Parasite Prevention

The effect of parasites on your pet can range from bothersome to fatal, so it’s a good idea to take preventive measures that stop parasites before they infest or infect your pet. At Harbor Animal Hospital, we know that parasites are relatively easy to prevent, yet once they take hold, very difficult to get rid of why.

Flea Prevention and Control

Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from minor to life-threatening. Not only can these parasites cause severe itching, irritation, and allergies, but they can also transmit tapeworms and diseases. Fleas can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, and rats. And fleas don’t just stay on pets; they can bite people, too. For more information, contact us or see the flea article in the Pet Health Library on our site.

You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home. We can help keep them away or help you get rid of them if they’ve already found their way inside. Call us to find out how to eliminate and control fleas or to start your pet on a preventive today.

Heartworm Prevention

When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection to your pet. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.

Although often thought not to be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed contract heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.

Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention—and it can actually kill your dog. There is no approved treatment for cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. And even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering monthly heartworm preventives. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and fleas. We can recommend the best regimen of prevention for your pet.

Tick Prevention and Control

Ticks carry Lyme Disease, a potentially debilitating disease that affects both pets and humans. They also carry other dangerous diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever—so for every pet that ventures outdoors, we recommend anti-tick preventive measures such vaccines, collars or oral medications, as necessary.