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Pet Parasite Prevention: Protecting the Whole Family

Pet Parasite Prevention in White Bear Lake: Cat Scratching Ear

Most of us know the basics about parasites—they survive by feeding off other animals, either externally (ectoparasites) or internally (endoparasites). These critters pose a risk to our pets who are ideal hosts, as well as our human families, who are sometimes caught in the crossfire. While our cold winters may seem like a safe time to relinquish the use of preventatives for our pets, it actually puts your entire family at risk.

The Dangers of Parasites

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes (carriers of heartworm) are three of the most common pests we all try to avoid. They all cause complications of their own or spread diseases that put your pet’s life in danger. Additionally, some diseases are “zoonotic” meaning they can spread from pets to people. The best method for protecting your pet and your family is with year-round pet parasite preventatives.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are ectoparasites that feed on the blood of their host. While ticks take one bloodmeal and then leave in search of another victim, fleas both live and feed on your pet. Fleas are notorious for being difficult to get rid of because they spread their eggs not only on your pet but around your home. This means they can live throughout the entire year in the warm comfort of your pet’s bedding, your carpet, and other areas of the home. Ticks, too, while dormant in the winter, can awaken and be active in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Fleas and ticks both carry zoonotic diseases including tapeworm and Bartonellosis (cat scratch fever) in fleas and Lyme or Rocky Mountain spotted fever in ticks. With consistent flea and tick prevention for the whole year, you prevent these parasites from putting your pet and family at risk.

  • Our Treatment Option: Bravecto is a flea and tick preventative available for both dogs and cats. It is fast-acting, easy to apply, and lasts for up to 12 weeks. The medication is available as a chew or a topical solution for dogs and only as a topical solution for cats. It protects against fleas as well as several species of ticks.


Heartworm is a disease transferred from the bite of an infected mosquito. Dogs are typical hosts for the heartworms while cats are atypical, but they are still at risk for infection. These parasites travel through your pet’s bloodstream to reach blood vessels in the heart and lungs, where they reside, grow, and multiply. They put significant pressure on your pet’s heart which affects the organ’s ability to pump blood, while those in the lungs can cause severe respiratory problems. Treatment for heartworms in dogs is both risky and expensive, and unfortunately for cats, it is likely fatal as there is no effective treatment. Prevention is key for both cats and dogs.

  • Our Treatment Option: Proheart 6 is an injectable for dogs that offers 6 months of protection from heartworm disease. It is highly effective but requires administration by a trained technician, so an appointment with us is necessary. This saves you the trouble of administering any medication yourself and the 6-month protection means you only have to think about it twice a year. For cats, please ask us about our options.

Birch Lake Animal Hospital

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