Summer is upon us. And with the warmer temperatures comes a reminder that our pets are at risk from biting pests and the diseases and parasites they carry.

The three most common external parasites are fleas, ticks and ear mites. Some of these parasites carry the potential for diseases like lyme disease and ehrlichiosis as well as other internal parasites like tapeworms. Furthermore, the animal scratching in reaction to the parasite bite can often result in secondary infections.

While not technically parasites, mosquitoes carry one of the most devastating internal parasites–the heartworm. Heartworms can infect both dogs and cats, but the symptoms and resulting treatment options differ significantly. However, in both cats and dogs, an undetected and untreated heartworm infection can ultimately lead to a painful death of the pet.

Treatments for nearly all of the diseases and parasites listed above are available at your local veterinarian. But rather than spending money on costly treatments after the infections, a far better and more affordable option is to pursue some of the highly effective preventative treatments for your pet.

For external parasites like fleas and ticks, preventative treatments can take the form of topical applications to the skin or of internally ingested chews and are usually based upon the size of the pet. These preventatives may repel the parasites or kill any parasites that manage to bite your pet. You can pick them up at your veterinarian’s office with a prescription if your pet is up to date on its examinations. One factor to consider is that treatments for dogs should never be given to cats and you should make your veterinarian aware if you have both dogs and cats living in your home so that the proper treatment can be prescribed.

When it comes to preventing mosquito bites to your pet, the options are far more limited. Most common mosquito repellants found in your home for human protection are not safe for your pets. And while you might believe that mosquitoes can’t get through your pet’s fur, the fur is not an effective barrier against biting pests. Furthermore, your pet will still have plenty of exposed skin that can present an inviting location for a mosquito bite. Therefore, preventative treatment against the heartworm parasite carried by mosquitoes is critically important.

There are numerous heartworm prevention medicines available in chew form. Following your veterinarian’s instruction, you simply give your pet the chew once a month to prevent a heartworm infection. Our office here at Family Pet Health also offers an injectable preventative that lasts for six months for greater convenience to the pet owner. It is critical that any heartworm preventative be administered precisely as scheduled as any missed doses can leave your pet susceptible to an infection. Furthermore, your veterinarian will administer a heartworm test at least once a year to confirm that no infection slipped past the preventative treatments.

With consistent preventative methods as prescribed by a veterinarian, chances are that your pet can live a lifetime without the irritating, costly and potentially deadly infections from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

Pet owners who would like to discuss preventative options with one of the doctors here at Family Pet Health can schedule an appointment by calling 615-907-8387.