Parasite Season is Here!

The doctors and staff at VCA Columbia at Centre park always strongly recommend year round prevention for Fleas, Ticks, Heartworm, and other parasites, because believe it or not, we do see those critters through all seasons, and every month here in the Columbia area! This past winter was no different, even with all of the snow that fell, we removed ticks from several of our patients! Yes, it’s true!

Now that we are now entering what we generally refer to as, "flea and tick season." It is more important than ever to get our pets protected from these pesky parasites! Parasites are not just a nuisance to your pet; they carry several serious health risks, and can be cause for concern for your family as well!

There are numerous species of intestinal parasites that affect dogs and cats. Some of these parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed from animal to human and vice versa. Animals may be asymptomatic, although some of animals with intestinal parasites will show some clinical signs. Common dog and cat intestinal parasites are roundworms, coccidia, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, and tapeworms. These are mainly spread through the feces; therefore, it is important to use proper hand hygiene and sanitation. The good news is that many of these parasites are preventable with monthly heartworm prevention!

In Maryland 1 in 45 dogs test positive for roundworms, 1 in 41 test positive for hookworms, and 1 of 55 test positive for whipworms!

Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease that affects both dogs and cats. Heartworm larvae are spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Once in the body, the larvae become adults and live in the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries. It is here that the heartworms can cause deleterious effects. Many dogs are asymptomatic, although others will develop coughing, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance. In some cases, heartworm disease can lead to heart failure. We recommend giving your dog heartworm preventative every month. Heartworm prevention greatly reduces the risk of developing heartworm disease. We recommend testing for heartworm disease yearly at your dog’s annual visit. In cats, heartworm disease cannot be treated, only prevented, making monthly prevention of the utmost importance!

In Maryland 1 in 200 dogs test positive for heartworms? Right down the road in Washington, DC that statistic changes to 1 in 88 dogs!

Ticks sit on blades of grass waiting to grab on to an animal walking by. Once on the fur of an animal, they embed themselves into the skin to feed on the animal’s blood. Ticks are a concern because they carry many infectious diseases, such as Borrelia (Lyme disease), Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia. As pet owners we can also contract some of these tick borne illnesses, which makes keeping ticks off your pet important to keeping them off of you!

In Maryland 1 in 12 dogs test positive for Lyme disease, 1 in 32 test positive for Ehrlichiosis, and 1 in 96 test positive for Anaplasmosis!

Fleas are tiny parasites that jump from animal to animal and take blood meals from them. Fleas impact your dog or cat by causing anemia (low red blood cell count), allergic skin reactions, and transmission of some diseases. Having a flea infestation on your pet can lead to an infestation in your home environment that can sometimes be difficult to eradicate.

                                                      PREVENTION IS KEY!!!!

 Let our knowledgeable doctors and staff help keep your pet and your  family protected from parasites! Please contact us today to discuss your pet’s individual parasite prevention needs! (410) 995-9077

For more information, please visit:
The Companion Animal Parasite Council