Cats and dogs are susceptible to a number of parasitic infections. Many pet parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can infect people as well as animals. Parasite prevention is not only important for the health of your pet, but also for the health of your family.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are troublesome parasites of the skin. Flea and tick prevention is important because they cause skin problems, irritation, and transmit diseases.
Fortunately, there are many safe and effective treatments available through your veterinarian. It may be tempting to purchase over-the-counter products, but many have serious side effects and limited effectiveness. We are here to guide you in choosing the right products for your pet.
Common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms. Giardia and coccidia. All of these organisms can cause illness in your pet.
Although parasites can affect pet health long before symptoms appear, you may notice vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or poor overall condition. Additionally, some parasites are zoonotic, which means they can also infect humans. Our veterinarians recommend routine testing and monthly preventives for intestinal parasites.
Heartworms reside in the heart and lungs of infected dogs and cats. This deadly disease is carried by mosquitoes, transmitting heartworm larva into the bloodstream with a bite.
Fortunately, this is a preventable disease and there are a number of excellent heartworm preventives available through your veterinarian. We can help you decide which product is best for you and your pet. Visit the American Heartworm Society for more information.
Screening for Intestinal Parasites
Most intestinal parasites are not overtly visible in feces. We screen for infection by microscopic analysis of the stool sample. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends that intestinal parasite exams be performed two to four times during the first year for puppies and kittens, and once or twice per year for adult pets.
Parasites can infect your pet any time of year. External parasites, such as fleas and ticks, may be less prevalent outside during certain times of the year; however, they often survive in the house during the winter months, creating an uninterrupted life cycle. Other internal parasites, such as worms, may affect your pet all year long. That’s why it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to implement a year-round parasite control program.
What can I do?
Responsible pet parasite control can reduce the risks associated with transmission of parasitic diseases from pets to people. By following a few simple guidelines, pet owners can better protect their pets and their family.
- Practice good personal hygiene.
- Use a preventative parasite control year-round.
- Only feed pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat).
- Minimize exposure to high-traffic pet areas.
- Clean up pet feces regularly.
- Visit your veterinarian for annual testing and physical examination.
- Administer deworming medications as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Give us a call if you have questions about parasite infection risks and effective year-round preventative control measures.