If you are the owner of a senior dog, you will undoubtedly already understand the importance of parasite prevention and will have taken steps to keep your canine companion safe from these creatures and the infectious diseases that they spread. However, many people seem to think that parasite prevention becomes less important as their pets age. In fact, quite the opposite is true, and you should be just as committed to keeping your furbaby safe once he enters his senior years.
Why is parasite prevention so important for senior pets?
Parasites present a threat to all dogs regardless of their age, causing primary disease by themselves and/or making other conditions and illnesses worse than they were previously. However, as your canine pal gets older, his natural ability to fight illness and infection deteriorates. This means that if he does become infected by a parasite, the speed with which damage occurs to his body and the overall effects of the infestation could potentially be much more serious.
This problem is also compounded by the fact that your dog will have a natural tendency to try and mask any illness from you. This overriding instinct stems from their time in the wild, where they would need to ensure that they didn’t appear vulnerable to any potential predators. However, what this means is that often by the time that you realize that your senior dog is battling parasites, they will already have had a considerable effect on his body. In some instances, the damage is irreversible and could significantly shorten his lifespan.
Types of parasite that can affect your senior dog
The types of parasite that can affect your senior dog are exactly the same as those that he is at risk of during his younger years. These fall into two categories: internal and external parasites.
Internal parasites to protect your senior dog from
These are parasitic worms that live inside your pet’s body. There are various type of worm that can affect your dog, with heartworms being one of the most deadly. This is because these worms live inside your dog’s heart and lungs and are very difficult to detect. They cause irreversible damage to his major organs and a large infestation can be deadly.
Dogs can contract intestinal parasites via different routes including direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected pet, ingesting an infected flea (tapeworms), or the bite of a mosquito carrying the disease.
External parasites to protect your senior dog from
External parasites are obviously much easier to spot since they live outside of your pet’s body. Fleas, ticks and mites are the most prevalent and they bite into your dog’s skin, taking their nutrients from his blood. While rarely deadly in themselves, they do carry infectious diseases that can prove serious and have life-threatening consequences. These diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis. While external parasites such as ticks are more prevalent in some areas than others, it is still important to ensure that your senior dog is adequately protected.
What can I do to protect my senior dog from parasites?
Fortunately, it is easier than ever to protect your dog from suffering from a parasite problem and there are more preventatives available than ever before. Parasite prevention forms a crucial part of your senior dog’s preventative pet care and will help your beloved furbaby to live out the remainder of his life as healthily and happily as possible. Your vet will be able to recommend which product is most suited to your senior dog and will suggest a strict schedule of preventative care. It is important to adhere to this advice since most preventatives are only effective for a set period of time. If they are not topped up on a regular basis, your canine pal could be left vulnerable to a parasite infection or worse.
Other positive steps that you can take to help reduce the likelihood of your older dog suffering from a parasite problem include:
- Use external parasite prevention products in your home and yard
- Clean up any animal feces in your home and property as soon as you notice them
- Practice good personal hygiene (some parasite problems can also affect humans)
- Keep your home as clean as possible and vacuum daily
- Do not feed your senior dog raw meat
- Visit your veterinarian regularly
Got further questions about parasite prevention for senior pets? Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced veterinary team based at our offices in Memphis, TN.