Spring has finally sprung! The weather is improving and dogs and cats that have been cooped up all winter are loving the outdoors! Unfortunately, that also means that you are very likely to encounter an "unwanted gift" (fecal matter) on the grass and even on the sidewalk while you take your pets for a walk. This can harbor intestinal parasite eggs that your pet can easily become infected with. A single parasite can produce up to 85,000 eggs per day, which are shed in the stool! Some eggs can survive over a year, are not killed by most chemical disinfectants, and can even survive extreme temperature conditions up to -80 degrees Celsius! This is why it is so important to clean up after your pet!
Rodents and insects that are also out enjoying the nice weather can carry these parasites too, and pass them to your pet. The most common types of parasites are roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. Other parasites not covered by regular deworming products are giardia and coccidia. All of these parasites have shown prevalence in the Chestermere area and have the potential to cause diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, poor fur coat and development, and even death if left untreated. Puppies and kittens are most susceptible.
Your pets may be harboring parasites with no adverse signs, but they are still able to spread them to other pets and humans. Parasites are often invisible to the naked eye and the eggs may require a microscope to be seen. All of these parasites can be detected by a simple fecal test at your veterinarian's office. This test can also detect giardia and coccidia, which are not covered by routine deworming products.
Prevention of intestinal parasites is also important to human health since these parasites are easily transferred from pets to people. Parasites can cause serious irreversible health problems. Roundworm eggs can cause visceral larval migrans, where the tiny worm larvae can migrate through our intestinal wall to other organs where they can grow to large sizes. If they travel behind the eye they can even cause blindness, and children are most at risk! A tapeworm identified in southern Alberta causes symptoms similar to invasive liver cancer!
We have also seen a number of ticks in the Chestermere area, even on pets that have not left their own backyard besides a regular walk in their neighborhood! There are a number of diseases that pets can contract from ticks, including Lyme disease, erlichiosis, anaplasmosis and rocky mountain spotted fever.
Parasite prevention is our best line of defense. Speak with your veterinarian at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573 about which deworming product is best suited to your pet's needs. Also, always clean up after your pet and wash your hands after doing so.
We recommend providing parasite prevention for your pet once a month from spring through fall, approximately May to October. If you have young children or people who are susceptible to picking up disease living at home (such as the elderly or immune compromised individuals), we recommend providing parasite prevention for your pet monthly all year round. Contact us to discuss a parasite prevention protocol for your pet to keep them and your family safe from these parasites!
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Jenkins, E., Gesy, K., Peregrine, A., Schwantje, H. "Newly found tapeworm potentially infective for people and dogs in central BC." Canadian Vet, Volume 8, Number 1. January/February 2013.