Parasites are a constant danger to your pet that can range from an annoyance to life-threatening. In this post, our White House vets will go over some of the parasites that your pets are at risk of contracting and why it is so important to prevent the infection, and practice parasite control.
What Is A Parasite?
A parasite is an organism that feeds on your pet without offering any benefit. They steal nutrients from your pet and some can cause irreversible damage to your pet's organs.
Why Should I Worry If My Dog Doesn’t Interact With Other Animals?
Your pet doesn’t necessarily need to be near other animals to get infected because some methods of infection are insect bites, other animal feces and even being passed down from mother to child before they are even born. Once your pet is infected it is very difficult to get some parasites out of their entrenched location. This is why the best solution is to practice preventative measures. Some examples of parasites that your pet may have:
This parasite is often spread by mosquitoes. Once your pet is infected the worm will grow, reproduce, and spread throughout the pet's body. They got the name heartworm for their unfortunate habit of embedding in the heart muscle. They can be found in an infected pet's heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The issue with diagnosing them is that by the time the symptoms show the infection is quite severe. These worms can cause massive damage to internal organs. Humans are unlikely to get infected with this parasite.
This parasite can be passed in from mother to child before birth. It can also be transmitted by eggs that are excreted and then accidentally swallowed. The egg can live for weeks without a host and can also infect humans, especially human children (makes you question every sandbox you played in as a child). This can stunt growth and a pot belly appearance in pets. Also, worms come out of both ends.
These horrifying creatures can infect your pet either through consuming an infected mother's milk, consuming the eggs or they burrow into the skin. These creatures are little vampires that live off of the blood of animals by entering the GI tract and tearing holes in the lining causing ulcers which they feed from. They can prove deadly to young puppies and kittens and cause anemia in adult pets. These vile creatures can also burrow into human skin. Like roundworms, sandboxes are notorious for being the vector of transmission (why do we let kids play in sandboxes?).
These are flat, long, segmented parasites that attach to the walls of the small intestine. Cats are most commonly infected by the Dipylidium canine species, but several types are known to infect pets. Cats only become infected after swallowing a flea that has been infected with the tapeworm, this generally happens through grooming or as a response to flea bites. Humans are highly unlikely to be infected by tapeworms.
Tapeworm treatment includes deworming medications either in oral or injection form. The best way to prevent tapeworm infection in pets is through flea control treatments, especially in cats with outdoor access.
The classic pest that infests your pet’s fur. They are normally an annoyance, constantly biting and causing skin irritation. They can be a disease vector for tapeworms.
These little bugs bury their heads into the flesh of their victim. They can spread Lyme disease and can attack humans
Mites -- Mainly in Cats
Mites are tiny spider-like parasites that live on a cat’s skin or in the ear canals. They can cause substantial irritation, skin diseases as well as bacterial infections. The most common mite found in cats is the ear mite, which is generally found in the ear canal but can also live in other areas of the body. Other types of mites can cause scabies and trombiculosis.
The most common sign of mites in cats is constant scratching, head-shaking, licking, or biting, all of which can lead to wounds, scabs, inflammation, and hair loss.
The best way to prevent mites in your cat is with anti-parasite treatments, monitoring, and regular grooming. If you notice signs of these parasites, contact our White House vets right away for treatment options.
What Can I Do to Protect My Pet?
The best way to protect your pet is to keep up with their vaccinations. Your vet will be able to advise you of a schedule for inoculation. Make sure your pet goes for an annual wellness check so your vet can test for infestation.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.