Monsters Inside (of You…)

I’m going to bring up a subject that might make some people a little squeamish, but it is very important not just for your pet, but you and your family as well. I’m going to talk about worms, not earth worms or meal worms, but the nasty little ones that could be hiding inside the GI tract of your furry friends as you read this. More specifically I want to focus on round worms and hookworms, both are very common intestinal parasites, and both are easily transmissible to people.

The severity of disease your pet may experience can range from nothing, to a mere nuisance, to death. These worms can leach nutrients and even blood from your pet causing anything from weight loss and a rough hair coat to life-threatening anemia.

From the start, most puppies and kittens are infested with intestinal parasites. This is due to the round worm eggs easily cross through the placenta and via the mammary gland, so unless Mom was on an appropriate deworming schedule before and during pregnancy, her babies will have worms. A very easy to give and safe dewormer can be used in even the very young to get rid of the most common parasites and in recommended in all pups and kittens. Once cats and dogs get beyond they puppy/kitten stage they are not out of the internal parasite woods, certain parasites can easily re-infest pets via fecal-oral transmission and contaminated ground or water sources. Monthly products to fend off these parasites are essential to keeping you and your pet healthy.

Regular fecal exams (at least once per year) can be used to detect parasites and ensure that the preventatives are working. Remember, most of the time pets shed microscopic eggs, so they may be present in even normal-looking stool.

Not only is it a benefit to your pet to stay intestinal parasite free, as I mentioned before, it is best for you and your family as well. Both round worms and hookworms (along with many other parasites) are zoonotic (meaning YOU can get them from dog/cat). Fecal-oral transmission is quite common, so appropriate hygiene is a key to preventing transmission. Hookworms do not require anything more than skin contact to be transmitted to not only personal hygiene, but environmental hygiene is also important. Children are by far at the biggest risk of ingesting parasite eggs, as often they lack good hygiene, stick everything in their mouths, lick the dog or cat, etc.… (I have a two-year-old so I know...) Round worm migration can cause GI disease, a cough or even blindness!!

So again, with all this being said, prevention is KEY. Have fecal exams performed regularly, deworm your puppies and kittens adequately and use monthly preventatives (like Heartgard- not just for heart worms) because they could save not only your pet’s life but your own.