Pets and Parasites: What You Should Know

Your dog and cat are members of the family. As such, you want to keep them happy and healthy. A big part of keeping your animals healthy is ensuring they don’t have any parasites. Parasites are a common issue among cats and dogs, and while they’re never fun to deal with, it’s important to know how to handle them. Left untreated, parasites can cause serious health issues in your pets. 

How Pets Become Infected with Parasites Parasites are sneaky creatures that can infect your pets a variety of ways. The most common way pets contract a parasite is through ingesting a parasite egg. The egg is typically concealed in soil, water, or feces. Fleas are also a type of parasite that live on your pets, but they also contain other parasites such as tapeworms. When a dog or cat eats a flea, the tapeworm is passed onto the animal.

Signs your Pet is Infected with a Parasite Fleas and ticks are two parasites that are easy to find on your pet. You can usually spot these pests by running a comb through your pet’s fur. Intestinal parasites, on the other hand, are a bit harder to detect. These parasites live in your pet’s intestinal tract and lay eggs or spores within your pet’s body. These eggs are eventually dispelled through poop. Other signs of intestinal parasites include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and coughing, among other symptoms. Even with these signs, however, it can be difficult to determine your pup has intestinal parasites. In many cases, pets are even asymptomatic. Your beloved pup or feline friend may be harboring a parasite without your knowledge. Since it’s so difficult to tell if your animal has an intestinal parasite, annual vet check-ups are even more important. During the annual exam, your vet can check your pet’s health and do a fecal test to ensure there are no parasites hiding inside your furbaby.

Why it’s Important to Treat Parasites Right Away Even if your pet is asymptomatic to a parasite, speedy treatment is still important. Parasites live off your pets and cause malnutrition. They can also make your pet very sick and result in vomiting and diarrhea. Some parasites can even be passed on to people. This is just one more reason why you should treat any parasites you see as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Parasites Parasites are easier to prevent than people realize. To start, make sure your pet’s environment is clean and healthy. Change drinking water regularly and keep bedding clean. It’s also important to remove feces from your pet’s environment on a weekly basis. Parasites are attracted to feces and if your pet steps in the fecal matter, a parasite can cling to your pet and become attached.  Another effective way to prevent parasites is to invest in medication. Most heartworm medications also prevent a variety of other parasites from infecting your pet. Some people think heartworm medication and flea and tick prevention are unnecessary, but this medicine actually protects your pet from a lot of different parasites. If your pet doesn’t take heartworm medication, talk to your vet about the various parasite prevention medications you can start.