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From minor irritations to life-threatening conditions, parasites can pose a health risk to our furry friends. In some cases, pets can even transmit parasites to human family members. While exposure to parasites is more common during warm weather months, parasites can infect pets any time of year.
April is Parasite Awareness Month, an ideal time to review parasite prevention tips and discuss a year-round parasite prevention plan with your pet's veterinarian.
Why are parasites harmful?
Parasites can infect pets any time of year - and can affect indoor as well as outdoor pets. Left untreated, pets can develop serious illnesses from parasites. Some of the most common parasites include fleas, ticks, heartworms and other intestinal parasites that can pose both minor and life-threatening health risks to pets.
What are the symptoms?
Contact your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these signs of illness in your pets:
- Gagging or difficulty breathing
- Reduced appetite
- Blood in your pet's stool
Parasite prevention tips
Consider these tips to help keep parasites away from your pets:
- Limit access to high-risk areas like sandboxes, dog parks and high-traffic pet walk areas
- Use a year-round parasite prevention treatment
- Keep your pet's eating area clean, including fresh food and clean drinking water
- Avoid feeding pets raw meat
- Don't let pets drink from standing water, such as puddles
- Take your pet to the veterinarian for an annual exam and parasite testing, and to discuss parasite preventive treatment options
Avoid these common parasite prevention mistakes
- Only treating pets seasonally
- Ignoring weight changes in pets
- Forgetting to treat indoor-only pets
- Not giving pets medication consistently
- Not scheduling an annual parasite test for your pet
Our pets are beloved family members and protecting them from parasites is an important step to keeping them healthy and happy. Being aware of parasite symptoms is an important first step to protecting pets. Contact your veterinarian if you notice symptoms or have any questions about parasite prevention. Keep in mind that you can use your CareCredit credit card for both services and products at enrolled veterinary practices. Find a veterinarian near you who accepts CareCredit.
'6 Heartworm Prevention Mistakes You Might Be Making,' Caitlin Ultimo, PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/parasites/6-heartworm-prevention-mistakes-you-might-be-making, accessed Dec. 14, 2017
'External Parasites,' AVMA, https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/externalparasites.aspx, accessed Jan. 5, 2017
'Common Sense Measures to Protect Your Canine, Yourself and Others in Canine Social Settings,' AVMA, https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Protect-Your-Dogs-Yourself-and-Others.aspx, accessed Jan. 5, 2017
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