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(407) 862-6892


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Providing Veterinary care for Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Maitland, and the Greater Orlando Area.

Veterinary Services, Parasite Control

Understanding Parasites

Parasite control means protecting your pet against multiple species of external and internal parasites that can affect your dog or cat. While a single injection would be an ideal manner in which to treat such concerns, there is no one injection that can resolve these problems. External parasites are generally controlled through monthly preventive therapies in the forms of topical applications or pills given orally. Internal parasites are often treated as the infections are noted upon intestinal parasite exams with medications that are given either orally or through injection.

It is thought that 30% to 50% of dogs and cats carry gastrointestinal (GI) parasites and that 1 to 3 million people in the U.S. have infections from the same parasites carried by pets. Children, the elderly, and immune-compromised people are at high risk for becoming infected by the parasites carried by pets. While there are products available over the counter that state they will “deworm” your pet, not all parasites can be treated with the same medication to resolve the different types of parasites your pet may have.

Types of Parasites

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There are two types of GI parasites that are often seen by pet owners without the assistance of a microscope. These are roundworms (long strands that resemble spaghetti) and tapeworms (which resemble grains of rice). Other types of GI parasites that are commonly found in pets, although not seen by the naked eye, are hookworms, whipworms, giardia, and coccidia. Dogs and cats get infected with GI parasites by walking in places where other infected animals have defecated. The microscopic eggs and larvae end up on your pet’s feet, your pet then licks his or her feet, and in turn, your pet becomes infected with these GI parasites. Three weeks later, your pet may be shedding eggs and larvae from the parasites in his or her stool. If your pet is infected, it is possible for you or your child to become infected with these parasites.

Can They Affect Humans?

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While we don’t often hear about humans with roundworms or hookworms, we can get them through ingestion of the eggs that our pets may be shedding in their stools. The eggs are often transmitted to children who have played outside in areas where infected pets have defecated and who then put their hands in or near their mouths when outside or before washing hands. Even petting an infected pet near the rectal region and then not washing hands properly can help spread the eggs among humans if not careful. Generally, as the transmission is fecal to oral, if you are aware of good sanitary habits, you can avoid getting any intestinal parasites from your pets.

Other parasites that can affect your pet’s health are external parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and skin mites. These can also transmit certain diseases to people. Ticks can transmit lyme disease, ehrlichia, rocky mountain spotted fever and other diseases when allowed to feed off you or your pet’s blood. Fleas can transmit tapeworms to your pets, as well as cause anemia and severe pruritus (itchiness). Due to the severe pruritus, your cat or dog can create secondary skin infections as he or she scratches excessively in irritation from the bites of the fleas. Skin mites can be either demodectic mites or sarcoptic mites. Demodex, which causes fur loss or thinning of the fur, is extremely rarely transmitted from pet to human but anyone who may be immune-compromised should be cautious. Sarcoptic mites can be transmitted from pet to pet as well as pet to human easily and may cause severe fur loss as well as extreme pruritis. This in turn can lead to secondary skin infections due to excessive scratching by your pet.

Mosquitoes and Heartworms

Mosquitoes are another concern for pets as they can transmit heartworms when they take a blood meal. Dogs, cats, and ferrets can become infected with this parasite year round in warm climates since it is spread by mosquitoes. Pets that do not go outside are still at risk for infection as mosquitoes still get into the house!! Heartworms take four to six months to mature before they can be detected by blood tests, and if not treated, the disease causes severe side effects that can be fatal. Your pet will not likely show any symptoms of heartworm disease in the early stages, but eventually infected pets develop signs such as a cough, weakness, exercise intolerance, and an enlarged abdomen. Heartworms are parasites that do not affect people, but can cause devastating disease or even death in our pets if left untreated. Yearly heartworm screening tests are designed to catch the infection while it is still in the early stages and we have the best chance at successful treatment. Monthly heartworm prevention is the best way to stop your pet from getting this life threatening infection.

Concerned about Parasites with your pet? Don’t delay! Call Today…(407)-862-6892

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Contact Information

  • Westmonte Animal Clinic
  • 230 S. Wymore Road
  • Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
  • (407) 862-6892

After Hours Emergencies

  • Veterinary Emergency Clinic of Casselberry
  • 195 Concord Drive
  • Casselberry, FL 32707
  • (407) 644-4449