What’s Buggin’ Your Pet?
Hello Colorado Springs, this is your local veterinarian from Crossroads Animal Hospital touching on a not-so-popular, but very important, health topic about your pet: parasites, parasites, parasites.
Heartworms, Roundworms, and Tapeworms, Oh My!
Did you know that even if your pet spends most of its time indoors it can still contract parasites? Mosquitoes are the transmitter of heartworms to your dog (and very rarely, cats). Colorado Springs does not have as many reported cases of heartworm as, say, Pueblo, but we still see cases of this deadly, but preventable, disease. Heartworm parasites lodge in your dog’s heart and do chronic damage, which can lead to heart failure. It is a slow building problem that occurs over many months to a couple of years. Because of this, it can be difficult to recognize the symptoms. Your vet can do a simple heartworm test to make sure your pet is not infected.
There are many types of heartworm prevention, so ask your vet which ones he/she recommends for your pet.
Roundworms and tapeworms are common GI parasites that I surprisingly still see a lot of. These disgusting parasites grow and live in your dog and cat’s GI tract and continuously rob your pet of vital nutrients and do damage to the GI tract, which prevents proper absorption of nutrients. Your dog usually picks up roundworms by ingesting or licking feces from other dogs. In very rare cases, people can contract roundworms from their pets if they unknowingly ingest these microscopic eggs. Also, hookworm eggs/ cysts, that are passed by other dogs can unknowingly penetrate your bare foot and travel and grow under your skin. This is a rare disease called cutaneous larval migrans. These are called a zoonotic infection (transferred from animal to human). That is why the CDC recommends all dogs be given a monthly dewormer in order to reduce this risk. Most heartworm monthly preventatives will take care of both heartworms and roundworms.
Tapeworms seem to still be hanging around, as well. These gross worms shed rice-like segments called proglottids, which contain numerous eggs inside. Your dog or cat either eats a proglottid or eats a flea or louse that has ingested one of those microscopic eggs in a proglottid. I still see tapeworms spring through fall all the time from clients who bring in the actual proglottids to routine fecal testing (DP). Your vet will know how to test and treat these parasites, so have your pet’s feces checked at least once a year. If your pet spends a lot of time outside, then fecal testing twice a year may be needed.
These parasites are damaging to your pet, but are easily prevented. Talk to your vet regarding his/her recommendation for your pet, or come see us at Crossroads Animal Hospital, where your pet is our family.
Craig S. Hyden, DVM