Parasite Infections & Transmission
Most dogs and cats will contract some form of parasite infection within their lifetime. Almost half the kittens and puppies we see at the clinic have some, regardless of their breeder or where they come from. Common ones include tapeworms, roundworms, other gastrointestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, ear mites, or heartworm disease. Like many things in life, parasite infections are far easier to prevent than treat.
Furthermore, many parasitic diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans. This makes early detection paramount for protecting not just your pet, but you and your family members, too. That’s why we make screening for parasites a routine part of our pet wellness check-ups.
Symptoms of Parasite Infections
Parasites often remain quiet, and your pet will only start showing signs when the diseases they cause have advanced. All pet owners should recognize the warning signs and seek treatment as soon as you can.
Fleas live within the fur and leave “flea dirt” scattered beneath the fur. They cause itching, redness of the skin and general discomfort.
Ticks will be visible as small brown or grey “skin tags” on the surface of the skin surrounded by an irritated red patch of skin. Some ticks spread Lyme disease and we, unfortunately, diagnose it more often than we like to at our clinic. The symptoms are serious, long-lasting, and include weakness, poor appetite and swollen joints.
Ear mites cause extreme itching within the ears and you may recognize it from the presence of dry, dark-brown debris within the ear canal. If your pet is shaking its head or tilting it from side-to-side and pawing at their ears in discomfort, bring them in for a checkup.
This is one parasite that will go unnoticed until the symptoms progress and become dangerous. Your pet may experience weakness and lethargy, exercise intolerance and a cough. Severe and advanced infections cause breathing difficulties, a swollen fluid-filled belly, and unfortunately death.
These include tapeworms, roundworms, and other intestinal parasites. Most infections begin with no symptoms but eventually, your pet may develop diarrhea, blood within the stool, weight loss, a poor coat, a bloated abdomen, vomiting and even a cough. Intestinal parasites can easily transmit to humans and make us very sick as well.
Parasite Infections: Diagnosis & Treatment
Pet wellness checkups allow us to screen for parasites through physical examinations, as well as laboratory tests which include blood work and fecal analysis. When the tests come back negative, we all celebrate together! We will counsel you to administer parasite-prevention supplements regularly. Almost always, this prevents parasite borne diseases from occurring.
Sometimes, unfortunately, even your best attempts to protect your pet can fall short. But the supplements help to slow down the progression of the disease so the treatment can successfully take hold.
About Wellington Veterinary Hospital
Wellington Veterinary Hospital is operated by Dr. Cliff Redford, a veterinarian with over two decades of experience. Our caring and passionate team of professionals provides a full range of services for your canine and feline companions. We are always delighted to meet new pets, answer your questions and offer preventative health care tips during free assessments with our veterinary technicians. Our location in Markham, Ontario offers plenty of free parking, convenient operating hours and a 24-hour emergency call line.