Parasite Questions

What is a parasite?

A parasite is an organism that lives at the expense of another living being. In our pets, these usually take the form of intestinal worms (internal parasites) and fleas and ticks (external parasites).
How can I tell if my dog or cat has worms?

Certain parasites, such as tapeworms, are visible to the naked eye, but others must be detected under the microscope. If you will bring in a stool sample we will be glad to examine it microscopically to see if your pet has worms.
I am not seeing worms in my pet’s stool. Does this mean he/she does not have worms?

In most cases you will not see the worms. Most intestinal parasites shed microscopic eggs and cannot be seen with the unaided eye. The exception to this rule is the tapeworm. The tapeworm regularly sheds a visible segment.
I saw small worms caught in the hair on my pet’s hind legs and tail. What are they?

Small white worms about the size of a grain of rice in length are tapeworm segments. They come from swallowing fleas or from eating mice. There are tablets you can purchase from our veterinarian to eradicate tapeworms. There are NO products in the pet stores or grocery stores to kill tapeworms. Also, in order to keep them away, you should practice good flea control.
Should I do a routine deworming of my pets?

We recommend routine deworming every 6 months to a year. If you don’t want to medicate your pet without knowing that she has worms we can do 3 consecutive fecal samples to prove whether or not she needs deworming.
How do I control fleas on my pet?

With the recent advances in flea control, fleas do not have to be the nuisance they once were.¬† Topical products that are applied to the skin, like Advantage Multi and Frontline Plus, kill fleas quickly and continue to work for up to 30 days. Oral products are also available. Comfortis and Trifexis (Trifexis is Comfortis with a heartworm preventative added) can be given by mouth and contain an ingredient that kills fleas for 30 days.Sentinel is another combination flea/heartworm preventative that does not kill fleas, but acts as a “birth control” product to sterilize adult fleas. We do recommend year-round flea prevention for your pet since fleas will overwinter in sheltered areas like barns, dog houses, and around the foundation of your home. It is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than to treat a flea-allergic dog and the environment after a problem has developed.Do NOT confuse these products with others you find in the pet stores or groceries. Most of these over the counter products simply don’t work and some are insecticides that can potentially harm your pet if they are not used properly.

All flea treatments are pet specific (canine and feline) and recommended doses vary according to each individual pet’s weight. For both safety and effectiveness of flea treatment we recommend following correct pet dosages.

Are flea collars very effective?

Most of them, no. The exception being so-called “egg collars” that contain hormones to sterilize the adult flea. While they will not kill fleas, they can help to prevent adult fleas from reproducing in the home.A new flea and tick collar called Seresto is effective for flea and tick control for 8 months. Ask one of our veterinary staff for more information.
I think my pet has lice. What can I do?

Lice have become a significant problem in Indiana. Lice are small grayish parasites that attach themselves right to the skin and tend to be on the front end of the dog or cat. Advantage (for fleas) does kill lice as well, but we recommend repeating the treatment every 2 weeks instead of every month. Lice are very species specific and cannot be transferred to you.
How do I prevent my dog from getting ticks?

We provide the highest quality products for tick prevention on dogs and cats. You should know that ticks carry a vast array of diseases including Lyme Disease. There is a vaccination for dogs against Lyme Disease but the best protection is prevention with the above products.
What are Heartworms and how can I prevent my dog from getting them?

Heartworms are parasites that enter the blood circulation by mosquito bite and the adult worms live in the heart of the infected dog or cat. Because heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and Indiana has a high mosquito population, we recommend year-round heartworm prevention. During warm spells in the winter, mosquitoes can emerge and spread infection anytime the temperature is above 57 degrees F. Heartworm preventatives also effectively deworm against other intestinal parasites that are a year-round concern. We recommend annual heartworm testing, even if your pet is on year-round prevention. Download the American Heartworm Society’s Guidelines on Heartworms: For Cats  For Dogs