Many people think that if you have pets, parasites are inevitable. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to modern veterinary medicine, it’s now easier and more affordable to provide our pets with the most advanced and reliable preventative care options and keep them safe from pesky parasites.

Fleas And Ticks

Fleas and ticks are two very common external parasites. What this means is that they live outside of your pet’s body and feed on their blood by biting into their skin.

Fleas are almost microscopic and wingless, but get onto their hosts using their incredible jumping skills. They cause intense itching and irritation, which is usually one of the first signs that an animal has a flea problem. They also reproduce very quickly, and it’s normal to find large numbers of fleas on any one pet or in any one household. This makes them particularly hard to treat.

Ticks are larger than fleas. These grey, brown or blackish creatures start off very small, but grow in size as they feed. They are usually lone parasites, although if your pet has been on a walk in long grass, they could potentially have picked up a few. The biggest concern with ticks is that they carry diseases, some of which can have serious consequences for your pet. They can be removed, but this has to be done very carefully to ensure no infected blood from the tick gets onto your pet’s skin or yours.

Preventing Fleas And Ticks

The good news is that there are range of options for preventing fleas and ticks, meaning that there is certainly something that’s suited to every budget. These include:

  • Spot-on treatments
  • Collars that release chemicals that repel fleas and ticks
  • Shampoos
  • Powders
  • Sprays
  • Oral medications

Exactly how often these need to be administered can vary, and it’s essential that you follow the instructions provided with the preventative option that you choose for your pet. Failure to do so could leave your furbaby at risk of a flea or tick infestation.


Heartworms are an internal parasite, living inside your pet’s body. Although cats can get heartworms, they are quite rare. Dogs are the natural host for heartworms. Unfortunately, any untreated cases of heartworms in dogs nearly always prove fatal.

Heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitos, who carry immature heartworm in the blood that they consume. When they bite their new host, immature heartworms, called microfilariae, are transferred into the host’s bloodstream. Here they travel to the blood vessels of the heart and lungs where it takes up to six months for them to mature. Fully grown, they can reach 12 inches in length and can start to reproduce. A severely infected dog could have as many as 100 heartworms.

As their numbers swell, the blood vessels become increasingly clogged, making it impossible for blood to flow efficiently around your pet’s body. Over time, organ damage and then failure is inevitable.

Preventing Heartworms

Heartworm prevention is considered essential, particularly since the symptoms of an infection are very mild and easily overlooked. There are several options available, including:

  • Once a month oral medication
  • Once a month topical medication
  • Once or twice a year injection

Many owners prefer the injectable option. Although the injections can only be administered by your vet, they offer a longer period of protection and there are no concerns over your pet not consuming enough to be effective (as can be the case with oral medications).

How To Choose The Right Preventative For Your Pet

Since there are so many different preventatives to choose from, selecting the right one can feel like a minefield. Some preventatives offer protection against multiple parasites, while others will protect your pet from just a single one. The length of time for which they are effective can vary too. Nevertheless, our veterinary team would be very happy to talk you through the different options and help you to find the perfect preventative to keep your precious pet safe and healthy.

To to discuss preventative care for your pet, call Pearl River Animal Hospital at (845) 735-3213 to reach our office in Pearl River, New York.

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