Tiny Invaders Intestinal Parasites (Part 3 of 3)
Now for something really squeamish! Internal parasites! These are microscopic organisms that live inside our pets, and sometimes us! At least 14% of the human US population is infected with roundworms. Every year, 3 to 6 million people suffer from visceral larval migrans, or larva crawling through their organs. Every day, 2 of those people will suffer permanent loss of vision from ocular larval migrans, when the larva crawl through their eyeballs! Sadly, children are most often afflicted since they do not always wash their hands before touching their mouths or eating.
Immunocompromised people also have a high rate of infection. The above numbers only represent roundworms, one of several parasites! Pets also carry hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, heartworms, coccidia, giardia, toxoplasmosis and other parasites, many of which can infect people, and all of them have health risks for pets. When we bring pets into our homes, we also bring their parasites into our homes. Dogs and cats lick and eat things from outside, they lick their feet after they step in something, they lick their anus and occasionally eat feces! These behaviors are normal for pets, but will cause them to pick up parasites.
Even pets that live indoors 100% of the time, such as indoor cats, are not immune. We track in dirt, including fecal matter, on our shoes. We can also bring in fleas and ticks on our hair and clothing. 15% of potting soil for house plants contains roundworm eggs. Mosquitoes, flies, roaches, spiders and rodents can enter our homes uninvited, bringing the eggs and parasites with them. Dogs and cats are great hunters and will prey on bugs as well as rodents. Unfortunately, winter does not provide any protection, as some of these eggs can be frozen solid and still be infectious. The good news is that many of the parasites are preventable.
Firstly, practice good hygiene; wash your hands and teach children to wash their hands effectively. Secondly, heartworm preventatives will also kill roundworms, hookworms, and other parasites depending on the brand. They are available for dogs and cats, as oral tablets, chewables, or topicals. They must be given every 30 days, all year round. This applies to ALL brands. Our lives can get busy, it can be hard to stick to a schedule. All of the products do include stickers that you can place on a calendar. If you are fully entrenched in the digital age, try putting a monthly reminder in your smart phone, to go off at a time when you are at home with your pet. Some of the heartworm preventatives need to be given with food for full absorption, thus I recommend setting that reminder to coincide with your Pet’s breakfast or dinner.
As another option, our online pharmacy has a monthly subscription that will deliver a single dose every month. When it arrives on your doorstep, give it to your pet and it will show up again at the right time for the next dose. No remembering required.
Consult with your veterinarian about what products will work best for you and your pets. Buy your products at a veterinary office to ensure the quality and the manufacture guarantees (these are voided when sold over the counter).
Written by Dana Hatfield, D.V.M August 16, 2013 Back to blog