Pet Parasite Prevention
in Indian Head, MD

At Potomac Animal Wellness Services, we can provide cat and dog flea and tick prevention in Indian Head, MD. Prevention is your pet’s best defense against fleas, ticks and other parasites which is why we recommend bi-annual testing and monthly preventative medication to protect your pet from all harmful parasites.

Schedule your pet’s bi-annual screening appointment at PAWS today!

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites affect all pets, including those who spend most of their time indoors. The eggs of these parasites may be brought into your home on clothing, on the bottom of your shoes, or house plants. Your pets can be infected by a few different intestinal parasites and not show symptoms until the infection has progressed.

Prevention is the best way to protect your pet, and we are here to provide treatment if infection does occur. A heartworm preventative that also removes intestinal parasites may be effective prevention as well. Each of the following intestinal parasites are commonly spread through ingestion of eggs or through infected stool,  except for tapeworms which are typically spread through fleas.

When your dog or cat becomes infected, they may not show any symptoms at all. If symptoms do develop, pets may exhibit the following:

  • Potbelly
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rough coat
  • Poor growth

Roundworms can infect people, especially children, which makes prevention more important. Washing your hands after touching soil, cleaning up after your cat, or playing with your pets, and encouraging young children to do the same can help prevent infection. We recommend scheduling fecal exams twice a year so your veterinarian can check for any signs of roundworms.

Hookworms are also spread through ingestion of eggs through the soil or penetrating through your pet’s skin. Hookworms feed on your pet’s blood and tissue, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • Severe blood loss
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Visible weakness

These parasites can also affect humans, as contact with the skin may cause painful sores. It is important to pick up your pet’s stool and take the necessary steps to kill hookworms if you become aware of an infestation in your yard.

A minor infection of whipworms may go undetected, but a major infection can lead to:

  • Irritation of the intestine lining
  • Weight loss
  • Watery, bloody stools
  • Severe dehydration or anemia

We recommend keeping your pet away from any location or outdoor area that may be infected with whipworms, as additional treatment or reinfection may become necessary.

Coccidia are tiny parasites that quickly multiply, making it difficult to get rid of. When your pet ingests coccidia, they will generate oocysts inside your pet’s intestine that will either attach to the lining or get passed through your pet’s stool and reinfect the environment where your pet uses the bathroom. Pets may not show any signs of infection initially, but you may notice indications such as:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss

Although this parasite cannot infect humans, it is important to clean up your pet’s stool every day to avoid infection of their environment. We also suggest regularly cleaning your pet’s crate or litter box.

Your pet may become infected with tapeworms through fleas or ingesting smaller prey that was previously infected. Once a tapeworm gets inside your pet’s intestine, they can irritate the intestine and lead to lack of food absorption.

If you notice white rice-like bits near your pet’s rear or if they scoot or itch at their rectum more often, your companion may be infected with tapeworms. Although there is no substantial threat to humans, tapeworms can be stopped through flea prevention.

External Parasites

Fleas and ticks are the most common external parasites we see affecting dogs and cats in our area. If your pet spends any time outdoors, such as in yards, patios, on walks or at dog parks, they may be at risk of infection. These parasites transmit intestinal parasites, or a range of diseases including Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.

A tick may attach itself to your pet and inject spirochetal bacteria into their body. These bacteria can spread, and thus affect your pet’s joints, heart, kidneys, and central nervous system. If infected, your dog or cat may develop:

  • Fever
  • Swollen and/or painful joints
  • Generalized moodiness
  • Lethargy

Rest assured, PAWS can provide cat and dog flea and tick prevention in Indian Head, MD. We also can provide flea and tick treatment in case your pet becomes infected. Your veterinarian can provide a 30-day supply of oral antibiotics and most dogs recover quickly without any long-lasting effects. However, your veterinarian can assess your pet and create a treatment plan tailored to their individual needs.

Monthly prevention is essential to protecting your pet from fleas and ticks. Once they’ve been infected, it is possible to become reinfected which is why we recommend keeping your pet on a monthly preventative and schedule testing at least twice a year. We can screen for tick-borne diseases right here in our animal hospital, by performing 4 diagnostic tests during one procedure to ensure your pet’s health.


Heartworms are tiny, potentially deadly parasites that infect dogs and cats. During the initial infection, pets may not show any indication they have heartworm disease, but as the disease advances, symptoms may develop such as:


  • Mild cough
  • intolerance to exercise
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss


  • Coughing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

If a mosquito bites an infected animal, this mosquito can carry the infection to other animals as well. Pets do not spread heartworm disease to each other, but one pet may become a source of infection for other pets living in close quarters. Fortunately, humans cannot be infected by heartworms because the parasite cannot survive in the human bloodstream.

If you notice your pet is showing any of the previously mentioned symptoms, we can perform blood testing to check for a toxin that will signify a heartworm infection. Additional testing may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis such as radiographs (x-rays), or echocardiograms.

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