The list of parasites that can affect our animals is almost endless. External parasites include: lice, ticks, fleas, mites and flies. Internal parasites include: roundworms, tapeworms, flukes and protozoa. Our animals’ contract parasites from their environment (grass, other animals, contaminated water, fleas, etc.). Animals at highest risk of parasites are ones that travel frequently and interact with many other animals. Parasites not only cause discomfort, diarrhea and weight loss, but they can carry diseases that are harmful to our patients such as: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Salmon Poisoning, Lyme disease. Due to these negative consequences, we strongly suggest annual exams and testing for parasites.
Diagnosis of internal parasites is obtained by fecal floatation. The process starts by bringing us a fecal sample in a container, we then spin it down with sugar solution and then the microscopic eggs float to the surface where we can identify them. Depending on which parasites we find we will choose the proper dewormer. Diagnosis of external parasites can be done with a dermatologic examination or skin scraping (mites, for example, live deep in the hair follicle). Depending on which parasites we find, we will choose the proper treatment. Heartworms are diagnosed by a blood test. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos. Heartworms are not in our native dog populations at this time due to Montana mosquitos not living long enough to have the heartworm cycle occur. However, as weather patterns are changing, this may start to occur. We highly encourage heartworm testing and preventatives if you travel out of state with your dogs.
We recommend an annual physical exam, fecal float and heart worm test if you travel with your dogs to screen for parasites and monitor overall health.
We recommend deworming only when it is indicated as parasites can become resistant to routinely administered dewormers. This is especially true in our horses and small ruminants. We recommend flea and tick preventatives, especially this time of year when the ticks are coming out. There are different ways to administer these products such as a topical oil or chewable tablet. Please call to discuss what options may be best for you!
In the month of May we are offering 25% of parasite screening, fecal floats and heartworm testing. We look forward to seeing you and your pets!
Dr. Betsy Price