Caitlin UltimoFlea & Tick / Health

Beyond Fleas & Ticks: Four Other Common Pet Pests & How to Control Them

Fleas and ticks may be the most common pests that can affect your pet’s health in a negative way, but those aren’t the only creepy-crawlies to keep an eye out for. While conditions, such as heartworms or mange, can impact your companion’s health, they’re easily treated—and prevented—if you know how to keep their disease and infection carrying pests at bay. Here are four common parasites and pests beyond fleas and ticks that can infect your cat or dog.

1. Heartworms: These parasitic creatures more commonly affect dogs, but they can impact cats, too, particularly if your feline spends time outside. Mosquito bites transmit larvae and once inside your pet, the larvae take hold in the animal’s heart and lungs. Adult heartworms can get as long as 12 inches in length and, if left untreated, can threaten your friend’s life. According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms can be treated, but the treatments are expensive, and there is the possibility of complications and side effects. Prevention is much safer and more cost-effective. Heartworm preventatives like HeartGuard can help prevent the condition from taking hold, and some mosquito repellents can keep your pet from getting bit in the first place.

2. Intestinal Worms: Dogs and cats can pick up many different types of intestinal worms from their environment. Four of the most common include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. These intestinal worms can cause a broad range of symptoms, including weight loss, dull coat, lethargy and cough. Even worse, some of these worms can affect people, too. If your pet has any of these symptoms, take him to the vet right away. If caught early, the worms can be treated without lasting effects. Dewormers, such as Safe-Guard 8in1 for dogs and 8in1 Excel Dewormer for cats, can quickly and effectively remove intestinal parasites.

3. Mites: Parasitic mites can cause mange, a very contagious skin disease. While many dogs and cats have some mites on them, usually their immune systems can combat them. However, in some cases, the number of mites infecting the hair follicles and skin get so numerous that they cause skin lesions, hair loss and other immune system issues. Mange can be difficult to treat, but your vet can help. Depending on the type and severity, your pet’s doctor may recommend a dip or a topical or oral course of medication. The condition is also combatted by improving your pet’s overall health. To prevent mange from occurring, keeping your dog or cat strong with good food, exercise and regular veterinary care is essential.

4. Ringworm: Ringworm, which affects both dogs and cats, is caused by fungal infections. Once ringworm has affected your dog or cat, symptoms include skin irritation, hair loss and raised lesions or bumps. While ringworm can be treated, pets who have it often need to be quarantined, as it’s very contagious, even to people. While your vet may recommend oral medications, treatments like PetArmor’s Antimicrobial Shampoo can help kill bacteria and fungus.

These and other infections can be treated, but prevention is the most effective way to keep your pet safe and healthy.