Protecting Your Pet: Springtime Parasite Prevention Tips

Thank goodness Spring is here! With it comes flowers, green grass, and lots of time outdoors. This time of year we start to see fleas, ticks, and an increase in parasite issues in general in our pet patients. If you are not using year-round flea, tick, heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention please start that now. We want to take this opportunity to review these common parasites and the risks to your pets.

Heartworms: Mosquitos play an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to develop into sexually mature adult heartworms. Adult heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Heartworms are the size of spaghetti noodles (12-18 inches long) and reside in the heart and lead to heart enlargement and ultimately heart failure.  Heartworms can be prevented with year-round prescription heartworm prevention.  This comes in a variety of forms such as oral, topical and an injectable form. Annual blood heartworm testing is necessary to be sure it is safe to continue heartworm prevention for dogs and to catch any early infections. All heartworm preventions should be given exactly as labeled to prevent lapses in protection.

Please see the following video for more information.

Intestinal parasites: Common intestinal parasites we diagnose regularly at Waukee-Clive Veterinary Clinic include hookworms and roundworms. Unfortunately, these intestinal worms can cause significant health issues in dogs and cats and are transmissible to humans. Intestinal parasite eggs are microscopic, shed in the feces of other animals, and are prevalent in places such as dog parks, daycare, boarding and grooming facility, and other areas frequented by many dogs. Common signs of intestinal parasites in dogs and cats include loose stools, vomiting and occasionally passing an adult worm in the in the vomit or in the feces.

For more information, please follow this link:

Fleas: Fleas are flightless insects that jump onto hosts to feast on the blood of a variety of mammals. A female flea can consume 15 times its body weight in blood each day and with an ample food supply, an adult flea can live up to 100 days. A female flea can lay about 2,000 eggs over the course of its life, and lay eggs within 48 hours of its first blood meal. Fleas can carry several diseases, and act as hosts for the flea tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum), one of the most common tapeworms for dogs and cats.

For more information on the flea life cycle please follow this link:

Ticks: Ticks are members of the arachnid family (which includes spiders, scorpions, and mites). Ticks begin seeking a blood meal when temperatures rise above 39 degrees. Ticks cannot jump or fly but they find a blood meal by crawling to the tips of grasses and shrubs and latch onto passing animals or people. Female ticks lay between 3,000 to 6,000 eggs during their life. Ticks transmit diseases such as Lyme’s, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis. Dogs, cats, and humans can be affected by these diseases.

For more information about the tick life cycle please follow this link:

As a practice, Waukee-Clive Veterinary Clinic strongly recommends year-round parasite prevention. We do require annual heartworm testing for dogs and testing before starting heartworm prevention on dogs over 6 months of age. We are happy to share individualized recommendations for your pet and their health concerns. Products can be purchased in the hospital and through our online store.

We are honored to serve you and your fur babies. Thank you for your trust!

The Doctors and team at Waukee-Clive Veterinary Clinic