So far, this series of blog posts have covered:

#1 – Have a financial plan to cover the costs of veterinary care
#2 – Have a thorough physical examination done every year
#3 – Feed really good food
#4 – Vaccinate only for what is really needed and only as often as necessary
#5 – Don’t let them get fat
#6 – Price-shop medications, supplements, and special needs foods
#7 – Take Care of Their Teeth!
#8 – Have Blood and Urine Tests Done Yearly Once They Reach Middle Age

Our next topic is kind of gross, but needs to be addressed!

#9 – Keep them parasite free!

The Portland metro area is just plain full of internal and external parasites that make their living by making our pets miserable! From fleas and ticks to heartworms, roundworms, tapeworms, coccidia and giardia, most of these nasty creatures can be in or on our pets for weeks or months before their presence is obvious. On top of that, many of them can be transmitted to people, in some cases causing more problems for us than they do for our pets! Treating these parasites and the secondary damage they cause can be tough on both our pets and our wallets! Preventing them from bothering our pets in the first place is a much better and cheaper way to go. Here’s what we currently recommend for parasite prevention for dogs and cats in this area:

a) Fleas and ticks – Since the winters in the Portland area are generally pretty wimpy, fleas are active 12 months a year! Because of this, every dog, plus all cats that spend any time outdoors, should be on year-round flea control. We currently recommend Nexgard monthly chews for dogs and Cheristin monthly topical for cats.

b) Heartworms – This part of the US is considered a medium risk area for heartworm disease which is carried pet to pet by mosquitos. Though we have not seen heartworm disease in cats in this area, we do see occasional cases of heartworm disease in dogs. Because of this, we think it best for all dogs to be blood tested for heartworm disease and placed on Heartgard Plus chewables once a month, year round.

c) Intestinal parasites – Roundworms, tapeworms, coccidia and giardia are commonly found in dogs and cats who come to our clinic. Roundworms and giardia can be transmitted to people and roundworms are a particular risk for young children. A yearly stool check should be performed on every dog and cat every year, particularly on those that spend any time outdoors. Please bring a fresh sample of your pet’s stool when they come in for their annual physical examination! Monthly doses of Heartgard Plus will prevent roundworms and hookworms along with heartworms in our dogs.

Consistent internal and external parasite testing and prevention in our dogs and cats will go a long way to a giving a long life to our furry friends and will keep some spare coins in our pockets too, and that’s never a bad thing!

– Dr. Chris Wilson