Protect Your Dog from Parasites

Dogs get parasites. It’s a part of life. But there are signs your family can watch for, and actions you can all take to ensure the health of your dog.

First, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of parasites, some more common than others, and some more problematic than others. Your family veterinarian can run a full check, but here are some of the more common parasites for your family to look out for:

Fleas and Ticks

These insects live on your dog’s skin. You may see fleas moving quickly through the hair coat, but if there are just a few, they can be missed. Flea dirt is a sign that the fleas are there somewhere. You can make your dog flea and tick-free with some preventive measures.

Heartworm

Heartworms are mosquito-transmitted and can be fatal to your dog. Getting rid of heartworms once a dog has become infected can be very difficult. Thus, it is much better to try to stop the problem before it starts.
Start with an annual test to see if your dog is already carrying these deadly worms. This test involves having a blood sample taken and analyzed by a veterinarian.

If the test is negative, your veterinarian will recommend a preventive heartworm medication. Medications may be given either once a month, or daily according to your veterinarian’s instructions. These medications keep heartworms from maturing and harming your lovable, family canine.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live on the surface of the skin lining the ear canal. They pierce the skin surface to feed, causing inflammation and discomfort. If left untreated, bacterial infections and loss of hearing may result. Ear mites can be transmitted from one household pet to another, and that include both cats and dogs.

Checking a pet's ears as part of the family grooming routine helps identify ear infections. When you do so, be sure to look for:

• excessive and persistent scratching around the ears
• head shaking
• restless behavior
• ears that are painful to the touch and the pet may cry out in pain
• brown material present in the ears
• foul-smelling odor

If you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinarian and follow the advice and treatment recommended. When you clean your pet's ears, use a cotton ball or clean washcloth. Avoid using a cotton-tipped swab, which can push debris into the eardrum and may damage the inner ear.

All in all, parasites are a normal part of a dog’s life, but they need to be treated and taken care of. That means the whole family has to work together to make sure your dog is in tip-top health.

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