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"Parasites" are organisms that live off of your pet, usually doing damage to their "host."  Parasites are divided into External (those that live on the outside), Internal (those that live inside your pet), and Blood-borne (those that live in the circulatory system). 

Parasites can be no more than minor irritants, however, they often cause more serious problems including dermatitis, intestinal upset, infections or transmitted diseases.  Even more scary, some parasites are Zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans, while others are carriers of disease that are contagious to both animals and humans.

Prevention is the key to handling parasites in your pet.  Fleas, Heartworm and Internal Parasites can be problems all year round, so we recommend a comprehensive product to prevent infestation.  Ticks tend to be more seasonal, although the season can start as early as March, and go well into autumn.

Fleas

Fleas are small, pesky blood-sucking parasites that live on your pets' skin.  At a minimum, fleas can make your pet itch; however, they can also lead to more serious problem like flea-allergy dermatitis, and "flea anemia." The key to controlling fleas is getting the jump on them before their population becomes out of control.  Because warm snaps in winter can cause unexpected flea population explosions, we recommend keeping dogs & cats on flea preventative all year round.

Ticks

Ticks are also blood-sucking parasites commonly found in grassy or brushy areas.  During the summer, ticks can be extremely common on hiking trails and in open space areas. 
While ticks can be irritating, they are far more dangerous as vectors for certain disease.  Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia, Tularemia and other dangerous diseases can all be transmitted by ticks.  These diseases pose risks to both animals and people. Dogs who live/play in areas where they may be exposed to ticks are strongly encouraged to be treated with a tick preventative.

Internal Parasites

Internal Parasites, commonly called "worms," are parasites that live in your pet's intestinal tract.  These parasites can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild intestinal discomfort, to severe diarrhea, to infections in other organs.  Even more scary, roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to humans, especially children.  While infections are uncommon, in humans they have the potential to cause severe infections, blindness or even death.
As with any potentially zoonotic infection, prevention is key.  We recommend keeping your pet on a monthly product to prevent internal parasites.
Luckily, there are several products on the market that safely and easily prevent against not only internal parasites, but heartworm infection and flea infestation.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworms are blood parasites transmitted by mosquitos.  While traditionally not common in Southern California, changes in weather patterns and an influx of dogs from other parts of the country mean infections are on the rise.  Since this disease can be so devastating and so hard to treat, we strongly recommend that both dogs and cats be on heartworm preventative.  Also, because mosquitos travel easily into homes and
Luckily, there are several products on the market that safely and easily prevent against not only internal parasites, but heartworm infection and flea infestation.
 

Recommended Products:

Trifexis (Dogs Only):  Fleas, Heartworm, & Internal Parasites.  This is our primary recommendation for pet dogs.  This product is an oral pill, given once monthly with food.  It is an extremely fast and effective flea adulticide (meaning it kills adult fleas); at the same time, it prevents roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and heartworm infestation.

Revolution (Cats & Rabbits):  This is our primary recommendation for pet cats.  Revolution is applied topically once monthly, but absorbed systemically.  It prevents against Feline Heartworm, Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Ear Mites and Fleas.  Used consistently, it works well to control fleas, while preventing the elusive and dangerous Feline Heartworm Disease.  Revolution is also safe for use in pet rabbits, should the need arise.

Sentinel (Dogs Only):  Fleas, Heartworm & Internal Parasites.  This is our secondary recommendation for pet dogs.  It contains the same heartworm & internal parasite compound as Trifexis .  The flea component is somewhat different, though.  Sentinel contains an insect growth regulator which prevents fleas from laying viable eggs.  It does not kill the adults, but with consistent use can be very effective in preventing flea population explosions.  This product has been on the market for many years and has a history of being very well tolerated.

Comfortis (Dogs & Cats)-: Fleas only.  This product is an oral chewable tablet given once monthly with food. It kills adult fleas as they feed on your pet. The product starts working within two hours of ingestion, and keeps killing fleas for 1 month. It is safe to give with heartworm products and other medications. Also, because this product is given by mouth, there is no residue left on your pets coat, so it is often preferred by parents of young children.

Parastar(Dogs) & Easy Spot(Cats):  These are topical flea product, generic for Frontline. They are considered very safe for dogs, cats and humans, although it should not be used on rabbits, ferrets or other small mammals. They are effective against both fleas and ticks.  Because this is a topical product, efficacy can be reduced by baths, excessive sun exposure, and salt water.

Assurity/Cherastin (Cats):  This is a monthly topical flea adulticide, by the manufacturers of Comfortis & Trifexis.  As with any topical, baths, sun exposure and salt water can decrease efficacy over time.  Assurity has also been known to cause a small amount of hair loss at the application site.  This is considered a harmless reaction.

Program Injectable (Cats): This is an insect growth regulator which causes fleas to lay non-viable eggs.  The injectable is given once every 6 months, just under the skin.  Used regularly, it will prevent fleas from reproducing and can be very effective at preventing a flea population explosion.

If you have questions about parasites, parasite control, or any of these products, please give us a call at (760)634-2022. One of our friendly staff members will be happy to help you!