Not Your Average Flea: Other Parasites that Can Harm Your Pet
Each spring, most pet owners turn their attention to the warmer weather, opportunity for outdoor reaction, and, of course, those nasty parasites that truly bug us. These fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are the bane of most of our outdoor fun. These parasites also bother our pets, so it’s no doubt that the responsible pet owner will maintain parasite preventives to reduce their risk of vector-borne disease.
But what about those other parasitic pests that can harm pets? There are actually a few lesser known parasites that cause health problems for our four-leggeds, and sometimes for us, too.
Read on as the team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital explains other parasites that can harm your pet.
Lesser Known Parasites that Can Harm Your Pet
It’s great practice to keep your pet on flea and tick and heartworm preventives. These are among the most common parasites that harm furry ones. But there are others that aren’t on the radar that you probably don’t consider.
Ringworm – Ringworm is a type of fungus that mostly affects young pets as they are still developing their immunity. Sometimes adults can acquire them if they are immunocompromised. The signs of ringworm are lesions that appear on the head, neck, arms, and paws. They are spread through direct contact between pets.
Roundworm – Roundworm is an internal parasite, which appears as long, white strings of spaghetti. These worms live in the intestine and can grow longer than 3 inches. The signs of roundworm include coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Roundworm can be spread to children as well.
Hookworms – These worms live inside the digestive tract and are transmitted from the mother to the puppies/kittens. You may have noticed that de-worming in a must for puppy and kitten wellness, as hookworms are very common. Hookworms cause diarrhea and weight loss if left untreated.
Flatworms – Flatworms are another internal parasite that resides in a pet’s GI tract. They are prevalent in wildlife, such as raccoons, as well as dogs. The symptoms of flatworm infection include itching, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.
Whipworm – This parasite attaches itself to the intestinal wall and feeds off of the host’s blood. These parasites can be passed to other pets and people through the feces. Signs of whipworm include bloody diarrhea and weight loss.
Giardia – Giardia is a parasite that causes severe diarrhea. It feeds off of the host (raccoons, skunks, deer, cattle etc.) and is passed on through the feces of the infected animal. Giardia is often picked up from drinking stagnant water that has the parasite in it, such as cattle ponds, diteches, etc. Giardia is also zoonotic, meaning that it can affect humans.
Leptospirosis – In the past twenty years, this bacterial disease is becoming more prevalent as humans are encroaching upon areas where there is wildlife. Leptospirosis is also a problem where there are citrus trees that attract rats and other wild animals that carry the bacteria. This infection is serious and can cause kidney damage and even death, if untreated, in both pets and people.
Coccidia – This tiny single-celled parasite lives in the walls of the intestines. Like most internal/intestinal parasites, they are more frequently found in puppies. Pets become infected by eating soil or feces infected with the parasites. Signs include diarrhea, but more severe infections can lead to blood in stool and anemia.
Mange – Mange is a parasite that develops on the skin and causes loss of fur, scaling and dryness, itchiness and infection. Mange is mostly found among young pets and those who do not have strong immunity, such as those with certain diseases or illness.
Parasites Among Us
This is only a sample of the parasites that reside in our world. In most cases, pets who are in good health and are currently on vaccines and parasite prevention avoid these foes. If your pet is sick or is otherwise immunocompromised, or your pet is still a kitten or puppy, it is suggested that you speak to your veterinarian about their risk.
If you would like more information on parasites that can harm your pet, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.