What is parasite prevention?
Parasite prevention is a process where owners use medication and hygiene techniques to prevent their pets and home from becoming infected with parasites.
Medication can be prescribed by your veterinarian, but owners should also practice goo pet hygiene and keep their pets living area clean and free of waste to help prevent parasites.
There are two types of preventable parasites:
Internal parasites are usually worms and are treated with deworming medication. Preventative deworming medication is usually oral, because most worms live in the digestive system.
External parasites are creatures that live on the skin or in the ear canals of animals. It is very easy for these parasites to infect homes and to be transferred to other pets or people.
Why should I use parasite prevention?
Parasites can cause fatal illness in pets and humans. Although most parasites do not cause severe complications, it is possible for untreated parasites to do serious damage. If you pet is untreated or under-treated for parasites, they could be at risk of infection and at risk of infecting other dogs, cats, or humans.
What parasites are preventable?
Preventable External Parasites:
- Fleas - Fleas are common and preventable problems for pet owners, especially in pet-friendly buildings and places with high-density pet populations, like Vancouver. Fleas can infest pets and homes, and once fleas infest a home it can be a lengthy and expensive process to get rid of them. Fleas typically do not live on humans, but they can bite humans and have been known to cause skin irritation.
- Ticks - Ticks are typically found in wooded areas but can be carried to urban areas by animals and humans. They are commonly brought into buildings via pets, humans, and pests. Ticks are capable of transmitting many diseases, such as Lyme disease. Ticks are very hard to kill and can survive long periods of time without a host. They will bite both humans and pets, and can transmit diseases to both.
- Ear Mites - Ear mites live in the ear canal of their host. They cause increased waxy buildup and severe itchiness. If left untreated, ear mites can cause complications including infection, hematoma, or permanent hearing damage. They do not live on humans but have been known to cause skin irritation if left on skin. Although more common in outdoor animals, indoor animals can also contract ear mites.
Preventable Internal Parasites:
- Heartworm - Heartworm is a type of roundworm that lives in a pet's heart. Heartworms are not very common in Vancouver but animals who travel to southern or eastern regions could be at risk. Treating heartworm is lengthy, expensive process and the prognosis is usually poor if left untreated for too long.
- Roundworm - Roundworm is the most common worm infestation in dogs and cats. Luckily, they are very easily prevented and usually easily treated, except in some severe cases. Roundworms can get quite large, and cause weight loss, bloated abdomen, diarrhea, vomiting, and colic. Roundworms can and will live in a human host if given the opportunity. Roundworms cause serious illness in humans, so it is important to deworm pets to reduce owner risk.
- Hookworm - Hookworms are blood-sucking parasites that live in the small intestine of cats and dogs. They cause anemia because they leech the pet's blood from the small intestine. Hookworms can be fatal, especially in puppies and kittens, so it is very important to be diligent with your deworming procedures. Hookworms can be transferred to and cause serious illness in humans of all ages.
- Whipworm - Whipworms are very uncommon in cats, but quite common in dogs. Whipworms typically do not cause serious illness because they do not grow as large as some of the more dangerous worms, but if left untreated large populations can form that do cause serious complications. Humans are susceptible to a different species of whipworms than dogs and cats. Whipworms can be easily treated with deworming medications in the majority of cases.
- Tapeworm - Tapeworms are the most common worm that causes "scooting," a behavior where a dog or cat will drag their bum across the ground. Tapeworms are quite common and usually easy to treat with deworming medication. Tapeworms and fleas have symbiotic life cycles, which is one of the many reasons it is important to practice good internal and external parasite prevention simultaneously. If your pet comes in contact with fleas, they may be a risk for tapeworm.
What should I use to prevent parasites on my pets?
Hemlock recommends using Revolution and either Drontal (for cats) or Dolpac (for dogs) to control parasites. These medications combined protect against all native parasites and troublesome worms. The chart below outlines the coverage of various products, including Revolution, Drontal, and Dolpac:
Revolution and Drontal/Dolpac are perfect for Vancouver pets, but your pet may need different coverage due to travel or recently importation. If you adopted an imported pet or plan to travel, please let us know so we can adjust your parasite prevention plan.
How often should I apply parasite preventatives?
Revolution must be given monthly (every 30 days) to be effective. Drontal and Dolpac are both recommended to be given monthly, but studies have shown reasonable levels effectiveness if given in three month intervals, and it is very unlikely that your pet would become so seriously infected in three months that these medications could not kill all of the existing parasites, so we recommend deworming every three months.
If you choose to use these medications less frequently or discontinue use, your pet will be at risk. Please take into consideration other older pets, puppies/kittens, young children, or elderly persons that may come into contact with your pet, because these animals and people could have serious or fatal complications if exposed to these preventable parasites.
If I use parasite prevention, can my pet still get infected?
If you use our recommended combination of medications at the recommended intervals, it is very, very unlikely that your pet can still contract any parasites. It is also important to remember that all combinations of medications will result in some coverage gaps, but our recommended combination minimizes them best.
The only feline coverage gaps are:
- Two southeastern tick species: The tick species are not a threat to our local animals, only to traveling or imported pets, so be sure to consult your vet if you plan to travel with your pet. There is not currently a feline tick repellent for those tick species, so owners must take care to prevent tick infestations.
- Whipworm: Whipworm is very rare in cats and complications are even more rare, so there is currently no deworming product for felines that prevents whipworm. There are treatments available for the rare case of a cat becoming infected.
The only canine coverage gaps are:
- Two southeastern tick species: These tick species are not a threat to our local animals in the greater Vancouver area, only to traveling or imported pets. They can be controlled with Simparica, but this will leave your pet exposed to flea eggs, mites, and heartworm. Be sure to consult your vet if you plan to travel with your pet, rescue an imported animal, or import an animal.