Intestinal parasites common to dogs and cats not only cause disease in our pets but can also be spread to people. Roundworm, hookworm, or Giardia infections in pets can cause weight loss, diarrhea or anemia. In people, infections can result in skin rash, gastrointestinal disease, blindness, or neurological problems. Children are especially vulnerable due to their poor hygiene habits and higher exposure to potentially contaminated environments such as parks and sandboxes. Immunosuppressed individuals are also at risk. Infected animal's feces contain parasite eggs, protozoa or larvae that contaminate dirt, grass, hair of the animal or other objects in their surrounding environment. Parasite eggs are highly resistant to environmental conditions and may persist in the soil for years. Eggs or protozoa are ingested or larvae penetrate bare skin to infect either man or animals. Tapeworm infection occurs in pets when they ingest fleas or rodents.
Protect your pet and your family from the risk of infection. We recommend testing your pet for parasites regularly as well as treating and administering preventive medication for parasite control. Reduce environmental contamination by properly disposing of stool daily and covering sandboxes when not in use. Special measures may need to be taken to decontaminate an area. Minimize exposure to potentially contaminated environments and practice good hygiene such as washing hands often after handling stool or petting your animal. Additional information can be found on the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) website, www.parasitesandpets.org. and the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/healthypets/index.htm.
Testing your pet for parasites. A stool sample is examined under the microscope to check for the presence of eggs or larvae of common parasites. A blood test can check for Giardia. Depending on patient health, preventive medication and lifestyle factors, the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends conducting a stool exam:
Treating your pet. CAPC recommends:
Not using a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination increases the risk of parasitism in pets and transmission to man. Additional diagnostic tests and deworming medication are recommended in this situation. CAPC recommendations include: