We are fortunate enough not to live in a place where parasites are always affecting every animal. However, this doesn’t mean we’re immune or there are no parasite concerns. The following provides some information concerning the most frequent parasites we encounter in our patients.
Since spring of 2008, we’ve been recommending all dogs and outdoor cats in the valley be on a heart worm prevention therapy during the summer months. Trends show the mosquitos that transmit this disease are living at increasing altitudes and lower temperatures. Due to the severity of the disease it is best to be on the safe side, which means spring time testing and summertime preventative treatments. Call for more information about heartworm disease any time!
Intestinal worms may vary in severity and may or may not cause signs you would notice. Transmission is usually through eggs in feces, eating a prey animal that is a host (usually rodents), mother’s milk, or in utero. In dogs, worms can cause diarrhea or vomiting and in extreme cases pneumonia and intestinal obstruction. In humans, some worms can cause a serious diseases. Children are especially prone to contracting zoonotic parasites, so routine fecal exams and check ups will not only keep your dog healthy but will reduce any risk to you and your family.
Ectoparasites (Ticks, Lice, Mites):
Ectoparasites can cause a variety of symtoms ranging from itchy skin to systemic disease. We see ticks, lice, mites and occasional fleas in the Yampa Valley.
Ticks can be a vector for diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and Lyme Disease. While not every tick bite is cause for great concern – tick checks each day are extremely important because they allow for prompt removal of the tick! While we are not as great of a risk area for the diseases transmitted by ticks, we do have positive cases that never left the valley. Therefore, prompt removal and identification is useful – if you have questions please call!
Lice are contagious among species but do not spread to humans or other species (A dog with lice will not be able to spread the infection to cats or humans). Each year we see lice infestations spreading through the population with the chief symptom being intense itchyness! If your dog or cat is itching like crazy, we need to see them for an exam.
Handout on lice: Lice in Cats and Dogs