Heartworm, Flea/Tick, and Worm Prevention
Parasites are somewhat common in all animals, but especially prominent in some areas of the country, or in pets who are regularly exposed to other dogs and cats where they may be picked up. It is best to talk to your vet about what is best for your Italian Greyhound(s), and determine a prevention plan based on the area, habits of the dog, and places visited.
In many cases, if one pet in a house has had a parasite identified, it is best to treat all other animals in the home for the parasites also. Otherwise, they may just keep passing it back and forth, never fully resolving the problem, and costing much more money in the long run.
Heartworm Prevention in Italian Greyhounds
No matter where you live in the United States, you absolutely need to talk to your vet about heartworm prevention. It is far more common than rabies in pets, and can be deadly in the long run. Heartworms are a hidden danger since they are passed by mosquitos, rather than directly from other animals. So, if you live in an area that has mosquitos, then your Italian Greyhound SHOULD be on some type of heartworm prevention program recommended by your veterinarian. It is extremely important that your Italian Greyhound be given regular heartworm prevention, and be tested at least annually for any existing infections.
Once a dog has been bitten by an infected mosquito, the heartworms only need a few months to mature and start causing stress and health issues. The heartworms as they mature attach themselves inside the heart and lungs taking nutrients away from the animals body, and end up blocking the heart enough to cause death. Rarely in the beginning are symptoms of heartworm infection noticeable, until it is almost too late. That is why it is important to keep your dog on regular heartworm prevention, and have a negative heartworm test returned before starting the routine prescribed by your vet.
Prevention of heartworms is much easier than treating an animal who has already developed a full-blown heartworm infection. There are only a limited number of approved medications for treating heartworm infections, and the doses must be administered carefully by a veterinary office to ensure that the treatment doesn't cause immediate damage or death to the animal.
In most Southern areas of the United States, heartworm prevention should be given year-round. In Northern areas, where the temperatures are below freezing for many months it may not need to be given during the winter months if determined by a veterinarian. However, even after freezing temperatures have occurred during a year it is generally a good idea to give prevention for a month or two after freezing simply because your Italian Greyhound may have already been bitten and the heartworms could be maturing within their body. Additionally, many heartworm medications also contain other parasite preventatives to control worms throughout the year.
You can read more about heartworms by visiting the Heartworm Society website.
Flea and Tick Prevention in IGs
Fleas and ticks are common throughout the world, and sometimes also seen on Italian Greyhounds. Depending on where you live, you may or may not choose to treat your IG monthly for these parasites. However, in heavily wooded areas, or areas with lots of tall plants or grasses it may be best to keep your pets on a regular prevention plan. The Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation affiliates have seen dogs from all areas of the country come in with both fleas and/or ticks. Both carry disease which can cause much more serious heath conditions to arise if not properly treated. Ticks can attach to a dog, then detach and then find a human host too, passing any diseases they carry to the new host. Fleas, although they don't live on humans, do bite people causing red itchy bumps or spots, and can quickly infest a house causing hundreds of dollars to treat via extermination in the worst cases.
Ticks crawl or jump on to their hosts, feeding on the blood of the host. They can be found in both suburban and rural areas, in wooded, wet or dry areas within all types of grass or shrubs. Fleas also can be found in all areas, and can even be picked up in a backyard. Squirrels, rabbits, and other critters visiting a yard can spread fleas in to a yard using pets and other critters as temporary hosts while continuing to multiply.
The number of diseases spread by fleas and ticks continues to increase as more research is done, but the most common found in dogs is discussed in our page about tick and flea borne disease in Italian Greyhounds. Ehrlichia is one of the most common diseases passed by ticks, and although it may only appear as a fever at first, in advanced stages it can cause bleeding or eyesight issues, or even neurological problems to develop.
Worming an Iggy
Some worms are visible to the eye, and look like grains of rice on the inside and outside of their poo, even when the stool is regularly formed. Other worms are microscopic in size and cause severe diarrhea, and cannot be seen without closer inspection under a microscope in a vet office. If you suspect your dog has worms, it is always best to take a fresh stool sample from the yard to your vet, and have the exact type of worm identified so it can be treated correctly. Within a few weeks your Italian Greyhound will be back to normal.
Regular worming of an Italian Greyhound may not be needed if your dog is an inside dog, and not exposed to a lot of other animals, taken to dog parks, etc. However, many monthly heartworm prevention programs will also prevent worm infestations from developing too. Getting your dog wormed may be needed in any of these circumstances:
- After Purchase or Adoption - Dogs originating from shelters, pet stores or breeding facilities may have been exposed to large numbers of other animals in close confinement, where parasites like worms can be easily transmitted.
- Encountering Severe Diarrhea - If your Iggy seems to have suddenly lost control of their bowel movements, then a good thing to consider is they may have picked up a parasitic worm from somewhere.
- Regular Visits to a Dog Park or Boarding Kennel - Worms can be picked up when dogs "greet" one another and transmitted in the sniffing process, or while sniffing the excrement of other animals on the ground.
- Poo Eaters - Some dogs have the bad habit of eating what is left behind, and these dogs may be particularly susceptible to picking up parasites such as worms. This can also even include eating the excrement of other domestic or wild animals who have been outside their own home.
- Eating Prey - If you dog has recently ate any type of animal, live or dead, then they may have picked up worms from that animal potentially. Squirrels, rabbits, rats and most other types of animals or rodents can carry worms and diseases which can easily be transmitted to your pet.
Many over-the-counter wormers are available in pet stores and chains nationally, however it is recommended you discuss worming with your veterinarian. Italian Greyhounds can be very sensitive to worming medications since they are a form of insecticide given internally. Some wormers have been known to cause neurological issues in Italian Greyhounds, and must be given carefully and in the correct dosages to minimize any harm to the dog itself. And, many over-the-counter wormers do not treat all types of worms, so if you are unsure about what type of worm your dog has, then it is probably best to consult your vet to ensure that it will be treated effectively.
There are many other types of parasites that animals of all types can pick up. Annual veterinary checkups will help to identify these. Dogs who are constantly scratching at their ears, or have a lot of regular buildup may have ear mites. Italian Greyhounds who sneeze frequently could indicate the presence of nose mites. The best prevention for parasites is knowing a pet, and noticing changes over the short or long term, in addition to providing regular treatment for the more common problems mentioned above.