Protect Your Pets Against Parasites

Protect Your Pets Against Parasites

Heartworm disease is completely preventable. It’s not a new disease and many of the preventative medications we prescribe to prevent it have been around for years. We’ve had a lot of time and the benefit of millions of dollars of marketing and advertising by drug manufacturers in our favor. Yet according to an American Heartworm Society (AHS) survey conducted in 2008, 35% of owners who have their dogs seen annually by veterinarians fail to give their pets heartworm preventatives.

Nationwide, less than 50% of dog owners faithfully give their pets monthly heartworm preventatives and less than 20% have their pets’ stool samples tested every year. These statistics make it pretty clear why heartworm disease and intestinal parasites are such a problem, despite effective preventative products. Many pet owners don’t understand the importance or parasite prevention to the health of their pets and underestimate both the threat and the cost of treatment.

About two thirds of dog owners forget to give at least one dose of monthly heartworm medication each year. Only a little over half of oral heartworm preventatives sold are administered as directed. When the pet owner does forget to give a dose, the average time before the medication is remembered and given again is 30 days, which is plenty of time for the pet to pick up parasites. 33% of pet owners miss several doses and about 20% forget so many that they give up and stop giving it altogether. (Statistics from Ft.Dodge and Merial)

More than 60% of dog owners who say they visit their veterinarian regularly don’t know that heartworms are carried by mosquitoes. Most think the risk of their dog picking up heartworms is low and that the disease is simple and inexpensive to treat it. Unfortunately, heartworm disease is common and intestinal parasites are even more common. Heartworm disease treatment usually costs hundreds of dollars and it’s painful and debilitating for the dog.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our modern, technical world protected us against parasites? It’s easy to pretend that we are too civilized to be bothered by pesky creatures like fleas, mites or heartworms, but in reality they are in us, on us and all around us. Did you know that 40% of humans have little mites living in our eyelash follicles? Our pets are even more likely to suffer from parasites than we are but we don’t like to think about them. We prefer to think that our pets are not at risk, which is part of the reason that clients don’t always comply with parasite control recommendations – wishful thinking means risky behavior.

Every yard harbors parasite eggs, every wild animal carries worms and every mosquito has the potential to give your pet heartworm disease. Many animal parasites also can cause disease in humans. Don’t let your pets get parasites. Protect the ones you love.

About the Author

Dr. Nan Boss is the owner of Best Friends Veterinary Center in Grafton, WI. An author and a speaker, Dr. Boss is very active in organized veterinary medicine, having served on numerous boards and committees at local, state and national levels. She is also a board member of Muttland Meadows.

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