There are a variety of intestinal parasites that can infect your pet(s). Infection can occur in a number of ways, most commonly from:
- their mothers, either in utero or through nursing
- contact with contaminated soil in their environment
- contact with contaminated feces in their environment
- health compromising conditions (i.e. pregnancy, malnutrition, intestinal infections, etc.)
- consuming a prey animal (usually a rodent) that is carrying developing worms
Parasites aren't just gross, they can have a significant effect on your pet's overall health, including:
- Poor body condition/weight loss
- Black tarry stools, diarrhea or constipation
- Decreased appetite
- Dry cough
- Anemia (blood loss)
- Abdominal pain
- Intestinal obstruction (in severe cases)
- Damage to other organs (i.e. liver and lungs) from migrating larvae
- Sudden death (in severe cases)
Some intestinal parasites are not only a threat to your pet, but to you as well!
Contact with contaminated soil or feces can lead to accidental ingestion of infected eggs or, as with hookworms, allows infective larvae to penetrate human skin, usually through the feet. Children are usually most at risk due to inconsistent hygiene. Parasite infections in humans generally affect the lungs, liver, eyes, heart and/or brain.
Ways to reduce your exposure:
- Do NOT allow children to play in areas where pets are known to have deposited feces..
- Always remove your pet's stools and dispose of them.
- Always practice strict hygiene, especially with children.
- Wear gloves when removing stools and wash your hands immediately after.
- Always wear foot protection in areas where pets may have deposited feces (i.e. parks, beaches, etc...)
Protecting your pet is simple as many monthly heartworm preventatives will also deworm your pets against some of the most common intestinal parasite we see, such as Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms and Tapeworms. Checking a stool sample on an annual basis is also recommended.