Heartworm disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Heartworm disease occurs when adult worms begin growing in the heart and lungs of your pet. Heartworm positive mosquitoes can be found year-round in the Sacramento area, therefore, we recommend year-round prevention. Dogs over 6 months old and not previously on heartworm prevention require a heartworm test prior to starting heartworm prevention drugs.
Fleas are small, flat ectoparasites (on the outside of your pet) that can be a simple nuisance, or can transmit more severe disease. Their saliva can also be an extreme allergen for some dogs and cats, causing severe skin irritation. Use caution if you decide to use over-the-counter flea treatments for your kitten. Many dog products contain insecticides that can be fatal to your cat.
Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas (the tapeworm egg is inside the flea, when your pet eats the flea, the egg hatches). You will know your pet has tapeworms if you see small white worms (they look like a grain of rice) in your pets’ feces, or by seeing small tan objects (like sesame seeds) in their bed. Tapeworms require a special medication, but also require active flea control, or your pet will become infected again very quickly.
Ticks are another ectoparasite that can infect our pets. We are fortunate in that the vast majority of ticks in northern California do not carry the tick borne diseases common in other parts of the country. Cats rarely get ticks because they groom themselves so frequently. If your pet does get a tick, simply pull it out with a small pair of forceps, tweezers, or needle-nose pliers. Don’t try smothering or burning them. They can be difficult to kill, so we recommend flushing them. Ask us about effective tick preventative collars.
Intestinal parasites (hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms) are the most common parasites that affect our pets. In large numbers they can affect the growth and development of your pet. They can also be transmitted to people, although it is difficult. At Franklin Ranch, we believe so strongly in early and constant parasite control that de-worming medication is included with every puppy and kitten exam at no charge. The drugs that your pet should be on for heartworm control also act as a de-wormer when given every month.
Coccidia and Giardia are internal parasites that typically cause watery, mucusy diarrhea, with or without appetite changes or vomiting. If your puppy or kitten is infected with either one of these organisms, we will diagnose it by doing a fecal examination. Both diseases are treatable, but with different medications than are used to treat other conditions. Giardia is potentially transmittable to people, so we strongly recommend thoroughly cleaning up your pet’s feces if they are infected with Giardia.