Q – What types of internal parasites can my pet get from the environment?
A – Internal parasites live in the gastrointestinal tract of your pet and can include roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.
Q – How does my pet get infected with these parasites?
A – Roundworm and hookworm eggs are ingested in the environment from fecal contamination. Tapeworms are transmitted through ingestion of a specific insect vector, like fleas. It is important to note that certain worms can be transmitted between species in your household as well (example: cats to dogs and vice versa).
Q – What are some of the lifestyle factors that put my pet at risk of infection with internal parasites?
A – For dogs, risk factors include acreage/farm dogs exposed to wildlife or carcasses, coprophagia (eating animal feces), multi-pet households, or those who frequent dog parks, dog day care, and other public dog areas. For cats, risk factors include outdoor cats that hunt small mammals, coprophagia, and multi-pet households.
Q – How do I know if my pet is infected with parasites?
A – Most often, there are NO signs associated with internal parasite infection. In severely affected animals symptoms can include: visualization of worms in the feces, weight loss, increased appetite or vomiting.
Q – Can some of these parasites be transmitted from my cat or dog to people?
A – Yes. Internal parasites such as roundworms are transmitted through environmental contamination with infected animal feces. The risk level of parasite transmission to humans depends on many factors including – degree of parasite burden in the pet, personal hygiene/hand washing, immune status, and age (children are at higher risk).
Q – What can I do to treat or prevent parasite infections in my pet?
A – Routine preventative deworming is the best way to keep your pet healthy and to prevent transmission of parasites to people. Have a discussion about your pet’s risk level with your veterinarian and that will determine treatment type and frequency.
**Remember – Intestinal and external parasites are specific to the region you live in or travel to. Only a veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate treatment for your pet that will be safe and effective.
For more general information, please visit http://www.petsandparasites.org/