What You Should Know About Zoonotic Parasites

Written By Dr. Gary Holfinger

If you've brought a new puppy or kitten to the clinic, you may have noticed that we include preventive worming for intestinal parasites as treatment for your new pet. It's an important mechanism to prevent humans from picking up pet parasites.

Some intestinal parasites (worms) that occur in pets are contagious to humans, with potentially devastating results. Roundworms (the spaghetti-looking worms of puppies and kittens) can potentially cause blindness or brain damage in infants. The adult roundworm can lay an astounding 10,000 eggs per day, and those eggs can remain in the environment for decades. Playing in dirt, the garden, or the sandbox are common areas of concern. For this reason, we worm new pets as part of our puppy/kitten vaccination package. We're trying to protect not just your pet, but also your family and your environment.

There are other parasite eggs that can remain in the soil for lifetimes, so your pet can become infected from strays and other pets who were in your yard decades ago. For that reason, we recommend checking a feces sample for parasite eggs at least once yearly for all pets, and twice yearly for pets who spend a lot of time outdoors.

We also recommend that you use a monthly heartworm medication that not only prevents heartworms and fleas, but also eradicates any parasite eggs your pet may have picked up. This protocol is recommended not only by ESAC but by the Companion Animal Parasite Council, a nationally recognized resource that provides recommendations and education for pet owners.

For more information, see "PetsandParasites.org"

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