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Year-Round Parasite Prevention

Parasites are the bane of many pets and pet owners alike and they’re much more than a simple nuisance. In your pet, they can cause chronic and serious illness and some parasites can even be transmitted to human beings – especially infants and young children, senior citizens and people with chronic illnesses. Healthy pets mean a healthy home and year-round parasite prevention is the best way to ensure that happy equation. Experts recommend that your pet be tested for parasite exposure at least once a year.

Along with year-round parasite control agents, it’s important to manage your pet’s environment – indoors and out as much as possible – to avoid exposure to parasites.

Internal Parasites
These include worms like heartworm. Heartworm is a parasite whose territory changes with the fluctuating temperatures of the last decade or so. Heartworm disease was only heard of in the southeastern U.S. along the lower Mississippi River and along the Atlantic coast. They are now found throughout North America and about a quarter of a million dogs are treated for the illness every year. When seasonality becomes impossible to predict, year-round prevention is the only solution.

External Parasites
Ticks and fleas are more than just a nuisance. They can transmit infections via their saliva every time they bite into your precious pet. Many pets are allergic to fleas (or rather the proteins in their saliva) and suffer itchy misery. Ticks can cause Lyme disease, which is a dangerous and debilitating illness.

Ticks feed by sucking the blood of their hosts, and that’s how they transmit disease too. Ticks are another textbook example of why year-round parasite prevention is needed. At one time, they were confined to the southern United States. However, warmer and warmer weather has seen them make their way north until there are now many areas of Southern Ontario where they are common. Their territory fluctuates and it’s impossible now to predict. They carry diseases like lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and control is essential.

Zoonotic Parasites
These can be passed from animals to humans and can cause illness. Toxocara is a type of roundworm. It can be transmitted via feces – including from soil, snow or other material that has been contaminated with feces. They can remain alive in dirt and similar environments for a long time. That means that cold weather is no assurance of being free from contamination.

Tips for parasite avoidance:

• Clean up feces from a dog immediately rather than letting it collect in your yard.
• Clean cat litter daily, using rubber gloves.
• Do not let small children play in areas where you’ve seen wildlife.
• Cover up sandboxes overnight to avoid fecal contamination by wildlife.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up anything involving animal or human waste.
• Have your pet’s stool tested for parasites at least once a year.

The Solutions
Different types of medications are available. When it comes to flea and tick control, the action of each agent is different. Some of them kill existing fleas within a few hours of application. A residual dose of insecticide can be administered within 24 hours to kill any newly hatching fleas. Repeat applications may be necessary to keep up with new hatchings. Options include,

• Products may be swallowed or applied directly to the skin to kill the flea embryos and larvae inside the eggs.
• Products which kill the mature insects.
• Products that combine both actions to provide protection from fleas at any stage of their life cycle.
• Products that also combine heartworm protection and protection from zoonotic parasites too – all in one easy to use package.

About Dr. Arzem and The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital:
Dr. Gary Arzem received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario in 1989. He is the founder and head veterinarian at The North Yonge Veterinary Hospital in Newmarket, Ontario. Having practiced veterinary medicine for more than 25 years, his skills and special interests include surgery, dentistry, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and radiography), dermatology, internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology and public health as it relates to pets and their owners. He is a founding member of The Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region in Newmarket. Dr. Arzem is recognized as an educational leader in the community and is involved with The Ontario Veterinary College, York Region District School Board, Simcoe County Board of Education, and Seneca College’s Co-Operative Education Programs. Dr. Arzem also participates in several continuing education conferences, including The North American and Western Veterinary Conferences and he is actively involved in fundraising for a number of charitable organizations, such as The Pet Trust Fund, The Farley Foundation, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Cancer Society. He has also appeared on City T.V.’s Animal House Calls and Rogers Your Pet Your Vet television shows and has written several articles for Newmarket’s Snapd Newspapers.

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