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June 17, 2011 > Veterinary & Pet News: Pets and parasites

Veterinary & Pet News: Pets and parasites

It is fairly common for pets to be infected with internal or external parasites at some point in their lives. Parasites can affect animals in many ways, ranging from simple irritations to life threatening illnesses if left untreated. Like any family member, it is important to keep your pet healthy and parasite free. Parasites are amongst the simplest and most preventable of diseases.

Zoonoses is not a disease that you get from going to the zoo! Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. For example, certain worms such as roundworms can be transmitted to people from the environment. Fortunately, these parasites can be prevented with monthly parasite control available from your veterinarian.

Intestinal Parasites
Pets suffer from several different parasites including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, coccidia, Giardia, and whipworms. The most common are Roundworms that infest nearly all kittens and puppies. Tapeworms are also a common parasite, usually transmitted by fleas.

A very serious problem for both dogs and cats, Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and can kill or severely debilitate pets that are infected. The heartworms travel from the skin to the heart, lungs and bloodstream. A simple blood test can be determine if your pet has heartworms in as little as 15 minutes. The American Heartworm Society estimates that 27 million dogs are not on preventive medicines, leaving them at risk for this deadly disease.

External Parasites
Fleas are the most common parasite, omnipresent in this area. Your pet will be exposed to them regardless of environment. For each flea seen, 100 others are not visible. Fleas transmit tapeworms and other parasites. Ticks are another nuisance for local pets and seem to be increasing in our area. They are vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease.

What can you do?
Fortunately, problems caused by parasites can be controlled. Prescription products available from your veterinarian help pets repel these parasites at a cost of a few dollars a month. With this protection, your pet can be comfortable and safe.

Additional tips:
* Have your pet tested every six months for intestinal parasites and annually for heartworms. All new pets to the household should be tested and treated upon entry into your household.

* All puppies and kittens should be de-wormed and all pets should be on monthly preventatives for parasites.

* Pickup pet waste daily and cover sandboxes to protect them from fecal contamination.

* Teach children to wash there hands and do not let them put dirt in their mouth.

* Treat pets with monthly preventives for worms, heartworms, and flea/tick control. Studies indicate human companions have a poor record of compliance giving these products regularly and on schedule.

Making sure your pet is on a year-round parasite control program is good health care for your pet, your family, and your community.

Dr Raj Salwan is a second generation Veterinarian and has been around Veterinary Medicine for over 23 years. His interests include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Emergency/Acute Care, and general small animal practice. He currently works at American Animal Care in Fremont and can be reached via email at or

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