by Scott Delaney DVM

sikkes and kitties1Parasites are living creatures that eat, live, and survive at the expense of a host animal.  Parasites are the leading cause of disease in dogs and cats.  Common parasites of dogs and cats in Monmouth County, NJ include heartworms, intestinal worms (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworm, to name a few), mites, ticks, and fleas.  All of these parasites can cause serious problems for pets.  The risk of parasites is very high.  Click here to see the prevalence of parasites in your area.  Many pet parasites can also pose a risk to your family.  The good news is that all of these bad bugs can be prevented with a chewable treat that you give to your pet ONCE A MONTH.  (click on blue words)

Heartworms

Heartworms fill the atrium and pulmonary arteries of the heart

Heartworms in the heart of a dog

Heartworms are one of the most serious and deadly of parasites.  Heartworms are transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes.  The life and biology of the heartworm is an amazing story.  I highly recommend the MOVIE!   Heartworms are REAL, and the risk of infection is increasing every year.  All dogs and cats need to be protected.  Heartworms cause heart, lung, and artery disease in dogs, and cause deadly lung disease in cats.  It’s the same deadly bug; it just affects cats and dogs differently.

Intestinal Worms

Intestinal worms like hookworms and roundworms can infect your pets, AND your family.   These parasites are found in the soil virtually everywhere.   Even if your pet has been dewormed, they can become re-infested again just by walking on the lawn.  Roundworm eggs can be picked up on your pet’s feet when they walk on the grass or soil.  Your pet cleans (licks) their feet, and ingest the worm eggs.   Most people don’t know that there dog or cat has intestinal parasites until there is a problem with vomiting or diarrhea.  The message here is:  Take a stools specimen to the vet at least TWICE a year for a parasite screen, and keep your pet on preventative medication ONCE A MONTH.

Fleas

Fleas are among the most prolific and diverse insects in the world.  Like mosquitoes and ticks, they suck large amounts of blood, and can transmit infections from one host to another.  The main issue for dogs and cats is that they are the most common cause of skin allergies and irritation.  Watch this scary movie.  Fleas prefer cats and196201410-Think-12-cat-facts-bf77fbcf99 dogs over humans, so if you’re not getting bites, it doesn’t mean your pet isn’t infested.  Fleas survive the harsh winter cold inside our homes, in the burrows of wild animals, and on the warm fur of their hosts.  Flea eggs and cocoons are microscopic, resistant to most insecticides, and can survive in your home for months before hatching.

Ticks

Ticks are the most common cause of infectious disease in dogs.  In 2014, one out of every eight dogs tested positive for Lyme disease.  Most people know about Lyme disease, but it’s the diseases that you don’t hear about that are the most serious.  Ehrlichiosis, Spotted Fever, Bebesiosis, and Anaplasmosis are all transmitted by ticks, and can cause disease in dogs AND HUMANS.  Ticks are among the hardest of parasites to prevent, but there are new preventative medications  that are safe and effective.