Parasite Prevention and Control
These include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. If infested, clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia ( hookworms) and even death if left untreated. A simple Faecal Flotation test can determine the presence of these worms. Luckily, treatment/prevention options are at hand, namely in the form of dewormers ( tablets or topical treatment)
In Singapore, external parasites commonly encountered include ticks, fleas, lice, furmites, earmites. Once there is an outbreak, they can be difficult to control, so prevention is always better. Effective external parasite control always involves treating the pet, in-contact animals, and the environment. There are various oral or topical preparations available to treat our pets.Do consult with your veterinarian about what to treat with. For treatment of the environment, there are various products on the market, but do make sure they are not toxic to your pet. Alternatively, you can consult a pest control company for safe environmental treatments for these parasites.
Heartworm Disease & Prevention
Heartworm disease , caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis , is a serious and potentially fatal disease that mainly affects dogs and cats. The disease is endemic in Singapore. It is spread by mosquitoes.However, not all mosquitoes carry the heartworm larvae. Those that do, bite the dog or cat and inject these larvae into them. The larvae then migrate to the heart where they mature into adult worms. These adult worms can damage the heart, resulting in heart failure and even death in severe cases.
Pocket pets ( rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs) as well as birds DO NOT get heartworm disease.
Signs of Heartworm Disease
Early in the disease, there may be no clinical signs at all. However as the disease progresses, signs may include weight loss, appetite loss, pallor of the gums/mucous membranes, lethargy, exercise intolerance and panting or coughing.
Testing for Heartworm
A simple blood test can determine if your pet has heartworm or not. Only if your pet tests NEGATIVE for heartworm can it be placed on heartworm prevention. A POSITIVE test result indicates that your pet already has the disease and treatment needs to be implemented. However, if your pet is LESS than 7 months of age, heartworm prevention can be started without a blood test. If your pet is OLDER than 7 months of age and is not already on heartworm prevention OR heartworm prevention has lapsed, then a blood test is required before staring heartworm prevention. Check with your veterinarian on whether your pet requires a blood test or not, and the types of heartworm prevention that can be initiated.
Available Forms of Heartworm Prevention
Dogs—prevention can be in the form of monthly flavoured chewable tablets or topical applications or a once a year injection.
Cats—for cats, prevention is in the form of monthly topical applications.
Though the disease is rare in cats , prevention is still advisable as the disease in cats is untreatable.
Heartworm prevention is life-long.
If you are taking your pet overseas, check with your attending veterinarian as to whether it is necessary to continue heartworm prevention in your destination country.