Yes, Your Pet Is Definitely at Risk of Getting Parasites

We’re not in the 19th century, so you have no excuse. Protect your dog or cat against heartworms, fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites.

Barni, Spike, Daisy... 2 Springer Spaniels and a Cocker Spaniel enjoying the beginning of the warmer days in Aberdeenshire.
Even if your dog doesn’t spend much time outside, she is still at risk of picking up fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites. By: ikeofspain

Lots of people still believe heartworms, fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites are not that big of a deal. And my clients say the craziest things when trying to convince me that their pets are not at risk for parasitic diseases, particularly as the weather gets warmer: “But my dog never goes out. Why would I need heartworm or other preventives?”

Your dog never goes outside? No paws touch the ground? Does your dog fly? Does he pee and poop inside?

I highly doubt it — 99.5% of dogs go outside (I hope). Even if the most precious little inside dogs go out for 3 minutes to “do their business,” to take a short walk around the block or to trot to the car through the front yard, they are still at risk for not only heartworm but also all the fleas and ticks that dogs come across every day.

Your dogs — and sometimes your cats — go outside. So protect them with parasite prevention.

Denial About Flea Problems

There are those clients who insist there has never been an obvious flea problem and thus they have never used any flea prevention…until their veterinarian tells them they have a flea problem. It takes only a single live flea to cause itching in a sensitive pet.

Even if you’ve never seen a flea, it does not mean a flea didn’t initiate the dog or cat’s skin allergy. Particularly in cats, veterinary dermatologists recommend all itchy cats go on flea prevention. Cats are really great at over-grooming and eradicating all evidence of fleas by eating them, so you may never know that they are battling the little bloodsuckers.

“But why did she get fleas this year and not other years?” the astonished client laments. Why a dog or cat gets fleas one year and not another can’t really be answered, but unless your pets live a life like that of the little boy in the film Room, I recommend you protect them from risky parasites. And, on second thought, Room is a bad example — any opened door or human being can actually be a source of fleas and mosquitoes.

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When the weather warms up, parasite preventives are a pet’s best friend. By: sunriseodyssey

An Ounce of Prevention

The parasitic world works in amazingly adaptive patterns. When it comes to disease-causing parasites such as heartworms, fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites, you can’t predict or see the risk — so you need to be proactive and prevent it.

My great-grandmother was a European immigrant born in the 1800s. I was a little girl when she said to me in a thick accent, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This proverb is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and I’m not so sure my great-grandmother even knew who he was. But she worked it. She was old-country; she saw lots of sickness and death in her life. She didn’t want to see it again. She wanted to prevent it. She wanted to keep me safe from preventable diseases. And so, Mom Schuh, I want to do the same for my patients.

Don’t Miss: All About Ticks — And the Truth About Frontline, Advantix, Etc.

Protect Your Pets

Think about the risks that may expose your pets to external and internal parasites, and take steps to protect them. These may include:

  • Don’t think your pet is not at risk just because she spends a lot of time on the couch and not in the yard.
  • Do make a plan with your vet and decide the best and safest plan of parasite prevention for your pet and household.
  • Don’t let your pet live in the 19th century.

Learn more about how you can help your pets — and your other family members — live a healthy, parasite-free life:

Last Word

My great-grandmother was a forward thinker. In her lifetime, people and pets used to live half as long as they do now. In her 90 years on this planet, she saw a lot of sickness and disease and wanted to find ways to prevent the preventable.

Hey, Mom Schuh up there! Your great-granddaughter is a vet now. And she’s trying to prevent the preventable in lots of dogs and cats you loved so much!

Happy flea-free tails and trails.

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This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, and was last updated Oct. 13, 2018.

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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