When you cuddle up to your pet, you may be snuggling more than you bargained for. You may be unaware that your furry pal is harboring internal and external parasites. Fortunately, you can prevent your pet from hosting fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and heartworms. Read our All Creatures Animal Hospital team’s 10 tips to protect your pet from parasites.
#1: Administer parasite prevention to your pet regularly
The easiest way to protect your pet from parasites is to ensure they receive their heartworm, flea, and tick prevention regularly—some products are administered monthly, while others are administered every three months. Heartworm prevention generally protects your pet from intestinal parasites, and some flea and tick preventives can keep mange and ear mites at bay. If you need help remembering when to administer your pet’s parasite prevention medication, schedule a repeating reminder on your phone.
#2: Check your pet for external parasites daily
To transmit disease to your pet, some parasites—ticks—must stay attached to their skin for a significant period. You should check your pet daily for ticks to minimize their infection risk. In addition, after your pet has been outdoors, you should always check them for external parasites—fleas—to help prevent a home flea infestation.
#3: Dispose of your pet’s waste responsibly
To prevent intestinal parasite infections in other pets—or your pet’s reinfection—always pick up your pet’s waste, and dispose of it responsibly. Some parasite eggs survive in the environment for months, waiting to infect the next pet who ingests them. By immediately picking up and properly disposing of your pet’s waste, you can minimize all pets’ parasite infection risk.
#4: Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet’s waste
After picking up and disposing of your pet’s waste, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid becoming infected with many of the same intestinal parasites as pets.
#5: Regularly wash your pet’s bedding
External parasites can lurk in your pet’s bedding if they have carried in fleas, ticks, or mites. Eradicate parasite populations that infest your home by regularly washing your pet’s bedding in hot water. If your pet has a favorite couch spot, you should also consider shampooing your furniture.
#6: Do not allow your pet to drink from outdoor water sources
Certain intestinal parasites—Giardia—can live in outdoor water sources. In addition, some intermediate parasite hosts live in or near water, and, if your pet eats snails, frogs, or other aquatic wildlife, they might ingest parasite larvae. Prevent your pet from ingesting parasites from an outdoor water source by always bringing along clean, fresh water and a bowl when you and your pet are out on an adventure.
#7: Maintain your pet’s outdoor space
By keeping your yard free of leaf litter, stagnant water, and other organic debris, parasites and wildlife will not be drawn to the area where your pet spends most of their outdoor time. Dead leaf piles, overgrown weeds and bushes, and dirty water puddles provide the perfect environment for small mammals, aquatic life, and parasites to thrive. As your pet sniffs around these areas, they may ingest parasitic hosts or the parasites themselves.
#8: Vacuum rugs and carpets where your regularly hangs out
Once fleas move into your home, they are difficult to evict, and a few adult fleas can quickly create an infestation. Remember to vacuum regularly—especially the areas where your pet hangs out most of the time—and suck up flea eggs and larvae before they mature and reproduce. After vacuuming, ensure you toss the vacuum cleaner bag, or bleach the vacuum cleaner canister to prevent flea eggs from hatching in the vacuum cleaner.
#9: Discourage your pet from venturing too close to another animal’s feces
Pet poop can harbor a range of intestinal parasites. If your pooch romps at your local dog park, ensure they do not snack on another dog’s poo. In addition, keep your pet on a leash when you walk through the woods, and prevent them from nosing around wild animal excrement. Although wildlife species—racoons and foxes—are different from your house pet, they shed parasite eggs that may infect your cat or dog.
#10: Have your veterinarian examine your pet for parasites
The best approach to dealing with your pet’s parasites is for your veterinarian to identify the parasites that are lurking inside or on your pet. Your veterinarian can then prescribe an appropriate treatment plan to eradicate the pest, and prevent reinfection.
Parasites can cause your pet serious illness that includes lasting detrimental effects. Protect your pet by ensuring they regularly receive parasite prevention medication. Schedule an appointment with our All Creatures Animal Hospital team so we can check your pet for internal and external parasites, and ensure your furry pal—and your family—remain safe from fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, heartworms, and more.