Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
Parasite Prevention and Your Pet
Contrary to popular belief, protecting your pet from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes –and the diseases they cause – is not a seasonal affair. To effectively combat the dangers these parasitic pests pose to your pets, parasite prevention must be a year-round commitment.
This is especially true in Rocklin, where the temperatures seldom dip to the point of freezing these pests into dormancy. With the mild temps and ample environmental opportunity, our community is prime for the threats that fleas, ticks, and heartworm-bearing mosquitoes can pose.
Why Year-Round Parasite Prevention Matters
Even if we did live in a climate where fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes were only active for a few months a year, year-round parasite prevention would still be a must.
Pets and people do travel, and can bring unwelcome and unintended guests with them. Likewise, even if it’s cold enough to slow these parasites down outside, they can still thrive indoors. This is particularly true of fleas, which can live year-round on their warm-blooded hosts or in your heated home.
It’s also important to remember that many of the more serious and life-threatening diseases that these parasites can pass on to your pet often have incubation periods prior to full-scale infection. If your pet’s preventative lapses, your pet may still be at risk for developing these diseases, even if he or she was bit or infected prior to going off the preventative.
Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that many stop-and-start pet owners often stop treatment too soon, and start it again too late for the preventatives to be truly effective. In order for your pet to have the protection he or she needs, when it’s needed the most, the preventative should be used year-round so that the habit doesn’t slip.
What’s At Risk?
Many pet owners do not understand the risks involved with fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. These pests are more than just annoying for your pet. If anything, the uncomfortable-ness of these pests is just the tip of the iceberg.
Fleas – Fleas pose the least severe threat to your pet’s health, but that does not mean that a flea infestation should be taken lightly. The bite (and more specifically, the saliva) of a flea commonly results in a condition called dermatitis, better known as a skin allergy. This allergic reaction can cause severe itching, which if left untreated, can result in hot spots and infection. Fleas can also be responsible for transmitting tapeworm to both pets and people, and can cause anemia in pets.
In addition to their health concerns, fleas can be extremely difficult to get rid of. They can infect you, your pet, and your home. A single adult flea can lay up to 4,000 eggs in its lifetime, making this a pest problem to stop before it ever gets started.
Ticks – Ticks are nature’s hitchhikers, and are commonly found laying in wait on outstretched branches or tall grasses for a warm-blooded host to come by. These parasites then burrow their heads into the skin of their host and drink their blood until they’ve had their fill. Aside from being gross, these pests can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease to both you and your pet.
In addition to keeping your pet current on his or her preventatives, you’ll want to perform routine tick checks on your pets (and yourself) after outings, and remove any ticks immediately.
Heartworm – Heartworm is a terrible disease that infects pets through the bite of an infected mosquito. This disease is always fatal in cats, and is both risky and extremely expensive to treat in dogs. In fact, you can buy roughly 7 years of heartworm preventative for what it costs to treat a dog one time for heartworm.
In addition to routine, year-round preventative medication, annual heartworm testing should be done as well.
If your pet is not currently on parasite preventatives, or has lapsed between doses, please call us as soon as you can. Parasites are a serious concern for pets, and parasite protection is a must for pets in our area.