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Importance of Parasite Control in Dogs

External parasites thrive on your cat or dog's skin, posing a significant risk of health problems if not promptly addressed. Our Somerset vets offer valuable tips to prevent parasites in your pets.

Common External Parasites

Numerous parasites can establish a home on your pet's skin. Our Somerset vets commonly treat the following external parasites.


Tiny black insects, known as fleas, feed on mammals, including dogs and cats. They thrive in warm, moist weather and may remain active throughout the year or follow a seasonal pattern, depending on the region. Spotting these pests on your pet's skin is often straightforward.

Fleabites can make some dogs so miserable that they bite and scratch themselves raw. Young dogs may become anemic due to fleas, and dogs can contract tapeworm by ingesting fleas carrying tapeworm eggs.

If you observe evidence of fleas on your pet, it's crucial to eliminate them as quickly as possible before their population grows. Hungry fleas may also bite humans, leaving small, red, itchy bumps, most commonly found on wrists and ankles.


Ticks infect thousands of dogs, cats, and humans with tick-borne diseases every year. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, pose serious health risks. Ticks, which feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles, are the culprits behind these infections.

Make it a daily habit to check your pet for ticks after spending time outside. If you spot a tick, remove it immediately. The most effective method is to numb the tick with rubbing alcohol or petroleum jelly and then use fine-point tweezers to pull it off. Once removed, ensure the tick is killed by placing it in a container of alcohol.

Lice and Mites

Microscopic organisms, lice, and mites feed on your pet's skin, causing itching, hair loss, and infection. Although lice and mites are generally considered distinct species, they share similar functions and behaviors.

Lice inhabit your dog's hair and can be eradicated using an insecticide designed for ticks or fleas. It's important to note that dog lice and human lice are distinct species, with dog lice requiring dog blood and human lice needing human blood. While humans may experience occasional bites from dog lice, they won't face an infestation.

Different types of mites occupy various areas of the dog, leading to issues collectively known as mange, including ear mites, scabies, and cheyletiella mites.

How To Prevent External Parasites on Pets

Using year-round heartworm and parasite prevention products, along with suitable flea and tick products, forms the basis of an effective parasite control program for your cat or dog.

Additionally, incorporating the following steps into a proactive program can contribute to maintaining your cat's health and keeping them free from parasites:

  • Have your cat examined at least once per year by your veterinarian.
  • Look for fleas, ticks, and coat abnormalities any time you groom your dog or cat or return home from areas with external parasites.
  • Consult your veterinarian if your pet excessively scratches, chews, licks the coat, persistently shakes the head, or scratches the ears.
  • Have heartworm tests conducted periodically.
  • Provide pets with cooked or prepared food (not raw meat) and fresh, potable water.
  • Conduct fecal examinations 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 to 2 times yearly for adults, depending on the pet's health and lifestyle factors.
  • Administer parasite treatment to puppies and kittens starting at two weeks of age, repeating every two weeks until 8 weeks of age, followed by monthly treatments as a preventive.
  • Deworm nursing mothers, along with their puppies or kittens.

If you do not give your pet year-round parasite prevention, the following measures should be taken:

  • Deworm kittens biweekly from 2-8 weeks of age and then monthly until 6 months of age.
  • Have fecal exams conducted 2 to 4 times a year for adult cats and dogs.
  • Tailor parasite prevention programs to your pet based on parasite prevalence and lifestyle factors.

The Importance of Routine Wellness Exams

When you bring your dog to our Somerset animal hospital, our team will review their medical history and ask about any specific health concerns you may have. We may have already requested a sample of your pet's stool for a fecal exam in certain instances.

We will analyze this sample to identify common intestinal parasites that may be challenging to detect.

Following these initial procedures, your veterinarian will conduct a physical checkup on your pet, which typically involves one or more of the following:

  • Checking your animal's weight, stance, and gait
  • Listening to your dog's heart and lungs
  • Inspecting the dog's coat for overall condition, dandruff, or abnormal hair loss
  • Looking at your dog's feet and nails for damage or signs of more serious health concerns
  • Looking at your dog's ears for signs of bacterial infection, ear mites, wax build-up, or polyps
  • Checking your dog's eyes for signs of redness, cloudiness, eyelid issues, excessive tearing, or discharge
  • Examining the condition of your dog's teeth for any indications of periodontal disease, damage, or decay
  • Palpate your pet's abdomen to assess whether the internal organs appear to be normal and to check for signs of discomfort
  • Examining your dog's skin for a range of issues from dryness to parasites to lumps and bumps (particularly in skin folds)
  • Feeling along your dog's body (palpating) for any signs of illness such as swelling, evidence of lameness such as limited range of motion, and signs of pain

Each of these tests is intended to detect signs of health issues your dog may be experiencing/ Because our canine companions aren't able to tell us when they are uncomfortable or in pain, this helps to check how your pet is generally feeling.

Getting Your Pet Their Shots

Vaccines aim to safeguard your dog from contagious, common, and potentially life-threatening diseases. We tailor the recommended vaccines for your dog based on your location and your pet's lifestyle.

We suggest core vaccines for all dogs and "lifestyle vaccines" for pets frequently in contact with other animals. Explore our vaccine schedules for more information on the recommended vaccines for your pet.

Regular booster shots are necessary to uphold your adult dog's protection against diseases. Typically, boosters are administered annually or once every three years. Our vets will inform you when your dog's booster shots are due.

Is preventive care expensive?

Compared to the expense of treating an advanced form of a condition, disease, or disorder, investing in routine preventative healthcare for your dog can save you money.

Additionally, proactive veterinary care will minimize any pain or discomfort your dog may experience from health issues.

Detecting and addressing medical issues in your pet at an early stage allows for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you ready to book your pet's next routine wellness exam? Contact Midway Veterinary Hospital today to schedule an appointment. 

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a new vet in the Somerset area? Midway Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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