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There are a variety of parasites that your dogs and cats can catch, especially as the weather begins to warm up again. Treating them with a dewormer or a flea and tick preventive can help remove the infestation from your pet. However, if the environment is not treated, your pet will be infected again. The following lists ways to control some parasites on your pet and in your environment.

Fleas

Fleas lay eggs in your pet’s hair coat which then fall off. The eggs develop into larvae in the environment, feeding on the adult flea feces that drop off your pet. The larvae will spin cocoons, usually in carpet, to pupate. These pupae can lie dormant for months until they are stimulated to emerge as adult fleas by vibration, warming, or elevated carbon dioxide levels. New fleas need to find a host within a few days. Treatment and Prevention: The best way to control fleas is to treat year round with a topical flea preventive such as Frontline or Advantix because this will kill fleas currently on your pet and also kill any newly emerged fleas that jump onto your pet during the 30 days that the topical product is effective. If your pet currently has fleas, we can also give an oral medication that quickly kills adult fleas. To try and remove eggs, larvae, and pupae from the environment you should vacuum throughout your home including chairs and couches. Wash all the bedding in your home. There are also sprays for indoor and outdoor applications to kill adults and their eggs, but pupae are extremely resistant to insecticides, freezing, and drying.

Hookworms, Roundworms, and Whipworms

These intestinal parasites are picked up in your pet’s environment in areas where eggs have been shed. Roundworms and hookworms can be contracted through eating an intermediate host such as a rodent. Roundworms can also be passed from a mother to her unborn pups across the placenta, while hookworms can be passed to puppies via nursing. Eggs and larvae often take weeks in the environment to become infectious. This means fecal material has likely disappeared before the eggs can infect your dog which makes it hard to identify areas in your yard that might harbor parasite eggs. These eggs can also be very resistant to environmental conditions such as freezing and drying.

Treatment and Prevention: If your pet is diagnosed with one of these parasites, we will recommend an immediate deworming, and likely recommend follow-up fecal checks. To prevent infection, a monthly dewormer such as Interceptor or Profender is recommended. Routine deworming of puppies and kittens starting at two weeks of age is also effective at preventing environmental contamination. Preventing hunting is another effective method of preventing exposure to roundworms and hookworms. In addition, cleaning up feces immediately can help prevent your yard from becoming contaminated with these worms.

Tapeworms

Unlike the other common intestinal parasites, tapeworms must pass through an intermediate host before being contagious to your pet. Typically, your pet will catch tapeworms from eating a flea carrying the parasite or by eating a rodent with tapeworm cysts. Rarely, pets can be exposed to tapeworms from eating lice infected with this parasite.

Treatment and Prevention: If you notice tapeworms, we will likely recommend a dewormer for your pet. In addition, we will recommend treating for fleas as described above. Decreasing hunting can also limit exposure to tapeworm infection.

If you have any questions or concerns about controlling parasite infections in your pets, please don’t hesitate to call.