Angie's List: Summer Pet Health

Angie's List: Summer Pet Health

 (ANGIE'S LIST) - Now that summer has arrived, our pets are spending more time outdoors -- which can put them at risk for fleas and other harmful parasites. The good news is that pet owners can prevent these problems before they start.

"For heartworm, each one of them get a pill. And on the flea and tick we put it back here on their shoulder blades," says Pet Owner Joe Kaiser.

He says he knows firsthand the important of protecting his two dogs each month.

"Being a volunteer at the Humane Society I see too many animals with heartworm coming in with fleas and ticks, and I see this and I feel so sorry for them because they are suffering."

Angie Hicks from "Angie's List" says, "Especially during these summer months preventative care for your pets is important when it comes to parasites because it's very easy for them to pick up fleas, for example. The treatment is much more expensive than the preventative maintenance is."

There are three common parasites pet owners should be aware of. Fleas are the most common.

 "It takes about three months for a flea egg to develop into a flea adult so the adults that you're seeing on your pet today are laying eggs that aren't going to hatch for another three months," says Veterinarian Dr. Greg Magnusson.

Fleas can jump up to two feet in the air, which makes your four-legged friend's fur their personal breeding ground.

"They can make pets who are allergic to fleas very sick as far as their skin is concerned. Flea allergy dermatitis is one of our most common presenting signs in the spring and summer," says Dr. Magnusson.

And heads up indoor-cat owners, even if your feline friend never takes a single step outdoors, humans can easily track fleas in.

"The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to pet and parasites is they don't just impact your pet. For example, recently heard from a woman who had an indoor cat and the cat got out one day and came back with fleas. So, not only did she have to treat the pet, but she also had to try to rid her home of fleas as well, which is not an easy task," says Hicks. 

Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes.

Dr. Magnusson says,  "A mosquito will suck blood out of an infected dog or cat and fly over to a neighbor's house and then take a second blood meal off that dog or cat and inject the worms into that pet."

Preventing heartworm disease is much easier than treating it. A monthly chewable can help protect your pet from heartworms, but you'll need to obtain a prescription from your vet. Another parasite a pet can pick up from the outdoors is ticks. Vets suggest checking your dog regularly for ticks since they can transmit lyme disease.

"Most of our ticks we find from dogs that aren't necessarily hiking in wooded areas, but are just in their backyard," says Dr. Magnusson.

There are several effective products on the market today that protect against all three of these parasites. To ensure your pet's protection -- experts suggest not skipping a dose. Talk to your veterinarian about the best prevention for you and your pet.


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