Parasite Prevention and Your Pet

By Jeffrey F. Duke, DVM, Head of PVH’s Small-Animal Department

We are fortunate to live in an area where effective health and safety standards allow us humans to live without significant fear of routine sickness and afflictions related to parasites. Unfortunately, that statement is not true for most of our pets.

Because of lifestyle, environment and animal nature, repeated exposure to and infestation with both external and internal parasites are a daily reality for most pets. Protozoa, worms, fleas and ticks are very common in many of the areas our pets encounter, even in their relatively civilized existence.

Several years ago, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), an independent council of veterinarians, veterinary parasitologists and other animal health care professionals, did extensive research to evaluate the risks of disease associated with parasites common in the United States.

The CAPC website – capcvet.org – is a helpful resource for parasite-related information and provides an ongoing census of parasite incidence in the U.S., broken down by state and county.

CAPC’s information is extensive and enlightening on the prevalence of parasite-related disease. Perhaps the most surprising result of the group’s extensive research is the simplicity of the recommendation for managing the risk of parasites for our pets and family members:

Administer monthly treatment/prevention medications to all cats and dogs all year long.

Really! That’s it.

Several medications will address worm, flea and tick exposure concerns in our area without the use of pesticides or chemicals that adversely affect the environment, or risk exposure to family members following use. Products such as Sentinel, Sentinel Spectrum and Revolution for dogs and cats address the vast majority of parasite exposures your pet will face.

Talk with your pet’s veterinarian about parasite prevention. He or she will help you to choose a comprehensive parasite medication that matches your pet and family parasite risk. Then, you just give the medication to your dog or cat every month.

A final note: One common misunderstanding in our area is that fleas are a seasonal problem. That is true only in the sense that they are a problem in Western Washington during all four seasons! Any pet that comes into contact with other pets or areas where wildlife spend time, even in its own yard, should be on parasite prevention medicine year-round.

PVH offers comprehensive and 24/7 emergency care for your pets. Located in Snohomish.

Small-Animal Appointments: 360.568.3113

Article added 4.12.14.