Tips to protect your pets from fleas and ticks and warning signs to look out for

Sponsored by VCA Hawaii

Pets are special members of our families, so it’s important to protect them from parasites like fleas and ticks. That’s why HI Now host Kanoe Gibson is catching up with Dr. Angelo Torres at VCA Hawaii to learn some preventative tips to help our furry friends.

Parasites range from those visible to the eye to microscopic ones that can reside on the skin, ears, or the intestinal tract. When allowed to populate and grow into large quantities, parasites can be very harmful to pets and even lead to life-threatening conditions as a result of blood loss or severe diarrhea to name a few. This is why prevention and vigilance are important to your pets’ health.

Some skin parasites like fleas and ticks are visible to the eye while others such as mites and ringworm (fungal parasite) are not. Similarly, worms can be seen in the stool although their eggs and other intestinal parasites are naked to the eye. Other internal parasites include heartworm which is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Some common behavioral changes with skin parasites will be itching and scratching. Fleas tend to populate in the hind area, but may be found anywhere on the body. The same goes for ticks, although they can also be found hiding in between the toes or inside the ears. Along with itching and constant scratching, skin irritation, hair loss or lesions may develop. Ringworm lesions often have a round or bullseye skin lesion with hair loss and crusts.

Some parasites will require diagnostics to identify or prescription medicine to treat. Diagnostics will range from fecal exam to microscopic examination of skin samples or bloodwork. Treatments from oral pills or liquid medication to topical treatments (or both). A recheck examination or diagnostic test is often recommended following treatment and resolution of clinical signs to ensure the parasite has been completely cleared from the body.

“Prevention medicine is the best way to avoid parasites in our pets,” Dr. Torres advises. “This includes annual physical examination, fecal exam, and heartworm test, as well as monthly preventative medications.”

Monthly preventatives are designed to prevent heartworm disease, select intestinal parasites, fleas, mites, and ticks. These come in various forms ranging from oral pills to topical applications or even injections. Most oral and injectable preventatives are prescription-only but some topical ones are available over the counter and are usually limited to fleas.

“It’s important for owners to maintain good hygiene at home and treat environment accordingly if flea or tick infestation in home is suspected,” he adds.

About VCA Hawaii:

VCA Hawaii strives to provide the very best in medical care, and the hospitals provide a full range of general, surgical and specialized care. This is how VCA Hawaii veterinarians would treat their own pets, and it offers nothing less than that to you and your pet. VCA Hawaii understands your pets are a big part of your family and will be there for you every step of the way when it comes to your pets’ health.

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