Thrive Pet Healthcare, a veterinary care network with more than 380 hospitals in 37 states, reminds dog and cat owners that year-round parasite prevention is crucial to safeguard not only their beloved pets but also the humans they share their homes with.

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes don’t care if you walk on two legs or four, they’ll happily bite anyone in the household.

“Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes don’t care if you walk on two legs or four, they’ll happily bite anyone in the household,” said Dr. Kelly Cairns, vice president of Medical Excellence and Education at Thrive Pet Healthcare in a news release. “These pests can easily hitch a ride on people, other pets, or even enter through open doors and windows, putting your family at risk of bites and potentially serious illness.”

Fleas and Ticks

Many flea- and tick-borne illnesses that affect dogs and cats can also affect humans. Bites from ticks infected with Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever can lead to serious health conditions. Although less common, fleas can transmit infections and diseases to both pets and humans, including plague and murine typhus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 467,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, but only a fraction is officially reported. Lyme disease is present in all 50 states, with regions in the Northeast at higher risk.”If you have a dog or cat, chances are higher that you will encounter fleas and ticks than households without pets, making it incredibly important to have your pet on a year-round flea and tick treatment,” said Dr. Cairns. “Veterinarian-prescribed preventatives are the best way to reduce the likelihood of your pet bringing fleas and ticks into the home and protect pets from harmful parasite-related illnesses.”

Mosquitoes

Dogs and cats can contract heartworm disease, a potentially life-threatening illness carried by mosquitoes. Heartworms are spread by mosquito bites and can grow up to a foot long, residing in the heart and lungs of the pet. 22 mosquito species in the U.S. carry heartworm, active at different times of the year.

“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito for your dog or cat to get heartworm disease,” said Dr. Cairns. “Once infected, treatment can be costly, with possible side effects and no guarantee of success. Ultimately, the risk of infection and high cost of treatment outweigh the cost of prevention.”

Heartworm disease is present in all 50 states, but regions in the South and Northeast are at higher risk than others. The symptoms are often unnoticeable until irreversible damage has been done. In 2022, over 200,000 pets in the U.S. were diagnosed with heartworm disease.

Debunking Myths about External Parasites

Myth: Indoor pets are not at risk.

Many parasites are mobile and can easily enter homes through doors, and windows, or are carried in by people or other pets.

Myth: Parasites are not a problem for pets during winter.

Climate unpredictability and warm indoor temperatures create breeding grounds for parasites. Also, pet owners who travel with their pets could potentially expose them to parasites.

Myth: Ticks die in winter.

Depending on the species and life cycle stage, ticks survive winter by hiding in leaf litter in wooded areas or latching onto hosts.

Myth: Some parts of the U.S. are not at risk of parasites.

Heartworm is found within mosquitoes in all 50 states. Wherever there is soil, grass, moisture, or vegetation, there is a potential for mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

Source: Thrive Pet Healthcare