fleas can cause an animal severe discomfort. It is common for pets and even some people to develop Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) which causes pain that can last for days. The patient is allergic to the flea’s saliva making every bite irritated and extremely itchy. Infections can occur. Many pets will scratch to the point of bleeding or develop hot spots. Often pets- especially cats- will over groom the flea bitten area resulting in hair loss. Even if the pet or pet parent doesn't have FAD the bites can still cause irritation and itchiness. A topical flea treatment recommended by a veterinarian should be applied immediately in this case. Most prescribed treatments can take up to six weeks to take full effect if the pet already has fleas. In the case of FAD the sooner the treatment the better.

Young pets infected
Young pets infected Photo by krissen Foter CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Young pets infected

Most flea treatments prescribed by a veterinarian can be used on animals approximately seven weeks of age and pets that weigh in at three pounds. If a puppy or kitten is infested with fleas the results could be life threatening. Flea Bite Anemia can occur if a very young puppy or kitten has fleas. With so many fleas feeding on the tiny pet the poor thing can lose too much blood. In some cases the massive blood loss can be fatal. Unfortunately some pets may be too young to treat with topical prescriptions and following veterinarian’s instructions should be considered the best form of treatment.

Fleas lead to other illnesses
Fleas lead to other illnesses Photo by Eyesplash-feels like spring Foter CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fleas lead to other illnesses

Tape worms are an unfortunate reality of a flea infested pet. Some fleas can carry tape worm larva and transmit them to a pet. If the pet ingests the larva they can grow into flat, worm-like parasites that can be close to 30 inches long. They will feed on the pet’s food. Keeping a close eye on a pet’s hind-end and stool is a good way to find out if the pet has tape worm- look for something that looks like grains of rice. In most cases tapeworm can be hard to spot. “Most infections have few signs. Poor absorption of food and diarrhea may occur,” reported by The Merck/ Merial Manual for Pet Health. The stomach can become hard and bloat but the pet will still lose weight in other areas. Often tape worm treatment is separate from flea and de-worming combination topical treatments so a visit to the vet is a must. Humans can contract tape worm from pets making this parasite a threat to the whole family.

Outdoor threats to pets
Outdoor threats to pets Photo by Ilja Foter.com CC BY-NC-SA

Outdoor threats to pets

Most topical flea and de-worming prescriptions also contain something to kill ticks. Tick control is especially important for dogs and outdoor cats. All it takes is a quick stroll through a wooded area for a pet to get a tick bite. Once it bites it latches on and feeds non-stop until is balloons is size. Ticks can latch on to pets and humans but what’s worse is that they can cause other medical issues. According to the Dog Bible edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe “certain ticks also transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A large number of ticks feeding off a single dog can cause severe anemia or tick paralysis.”  Removing a tick is tricky and should be done by someone who has experience using sterile tweezers. If the head gets stuck in the pet it can quickly become infected. Never touch a tick with bare skin and when in doubt always seek professional help when dealing with ticks. Check for ticks after walks to catch them early before they can do any real harm.

From host to host
From host to host Photo by Fiona McAllister Photography Foter CC BY 2.0

From host to host

The best topical parasite prevention treatments will also contain worm control. These monthly treatments are often more expensive than a prescription that treats only fleas and ticks. The important thing for pet parents to keep in mind is the dangers of living with these parasites. Roundworms are extremely common in cats and while hookworms are found more commonly in dogs. Roundworms look a lot like spaghetti and hookworms are small worms- not quite an inch long. While they are opposite in those matters it’s the similarities between these two worms that is frightening. They both feed off of their hosts. Both of these worms can be transmitted to humans. Roundworm eggs can be ingested by humans. According to the Dog Bible “this usually occurs when young children put their hands in their mouths after touching egg-laden feces or playing in the dirt or grassy areas where roundworm eggs have been deposited.” The scary part is that one of the many medical ailments roundworms can cause is blindness. Hookworm can cause irritating lesions on humans and can be caught just from contact to the skin. It can cause anemia in pets that if left untreated can become fatal. Puppies and kittens should be de-wormed several times as they are born with worms or contract them shortly after birth. The other thing these two worms have in common- they are both easily prevented with a monthly treatment and can often be combined with flea and tick prevention. Paying a little more for some extra coverage doesn't just benefit the pet- it benefits the entire family.

Cost of taking the risk
Cost of taking the risk Photo by andersbknudsen Foter CC BY 2.0

Cost of taking the risk

As previously mentioned not treating these parasites can rack up the charges at the vets office quickly and cost non-furry family members if they are infected. There is no need to get rid of a pet that has parasites with so many treatment options available. The sad truth about store bought flea treatments and de-wormers is that they are often misused by pet parents. Pets are often overdosed by using too many treatments or a combination of two or more treatments at once. They are less expensive and in many cases less effective. Prescriptions from the vet can cost hundreds a year but can result in thousands of savings in the future. It is a good investment into the health of the whole family.  Another good investment is a flea killing spray for the home and a flea comb. Monthly prevention of these parasites can save money, lengthen the life of the pet and keep the whole household happy and healthy.

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