As pet owners, we have a great responsibility to keep our pets healthy. That includes the right diet, plenty of play and exercise and proper treatment for pests. Unfortunately, our pets are susceptible to pests such as fleas, ticks, and worms. We, as pet owners, need to ensure that our pets get the proper treatment for these parasites.
Types of Parasites
Roundworms are the most common internal parasite in cats and dogs, they are also known as nematodes. They usually infect your pet through feces. An infected pet can shed the roundworm eggs in the feces and other pets can get infected by sniffing or licking the infected feces. The roundworm then goes through the body of the pet as it grows from the egg to the larva to the adult roundworm. This is especially dangerous for the female pets, as the roundworms can be transferred to the young through the placenta. The eggs can also be spread to the mammary glands and passed through the young through the mother’s milk. Dogs mostly get roundworms as puppies.
Roundworms can be dangerous for our pets. Since the roundworms eat the food that is in the intestines, they prevent the young from getting the proper nutrients from the food. The roundworms can also become encased in cysts in the animal’s muscles leading to issues. In puppies, some signs that they may have roundworms might be stunted growth, a potbelly, and recurrent diarrhea. Roundworms can also be passed on to humans; children are especially susceptible to roundworms.
Tapeworms are another parasite that can infect your pets. Tapeworms are also ingested by your pets and eggs develop in the intestines of your pet. The tapeworm deprives your pet of nutrition by absorbing the food in the intestines through their skin. It is hard to detect tapeworms in your pet until the tapeworms absorb enough nutrients to make your pet ill.
Another worm that can infect your pets is the hookworm. They live in the gut of your pet and hook their teeth into the intestinal wall. Hookworms, when there are many, can cause anemia because they will suck the blood from the intestinal wall. In some severe cases, hookworms can cause death.
Still another type of worm is the whipworm. Read more about the whipworm here: https://www.petsandparasites.org/dog-owners/whipworms. They are only found in dogs. They also live in the gut of your dog where they quickly multiply. Whipworms can cause malnutrition, diarrhea, frequent stools that have blood and mucus.
Heartworms that usually cause heartworm disease – it does not live in the intestines of your pet. As the name suggests, the worm lives in the chambers of your pet’s heart. Cats can get heartworms, but they are more likely to be found in dogs. These worms can cause death in your pet.
These worms can also infect humans, especially children. They can cause similar issues in humans as they do in pets. Children can swallow roundworm eggs, causing damage to lungs, liver, and other organs. It can also affect the eyes, sometimes even causing blindness.
Hookworms can be picked up by walking barefoot in areas where pets have left their feces. Hookworms can cause a skin infection with red, spidery lines that are very itchy. Heartworms can be transferred to humans, but usually are not serious.
Tapeworms can cause Hydatid disease. This disease causes cysts of varied sizes that are filled with fluid. These cysts can be found in the liver and lungs, as well as other organs. Another type of tapeworm can develop cysts in the brain, which can cause serious illness.
There are products that can be used to treat and prevent worms such as Milbemax dog wormer which can be effective in treating all the above worms, see your veterinarian for suggested treatment. Treatment varies depending on the age of your pet.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are other pests that can bother your pets. Both pests feed on the warm blood of your pets. They are more common in warmer months but can be found at any time.
Pets that have many fleas can get anemia – this is a drop in red blood cells. Of course, puppies and kittens are most susceptible to anemia. Pets can get fleas from being outside in the yard. Fleas can lay up to 40-50 eggs per day, this can soon lead to an infestation in your yard, making it easy for your pets to be infested, as well.
You can tell if your pet has fleas if you see constant licking and scratching, you might also see white specks on your pet’s skin that could be flea eggs, or dark specks that could indicate flea droppings. You can find more information here. You may also see “hot spot” or scabs. Another way to find fleas is to use a fine-toothed comb and comb your pets. Good spots to check would be the belly and behind the neck.
Ticks are easier to be seen on your pets. They usually hide ears, eyes, neck, ears, and paws. Ticks carry disease, so it is best if you remove them as quickly as possible. The best way to remove a tick is to wear gloves and use a pair of tweezers. Grab the tick with the tweezers near the head of the tick and pull straight out. Do not worry if you leave the head of the tick – it rarely causes problems.
Pets get ticks from the yard and from walking in the woods. Ticks wait on tall grass or branches and catch a ride on your pet as they walk by. The are most common in warmer areas but can also be found in wooded areas in the northeast.
You can stop fleas and ticks by using a variety of preventatives. You can use a flea shampoo, but dish soap is just as effective and less harmful. Some flea shampoos for dogs can be deadly to cats, so be careful. Flea and tick collars can also be effective to keep these pests off your pets. There are also tablets that can help your pets. Some tablets can be given daily, while others are given monthly.
Your pets are important parts of your family, proper care means they can live many happy years with you!