Parasites tend to be unpleasant things, and with summer upon us, it may seem like they’re everywhere, just waiting to latch on to your pet! What’s more, seasonal activities, like barbecuing or hiking, can expose your pet to parasites.
Most of us are already familiar with fleas and ticks, but did you know there are other parasites that can also be problematic for your pet? Let’s go beyond the basics to learn more about preventing parasites in pets.
Internal Parasites in Pets
Have you ever wondered why we want to examine your pet’s poop every year? It’s to check for evidence (eggs) of intestinal parasites. Many of these are common in pets, and some are even zoonotic (can be transmitted to humans). Here are some of the most common types of parasites in pets:
Roundworm – Roundworms live in your cat or dog’s digestive tract and affect the absorption of nutrients. Puppies and kittens can be born with them, so deworming at an early age is recommended. In addition, eggs can be passed in the stool and live outdoors, meaning your pet could be reinfected.
Hookworm – Hookworms live in the small intestine of infected dogs and cats. They can cause malnutrition and anemia. Hookworms can penetrate the skin and travel through the body to the small intestine. They’re also zoonotic.
Tapeworm – These large, segmented worms can cause your pet to scoot on their rear end. You may see segments that look like grains of white rice in your pet’s poop or around the anal area. Immature tapeworms can live inside fleas, so a good flea control program is important when controlling tapeworms.
Whipworm – Dogs can pick up this parasite by walking or playing in soil that’s contaminated by whipworm eggs. Worms live in the large intestine, and eggs are passed out through the stool. This parasite is rare among cats.
Heartworms are a type of roundworm that are transmitted via mosquitos. The larvae live in your pet’s bloodstream and migrate to the heart and pulmonary arteries. There, they develop into foot-long adult heartworms. Shortness of breath, coughing, exercise intolerance, collapse, and even death can result if left untreated.
Lice and Mites
Although not as common as fleas, lice are external parasites that we sometimes see. They live primarily in unkept hair coats that are matted with fur. Ear mites and sarcoptic mites (scabies) are other external parasites that can attack your pet’s sensitive skin, especially during the summer and early autumn months. If your pet is itchy, let us know right away so we can diagnose and treat them quickly.
Preventing Parasites in Pets
Luckily, there’s no shortage of medications designed to prevent parasites in pets, and most are very effective. Many heartworm medications also prevent intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and whipworms. Dewormers are safe, effective, and inexpensive when compared to treatment.
Monitoring your pet’s environment, checking for ticks after every outdoor activity, and preventing your pet from eating infected prey are other great ways to help prevent parasites in pets. But remember, nothing can replace their monthly preventive!
Talk to us about your pet’s lifestyle, so we can help you find the right product. Together, we can give you and your pet a summer that’s free from parasites!