Deworming your pet is an important part of keeping them healthy. Though animals can contract certain parasites year round, spring and summer are the most common time these parasites are looking for hosts. Animals can contract internal parasites such as worms, as well as external parasites including fleas, mites, and ticks. Contracting these parasites can involve ingesting infected hosts such as mice, squirrels, and gophers, or by coming into contact with infected animals, such as fox, coyotes, or other pets, and their feces. There are many different parasites your pet can contract that will affect their overall health.
External parasites, such as fleas and mites, cause itching, skin irritation, and infection. Fleas are a small, reddish brown insect that can be seen without a microscope, and although they cannot survive on human tissue, they will bite humans. Human fleas bites are usually three mosquito-like bites in a row or triangle, and cause similar symptoms as mosquito bites; itching, redness, and irritation. Ear mites cannot be seen without a microscope, however they do have very distinct clinical signs. Cats will often be scratching excessively at their ears, some to the point of drawing blood, and shaking their heads. If you look in their ears there will be dark red/brown debris and usually some inflammation. Ticks are known to spread various diseases to both humans and animals by latching on to draw blood from the host. Ticks do not tend to cause immediate clinical signs and are often not noticed on the pet until they are full.
Internal parasites include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and heartworm. These worms cause a variety of clinical signs including weight loss, poor hair coat, diarrhea, blood in their feces, vomiting, impaired growth a development and coughing. Some of these parasites can also be passed on to human adults and children. Humans can contract parasites by coming into contact with infected animal feces; children are at a higher risk as they play in sandboxes and parks.
Diagnosis of internal parasites can be done by looking at a fecal sample under the microscope. This process allows us to determine if parasites are present and what type of parasites your pet may have. External parasites can be diagnosed by looking at ear debris or a hair sample under the microscope. All of these parasites can be easily treated and prevented by deworming your pet on a regular basis. Certain pets may be at higher risks than others, such as a farm pets versus house pets. Depending on your pet's risk level, we can determine a routine deworming program to keep you and your pet healthy.
If you have any questions or concerns about parasites, please call us at 403-507-4412. We look forward to seeing you and your four-legged friends!
Amie Seidle, RVT
Shaylin Muller, RVT