One of the most unfortunate risks that cats and  dogs face are those associated with heartworm and other parasites. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes. It starts very small but can gradually grow and cause major issues in with your pet’s heart. A preventative medicine can help keep dogs from getting heartworm disease. Other intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms or hookworms are also an important problem. External parasites, such as fleas and ticks also are bad for your pet’s health, so screening for these and treating them with proper medication is important as well.  At Catalina Animal Hospital, LLC,  we can provide the most current products for flea & tick control, as well as medications to prevent heartworms and intestinal parasites. These measure help to keep both your pet and your home pest-free.

Why is parasite prevention so important?

Parasites can cause many diseases, some life threatening. Signs of parasitism include diarrhea or soft stools, vomiting, lethargy, weight loss, poor coat, coughing and difficulty breathing. Parasites can cause primary disease by themselves and can make other conditions and illnesses worse. Some parasites are zoonotic, which means they can go from pets to people. Children are more prone to getting infections than are adults, because their hygiene habits are not completely developed. Some parasites can cause more severe infections in people than they would have in pets. So it is very important to follow your veterinarians’ recommendations on parasite prevention.

What are some common parasites in the Phoenix area?

Ticks, heartworm, intestinal parasites, and less commonly fleas, are all found in the Phoenix area. Common intestinal parasites include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia. What are the general deworming recommendations? There are some parasites that may not be detected with fecal testing, therefore a general dewormer is a great way to rid your pet of potential infections of common intestinal parasites. For new pets, puppies or kittens we will recommended a deworming treatment, followed by fecal testing to best evaluate if your new pet is parasite free. After this, we recommended giving your pet an easy to administer monthly parasite/heartworm preventive chew/pill.

How do you test for and treat Heartworm Disease? 

Heartworm disease is prevalent all over the world. It is a very serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. A monthly chew/pill heartworm preventative is an easy and affordable way to prevent this disease. This is a blood test that can be done in our office, with results in as little as 10 minutes. We recommend having this test before your pet is placed on monthly heartworm/parasite prevention and then again on a yearly basis.

What is a fecal test and why should it be done?

Yearly testing of your pets fecal (poop) sample is recommended to evaluate for possible infections with intestinal parasites. Your pets fecal sample will be tested by a what is called a “fecal float” or “fecal evaluation by centrifugation”. These tests look for the microscopic eggs that parasites lay that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Fecal testing is important to prevent parasites, but is also very important if your pet has clinical signs of infection, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

What is flea/tick prevention?

These are once monthly preventatives that are applied to the skin between the shoulder blades. They will kill and prevent fleas and ticks. This not only rids the pet of the pests, but can prevent some diseases the pests may be carrying such as Tick Fever.

What is Tick Fever and how can it be detected?

Tick Fever is caused by a type of bacteria called Ehrlichia. This bacteria is spread by different types of ticks and is found in the Phoenix area. Dogs with tick fever can be listless, off food and may have enlarged lymph nodes. There may be a fever or abnormal bleeding as well, but some dogs do not show any signs or symptoms at all. Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test and tick fever is typically treated with antibiotics.

Here are some links with important information about the prevention of internal/external parasites: