Just the thought of parasites can make most people cringe. More so, when you understand that people can also get roundworms, and other parasites, from their pets or from the same sources our pets get them.
Besides being creepy & crawly, parasites can pose a real health problem to people and pets.
All dogs and cats are at risk for parasites. External parasites such as; fleas and ticks are usually easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. You can also usually tell if your pet has fleas because fleas frequently cause scratching, chewing and hair loss. It can be difficult however, to know if your pet has internal parasites, such as; tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Sometimes, pets with internal parasites will scoot on their hind end across the floor or ground, they may vomit or have diarrhea, or unexpected weight loss, but often their symptoms are nonspecific and overlooked.
The best way to find out if your pet has internal parasites is to take them to their veterinarian for an annual physical examination. During your visit with your veterinarian, they will examine a stool sample under the microscope to look for evidence of intestinal parasites through identification of microscopic eggs, larvae, and parasites. Depending on the area you live or environmental risk factors, your veterinarian may also recommend testing your dog’s blood for heartworm disease and other vector-borne parasites. It is important that anytime you bring a puppy, kitten or new pet home, you have them checked by your veterinarian right away to be sure that they won’t be exposing your other pets or family to parasites.
Since parasites can often go undetected, you may wonder why you should care about them? Although pets infected with parasites can sometimes be asymptomatic, they remain a common and important cause of disease in pets. Fleas can cause skin irritation, skin infections, and even anemia in young animals. Ticks are an important disease vector for people and pets, and can spread Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Intestinal parasites (worms) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss, and anemia. Heartworm disease can be very debilitating, and if left untreated, can be fatal. If these reasons aren’t enough to make you worry about parasites, here’s another: many of these parasites can make your family members sick. Children are the most vulnerable since parasites can be transmitted by the inadvertent or intentional ingestion of organic material containing eggs found in soil and sandboxes.
Now before you panic, you should know that parasites are usually easy to treat and even easier to prevent. In fact, many people may already be protecting their pets and family from internal parasites and don’t even know it. Many heartworm preventatives also treat and prevent intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Likewise, having your pet on monthly flea and tick preventatives help protect them against fleas that transmit tapeworms and ticks that spread tick-borne diseases. Be sure to ask your veterinarian or veterinary team to find the best preventative products based on yours and your pet’s lifestyle, to protect your pets and your family and inquire about screening your pet annually for parasites.
Although parasites are creepy and a common cause of morbidity in pets, preventing them is really easy. As parents, we want to protect our children, but we also want them to grow up without concerns of being around animals. Fortunately, using monthly parasite preventatives every six months (June to October) or year round again depending on lifestyle for you and your pets, and by screening pets annually can give us peace of mind by protecting our pets and family from parasites.
Call our clinic today, at 403. 239.4657 to learn more about the best parasite prevention program for your pets and family.