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This is the eighth and final part of a Guthrie vet wants to take you on a journey. The history, physical exam, lab work and vaccines have been given and it’s just about time to step out of the clinic and head back home. Before you leave, your vet will want you to protect your pet against internal and external parasites by purchasing medication. Many of these parasites can also be transmitted to people which should be an added incentive to use these medications.
There are so many brands of medications that help treat and protect your pet from parasites. Instead of listing specific brands I will talk briefly about the parasites themselves and what to look for when choosing these medications.
1. Heartworms: Heartworms are actual worms that live in the heart and blood vessels of dogs and cats. These worms are about 12 inches in length. It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to spread heartworms to your pet. Heartworms are prevalent in all 50 states. For the cost of a week’s worth of latte’s you can protect your pet from heartworms all year long. There is only one approved treatment for heartworms in dogs and there are zero approved treatments for heartworms in cats. Treatment can cost more than fifteen times that of a year’s worth of prevention. Most of the heartworm preventions available are made to be given every 30 days. These medications prevent the worm from maturing and going into the heart. Missing one single dose can cause your pet to be at risk for getting heartworms. There are multiple oral and topical products available and they are all very effective. There is also an injection that can be used, for dogs only, which will prevent heartworms for six months.
2. Intestinal parasites: Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms are all common intestinal parasites found in dogs and cats. These parasites live in your dog and cat’s intestinal system and can sometimes be seen in the poop. These parasites are also contagious to people. Many of the heartworm preventions available have an additive that helps control intestinal parasites. Puppies and kittens should be dewormed for intestinal parasites multiple times from 8-12 weeks of age. Vets in Guthrie recommend annually deworming your pet with a broad spectrum medication that kills all of these parasites. Most of the over the counter medications are not effective at killing these parasites and do not kill whipworms or tapeworms. These medications come as pills, liquids pastes and one brand even has a topical preparation for cats. Ask your veterinarian what they recommend.
3. Fleas and ticks: These external parasites are more common depending on which part of the United States you live in. Here in Guthrie, OK we see fleas and ticks for about 6 months out of the year. The ticks here spread many different and often fatal diseases not only to your dog and cat but also to humans. Most of the over the counter medications are not very effective and do not last 30 days. It’s very important to be careful when applying these medications to cats, as certain medications available can cause severe and fatal reactions. Most people are aware of topical medications but there are oral medications that are just as effective as the topical applications.
Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.
Spay and neuter your pets!