Most people cringe when they even think about parasites. Yet, according to a study by the Veterinary Health Center of KSU, about 34 percent of all the dogs in U.S. have some kind of intestinal parasite. Moreover, it was reported by the CDC that about 14 percent of Americans are infected with roundworm Toxocara. That is right: humans can get different parasites including roundworms, from the pets or from same sources the pets get them. Parasites are not only creepy, but they also pose health problems to pets and people.
What pets are at risk for parasites?
All cats and dogs are at the risk for parasites. Usually it is easy to spot the external parasites like ticks and fleas if you know how to spot them. One can also tell that a pet has fleas because often fleas are a cause of hair loss, scratching and chewing. It is much more difficult to know if there are internal parasite such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms in a pet. Sometimes the pets having internal parasite scoot on the rear end, have diarrhea, vomit or suffer from unexpected weight loss, but often there are no specific symptoms and can be overlooked easily.
The best way of finding out if a pet has any internal parasite is to take it to your veterinarian at least once a year. At the vet’s clinic, the vet will examine a sample of the pet’s stool under microscope in order to look for any evidence of an internal parasite via identification of microscopic parasite, larvae, and eggs. The vet will also check the blood of your dog to check for the heartworm disease and to check for other vector borne parasites. It is very important thatwhen you bring a kitten, puppy or a new pet in your house, you get them checked by the veterinarian immediately in order to be sure that your family or other pets are not being exposed to parasites.
Why you should care?
It is often that parasites are not detected, and you might be thinking why we should care about the these? Although the pets having parasites can be asymptomatic, parasites remain an important and common cause of diseases in pets. Skin infections, skin irritation and even anemia can be caused by fleas in the younger animals. Another important disease vector of disease for pets as well as humans is ticks. They can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. The intestinal worms can be a cause of anemia, malnutrition, vomiting, weight loss and diarrhea. The heartworm disease is often very debilitating. If it is not treated, it can prove to be fatal. These reasons should be enough to be worried about parasites in your pets. However, if these are not enough, here is another one: many of the parasites can cause sickness to your family members. The most vulnerable are the children as parasites are often transmitted by intentional or inadvertent ingestion of the organic materials containing eggs found in sandboxes and soil.
What can you do for the protection of your family and your pets?
There is no need to panic. Parasites can usually be treated easily and their prevention is even easier. In fact, there are many people who are already protecting their family and pets from the internal parasites without even knowing it. The intestinal parasite for example, whipworms, hookworms and roundworms are often treated and prevented by the heartworm preventatives. Similarly having your pets on monthly tick and flea preventatives is helpful in protecting them against fleas, which transmit the ticks and tapeworms that spread the tick-borne diseases. Check with the veterinarian in order to find best preventative products for the protection of your family and your pet. Also ask the vet about screening your dog every year for parasite.
Parasites can be creepy and they are a very common cause of diseases in pets bur it is really easy to prevent them. Being a mother I want to make sure that my children are safe, but I also want my children to grow up with the pets. Fortunately, screening the pets annually and using the monthly parasite preventatives throughout the year keeps me confident that my family and pets are protected against parasites. Talk to your veterinarian to get more information about best program of parasite prevention.
In case of any concerns or questions, you should call or visit your veterinarian – they are the best source of making sure that your pets are fit and healthy.