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Parasite Prevention

As the summer is fast approaching, our furry companions are excited to get outdoors and stretch their legs. Of course, as pet owners we worry about protecting our animals against parasites like ticks and fleas that can hop onto your pet; but what about internal parasites? Unlike ticks and fleas, internal parasites are ones that live inside your pet and some can even be passed on to us. They can be contracted as easily as touching infected soil or getting bit by a mosquito.

One common internal parasite found in cats and dogs is roundworm. They are white and brown worms, about a few inches long, almost resembling the appearance of spaghetti. They can be transmitted from touching infected soil, from their mother’s milk, or from the ingestion of a rodent or another animals feces. After the parasite has been transmitted to our pets, it works its way into the intestines where if left untreated, can cause intestinal obstruction.

If your pet has fleas, there is a good chance they might also have contracted an internal parasite. Fleas can be a problem on their own, but they can also transmit tapeworm larvae and once on our pets, if ingested, they can begin to grow. Adult tapeworm are white flat worms that can range from 4-30 inches in size, made up of many different segments. As the parasite grows, some segments dry out and fall off the tapeworm and can be seen in the animal’s feces or around their bedding, looking like pieces of rice. Vomiting or weight loss may occur in a pet that has a large tapeworm infestation however this can be detected through a fecal sample.

What was once thought to not be a problem in Canada, Heartworm is now becoming a growing concern for us pet owners.  Transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, it can take 5 to 7 months before your animal may start to show any signs. “Baby” heartworm circulated through the blood stream and can cause damage to the lungs, and liver whereas adult heartworm clogs major vessels of the heart, causing congestive heart failure.

These are just a few of the internal parasites that your pet may be at risk for this summer. They key to making sure our pets stay safe from internal parasites is regular deworming all year round.  It is important to speak with your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle, and what method of prevention would be best for them to make sure they are fully protected inside and out.

Written by: Nikki Giles CCS

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