Your Parasite Questions: Answered

Dog grooming self

My pet’s never had fleas. Why does she need prevention?

Fleas are easily brought in from outside; we often see them on indoor-only cats. They thrive in piles of leaves in your yard and in the warmth of your house. They can go months without feeding and lay millions of eggs before you ever see a single flea. In addition to flea allergy dermatitis, they can transmit tapeworms, rickettsial disease and Bartonella that greatly affect your pet’s health.

We don’t take our dog camping or go to the woods, so we don’t need to worry about ticks.

Ticks are increasingly prevalent and travel to suburban and urban areas on wildlife like deer, chipmunks and birds. They hide in the grass until your dog (a walking buffet) strolls by. Ticks transmit numerous debilitating diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They can survive outside even in freezing temperatures. Vaccinating your dog against lyme disease and using flea/tick prevention like Nexgard or Frontline Gold will significantly reduce his risk.

How will I know if my pet has parasites?

Fleas are very small, about the size of a sesame seed. Flea eggs and flea dirt are often concentrated on the base of the tail, abdomen and head. A flea comb will help you identify this parasite, but keep in mind that most of the fleas are in your house, not on your pet. Cats and dogs often eat the fleas when grooming themselves, so you may not see them at all.
Ticks are almost impossible to see until they’re engorged with blood. They’re usually on a pet’s head or paws. This link will show you how to safely remove a tick from your pet (or yourself).

Why does Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital ask for a stool sample at my pet’s visit? She seems fine.

Intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms can cause serious illness and even death but a pet can be asymptomatic and still be infected. Most intestinal parasites aren’t visible to the naked eye and others only appear after treatment begins. Many of these parasites can also be transmitted to humans, so regular testing and prevention keep your family, as well as your pet, safe.

Skipping my dog’s heartworm prevention isn’t a big deal; if he gets heartworm disease, treatment is easy and inexpensive, isn’t it?

Heartworms live in your dog’s heart, lungs and blood vessels. They can grow up to a foot in length and can be fatal. The American Heartworm Society estimates that a million dogs in the United States have heartworm disease, which puts all dogs at risk. This link will take you to their website, where you can get more information. Prevention typically costs less than $150 a year; treatment for a heartworm positive dog can exceed $1500. The damage to a dog’s heart who has heartworm disease is forever. Year-round prevention is the only way to keep your dog safe.

I see prevention in stores and on websites at great prices. Are these the same products available at Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital?

Parasite preventives aren’t all the same. Many over-the-counter flea/tick products have limited effectiveness or are older formulations that parasites have become resistant to. Heartworm preventives are prescription only. We carry safe and effective products in our hospital, with a larger selection on our online store. These products come straight from the manufacturer and are guaranteed. Unfortunately there are many counterfeit or almost expired products being sold at too-good-to-be-true prices. Your pet’s health is too important to gamble with.

Every day pets enter our clinic with complications from fleas, ticks or intestinal parasites. Each year we see heartworm positive dogs as well. Year round vigilance with appropriate preventives is the only way to protect your pet.

South Building
Outpatient / Pharmacy and Pet Food Pickup / Saturday Appointments

1808 S Taylor Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

North Building
Surgery and Hospital Admission / Imaging / Therapy Laser / Outpatient / Pharmacy and Pet Food Pickup after 5pm

1794 S Taylor Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Phone: (216) 321-6040
Fax: (216) 321-1967

Business Hours
Monday - Thursday: 8:00am - 7:00pm
Friday: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am - 1:00pm
Sunday: Closed

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