FAQs about Pets and ParasitesParasites
Find the answers to your common questions about pets and parasites from our Langley animal care practice.
Do fleas and ticks on my pet present a health risk to my family?
Yes. Fleas and ticks can carry and either directly or indirectly transmit several potential illnesses to humans. For example, Rickettsiosis (infection with Rickettsia) can be transmitted directly by ticks. Bartonellosis (infection with Bartonella) is transmitted between cats by fleas and then may spread to people. Also, fleas serve as an intermediate host for tapeworms, which can infect both your pet and humans.
What kind of internal parasites or worms can infect my cat or dog?
There are a number of intestinal worms that can infect dogs and cats, and they vary according to the species. In general, these include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms, and they are very prolific. In fact, one worm can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day, which are then passed in the pet’s feces and spread throughout the area the pet roams. Once in the environment, some of these eggs can remain infective and present a health risk for your pet and humans for years.
Are heartworms a parasite I should be concerned about for my pet?
Yes. Heartworms can be a very serious problem for both dogs and cats, especially those in mosquito-infested areas, as mosquitoes are a vector and intermediate host for the pest. Heartworms can kill or seriously debilitate pets that are infected with them. That’s because heartworms live in the bloodstream, lungs, and heart of infected pets. Our Langley veterinarians can do a blood test to determine if your pet has heartworm disease and a year-round preventive program is most effective to keep pets free of heartworms.
If my dog or cat has intestinal worms, how can these parasites infect humans?
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of pets and the most likely to be transmitted to humans. Humans can accidentally ingest infective worm eggs that have been passed through the pet’s feces and left in the environment. The eggs can then hatch in the human’s intestinal tract, and the immature worms can travel to various tissues in the body, including the eyes and brain, potentially causing serious infections.
Many parasites pose a risk to your cat. Parasites get around and even your pet or visiting pets can unwittingly bring them into your home, which is the last place you need an infestation. Whether you have an indoor cat or outdoor frolicker, it’s best to be proactive and protect your pet against fleas, mites, and more.
If your cat is scratching at its ears or shaking its head, ear mites, a highly contagious parasite that lives on the skin and feeds off the surface of the ear canal, could be the cause. A black or brown crusty discharge in the ears, with an appearance similar to coffee grounds, could be a sign that your cat has ear mites. General scratching could be the first sign of a flea problem. Internal parasites are, of course, invisible.
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