Keeping your pet safe from parasites is an integral aspect of pet care. This process starts at an early age, as nearly 90% of kittens and puppies are born with parasitic infections such as roundworm from the mother. Intestinal parasites can affect growth and development in young animals, as well as cause diarrhea and weight loss. Diagnosis is through fecal exams to detect microscopic eggs. These eggs are shed in a cyclic manner, so it is important to check multiple fecal samples. External parasites may be spread through contact with other animals that are infested, or from contaminated environment..
Common internal parasites include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia.
Common external parasites include fleas, ticks, lice or mites.
Treatment of parasites:
Deworming medications for internal parasites (anthelmintics) vary depending on your pet’s age, current medical status, and type of parasite. While the dewormers used today are very safe there can be side effects, so it is important to administer the medication as prescribed. Typically, newborn puppies and kittens are dewormed every two weeks starting as early as 4 weeks old. They should continue a schedule of deworming until their stool samples are free of parasites.
Treatment of external parasites also depends on current medical status and type of parasite. Heartworms live in the heart, can damage both the heart and lungs, and entails a complicated treatment that takes weeks to months. A flea infestation can also take months to eradicate, as female fleas lay 50-100 a day that may not hatch for months. Fleas and ticks also spread other diseases such as tapeworm, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. Prevention of these parasites is much simpler than treatment and essential to your pet's health!
How to prevent parasites:
Both internal and external parasites are known for their ability to continually re-contaminate their host and the environment. In most cases the outside environment can not be decontaminated. Preventative products such a Heartgard and Interceptor prevent heartworm as well as many intestinal parasites. Nexgard and Frontline are monthly products that prevent fleas and ticks. These products should be used on a monthly basis long term - for the life of your pet. Pet waste from infected dogs should be removed on a daily basis, and wiping your pets rear end after defecating is helpful in preventing re-infection.