Angie's List: Protect your pet from fleas, ticks and heartworm

      Joe Kaiser says he knows firsthand the important of protecting his two dogs each month.

      "For heartworm, each one of them get a pill," he said. "And on the flea and tick, we put it back here on their shoulder blades.

      "Being a volunteer at the humane society, I see too many animals with heartworm, coming in with fleas and ticks, and I see this and I feel so sorry for them because they are suffering."

      "Especially during these summer months. preventative care for your pets is important when it comes to parasites because it's very easy for them to pick up fleas, for example," said Angie Hicks with Angie's List. "The treatment is much more expensive than the preventative maintenance is."

      There are three common parasites pet owners should be aware of.

      Fleas are the most common.

      "It takes about three months for a flea egg to develop into a flea adult," said veterinarian Greg Magnusson, "so the adults that you're seeing on your pet today are laying eggs that aren't going to hatch for another three months."

      Fleas can jump up to 2 feet in the air, which makes your 4-legged friend's fur their personal breeding ground.

      "They can make pets who are allergic to fleas very sick as far as their skin is concerned," Magnusson said. "Flea allergy dermatitis is one of our most common presenting signs in the spring and summer."

      And heads up indoor cat owners: even if your feline friend never takes a single step outdoors, humans can easily track fleas in from outdoors.

      "The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to pets and parasites is they don't just impact your pet," Hicks said. "For example, we recently heard from a woman who had an indoor cat and the cat got out one day and came back with fleas. So, not only did she have to treat the pet, but she also had to try to rid her home of fleas as well, which is not an easy task."

      Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes.

      "A mosquito will suck blood out of an infected dog or cat and fly over to a neighbor's house and then take a second blood meal off that dog or cat and inject the worms into that pet," Magnusson said.

      Preventing heartworm disease is much easier than treating it.

      A monthly chewable tabet can help protect your pet from heartworms, but you'll need to obtain a prescription from your vet.

      Another parasite a pet can pick up from the outdoors is ticks.

      Vets suggest checking your dog regularly for ticks since they can transmit lyme disease.

      "Most of our ticks we find from dogs that aren't necessarily hiking in wooded areas, but are just in their backyard," Magnusson said.