The management and control of diseases in our household pets that are caused by gastrointestinal parasites have become especially important because of the increasing public awareness of the potential zoonotic implications for humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate more than 10,000 cases of human infections with roundworms per year. It is known that 90% of puppies are born with roundworms or acquire them shortly after birth from their mothers. Because of these potential human health hazards, veterinarians have developed reliable diagnostic procedures to help identify companion animal parasitic organisms. The collection and testing of small animal fecal samples is a critical factor in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of transmission of gastrointestinal parasitism in the family pets.
Another potential life-threatening parasite which affects your family pet is Heartworm Disease, which in 2001, more than 244,000 dogs in the United States tested positive for. Heartworm disease is transmitted to your dog through the bite of infected mosquitoes with heartworm larvae. This disease can be prevented with annual testing and preventive medications.
Here are some ways to reduce the risks of parasites for the animal and human members of your family:
- Give your pet flea and tick preventative treatments prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Pick up pet feces in your yard.
- Keep a close eye on your dog while out walking to prevent them from eating or drinking off the ground.
- Avoid letting your dog go into streams or creeks, which can harbor parasites and diseases.
- Don’t feed your pets raw meat.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating.
Vigilance on your part is well worth it to protect the health of you and your pets!