Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe from Pesky Parasites
There are few things more heartbreaking than watching your beloved pet suffer from the effects of parasites. These pesky little creatures can cause a few problems for your furry friends, from severe itching and irritation to malnutrition and even death.
You can take several measures to help prevent your pet from becoming infected with parasites. Read on to learn more.
What Are Pet Parasites?
Pet parasites are small creatures usually transmitted through contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces. When parasites enter an animal’s body, they live in the blood or tissues and take their nutrition from their host. This can make your pet sick, and in some cases, the parasites can be deadly.
Sometimes, they burrow into the skin and cause irritation, or they may lay their eggs in the animal’s fur. Under these circumstances, the animal can become a host for the parasites’ young, making the infestation much worse.
While small puppies and kittens are most vulnerable to parasites, all pets can be at risk. Parasites are more common in some areas, and pet owners should be aware of their dangers.
How Do Parasites Get into Pets?
Most parasites are transmitted by insects, such as fleas and mosquitoes. These insects bite the animal and then deposit the parasite into its bloodstream. The parasite then travels to the animal’s heart, lungs, or intestines, where it begins to grow and reproduce.
Other parasites are transmitted through contact with contaminated soil or water. For example, giardia is a type of protozoan that can be found in contaminated water sources. When an animal drinks water that contains this parasite, it can become infected.
What Are the Symptoms of Parasitism in Pets?
The symptoms of parasitism vary depending on the type of parasite and the animal’s overall health. In general, parasites can cause:
- Weight loss
Some parasites also cause anemia, leading to pale gums, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, animals may collapse and die.
Other symptoms include:
- Blood in the stool
- Difficulty urinating
How to Prevent Parasites in Pets
Here are some ways to prevent parasites in your pets:
- Cat and dog vaccinations and parasite prevention. Vaccinating your pet against common diseases, including rabies and distemper, can help prevent them from becoming infected with parasites. Vaccines are also available to prevent your pet from becoming infected with heartworm, a parasitic worm in the animal’s heart and lungs.
- Keep your pet clean. Regular bathing and grooming can help remove parasites from your pet’s fur. Use a mild shampoo that won’t irritate your pet’s skin.
- Check your pet’s stool regularly. Inspecting your pet’s stool for parasites is one of the best ways to prevent an infestation. If you see anything unusual, take your pet to the vet for a checkup.
- Avoid contaminated areas. Avoid areas where other animals have defecated when you’re out walking your dog. If camping or hiking, boil any water before letting your pet drink it.
- Regular vet checkups. Taking your animal companion to the vet for regular checkups can help prevent parasites. Your vet can check for parasites and diagnose any problems early. You can also ask your vet about parasite-prevention products, such as spot-on treatments and oral medications.
- Keep your pet away from other animals. If you are unsure whether another animal has parasites, keeping your pet away from them is best.
- Use insect repellent. Repellents can help keep insects away from your pet and reduce the risk of them becoming infected with parasites. There are several products available so ask your vet first before using one.
- Proper nutrition. A healthy diet can help boost your pet’s immune system and prevent parasites. Feed your pet a balanced diet that includes all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
The Bottom Line
Pet care involves many aspects, such as providing proper nutrition, exercise, and dental care (see a dog or cat dentist here). You must also be aware of the risks posed by parasites. You can help prevent your pet from becoming infected with these dangerous creatures with simple precautions.