Dogs and cats are frequently born with, or obtain shortly after birth, roundworms, hookworms, or both. Most reputable breeders will routinely deworm puppies and kittens for these parasites before selling them. Therefore, depending upon the age and source of new puppies and kittens, deworming for these parasites may have already been taken care of. For dogs, most heartworm preventative products provide protection against reinfestation with some internal parasites. Further, strictly indoor cats that were appropriately dewormed as kittens are unlikely to be reinfested. Therefore, for indoor cats and for dogs on some heartworm preventatives, internal parasite control is not usually a problem.
There are, however, other internal parasites that dogs and cats can become infested with that may need treatment. Therefore, any dog or cat with diarrhea should have a fecal sample tested for parasites. Further, uvma recommends an annual fecal examination as a part of a thorough preventive health program. In some cases of unexplained weight loss or diarrhea, a prophylactic deworming is undertaken regardless of the results of fecal examinations. Sometimes the nature of the diarrhea or the history of the pet are suggestive of a particular type of parasite and may be used to choose an appropriate therapy.
Fleas and ticks can cause many medical problems, ranging from anemia due to blood loss from multiple bites, to severe skin problems on animals allergic to fleas, to diseases that are transmitted by these vectors of disease. Because of their importance in causing these problems, fleas and ticks should be addressed when they are found on our companion animals.
The Tidewater area provides an ideal environment for fleas. Ticks are a more sporadic problem in Tidewater depending upon the density of wooded areas. Generally, most dogs and cats in Tidewater will develop some degree of flea infestation if preventive products are not used. Tick control measures are taken on a case-by-case basis.
Flea control has become incredibly easy compared to the past. Premise sprays, flea collars, flea shampoos and the like are a thing of the past. There are very few cases in which they play any role in flea control. The newer flea control products consist primarily of topical products that provide rapid and effective killing of adult fleas and also contain growth inhibitors to prevent reinfestation. An oral product that inhibits reinfestation is also available as in a very short acting tablet that kills adult fleas. It is important to realize, however, that there are many topical products on the market and that only a few of them are truly effective at providing residual control of fleas. Most of the over-the-counter topical flea control products are nothing more than a topical form of the older pesticides that used to be present in flea shampoos and premise sprays. While many animals can tolerate these pesticides quite well, some are more sensitive and toxic reactions to these products are not uncommon.
That is why most of the topical over-the-counter products are clearly labeled for use in older puppies only while the safer products that are distributed exclusively through veterinarians are labeled for puppies as young as seven weeks of age. Further, many over-the-counter flea control products are highly toxic to cats and are labeled as such. Despite such labeling, hundreds of cats are treated annually for severe toxic reactions to products labeled for use in dogs only. There have also been reported cases of cats becoming extremely ill simply by living in a house where a dog has been treated with one of these products.
For all of these reasons, uvma has carefully chosen several flea control products to stock. These products were chosen based upon safety and reliability. Several factors go into the decision of which specific product will provide the best flea control for a particular household. uvma is happy to help decide which is best for you.