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Parasite Control (Fleas, Ticks & Heartworms)


Parasites such as fleas and ticks can be very damaging to your pet’s health if infested. Flea, tick and heartworm prevention should be taken year-round due to Virginia's climate.

Cat with Staff
Cat with Staff

Overview

The idea of your pet being infested with parasites is a disturbing thought, but it’s also a medical issue that can have serious consequences. Parasites can diminish quality of life and even cause life-threatening health issues.

Common internal parasites include heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. The most frequent external parasites include fleas and ticks. Your pet should be free from parasites, both internal and external.

Why are parasites dangerous?

Fleas:

Fleas are small, wingless, brown, fast moving insects you can see in your pet’s fur. Some animals are allergic to the saliva of fleas, which can cause inflammation and more discomfort. If ingested while your pet is grooming themselves, fleas can transmit an intestinal parasite called tapeworm.

Ticks:

Ticks are members of the spider family and live in cracks and crevices in the home or outside in vegetation such as grassy meadows, woods, brush, and weeds. Some tick bites only cause mild irritation or swelling at the site, but other tick bites can infect your pet with serious illnesses. If left untreated, these diseases can lead to more severe health problems or even be fatal.

Heartworm Disease:

Heartworms are parasites that live in the heart and its surrounding blood vessels. The adult heartworm produces offspring called microfilariae, which circulate in the pet’s blood. Unrecognized and untreated heartworm infections can be fatal.

When should I seek treatment for parasites?

Fleas:

If your pet is showing signs of fleas such as continuous scratching, gnawing or licking, schedule an appointment immediately. Additionally, flea dirt, the byproduct of fleas that looks like coffee grounds or pepper, can usually be seen by looking at your pet’s abdomen or by combing your pet’s coat with a fine-tooth comb.

Ticks:

If you see a tick on your pet, do not try and burn it off with a match. This does not work and could harm your pet. It’s much safer to have one of our trained professionals remove the tick for you. Make an appointment with us immediately to limit the impact of the tick.

Heartworm Disease:

The best treatment for heartworms is prevention. One of the most common and effective prevention methods is a monthly oral medication.

The parasite is transmitted through mosquito bites and can cause symptoms within two weeks after a bite. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, tiring easily and listlessness. In many cases pets do not show outward signs until advanced stages of the disease. An annual blood test is recommended to screen for heartworms. If found early, this disease can be treated, but it can be costly.

How can I prevent parasites?

Our veterinary team is happy to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pet’s risk factors and health status. It is important to discuss with us yearly which external pest control products are ideal for your household based on the everyday life of your pet.