As much as we all love our pets, we hate to think about internal and external parasites that our pet could be carrying, and worse yet, the potential of affecting our own health.
There has been a lot of interesting studies done in recent years by CAPC, which is the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
The studies suggest that the incidence of parasites may be far greater that we ever thought, and that has brought about new recommendations to prevent parasites in our pets.
Internal parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, hookworms, and heartworm, as well a few other intestinal parasites like giardia.
External parasites include fleas and ticks, ear mites, and mange mites are of main concern.
Pets that frequent dog parks, playgrounds, or any areas where a lot of people and pets frequent can be exposed to a lot of parasite eggs in the stool of other pets. They can step in it and become infected before you even know it.
There is particularly high risk with an intestinal worm carried by raccoons, as well. Many people live near bush or rivers that are frequented by raccoons, and that parasite can easily infect pets.
Fleas and ticks can live year round in this climate, also. We find ticks more in forest or wooded areas.
Fleas love to live in carpets, and in cracks and crevices of your floors.
Your dog can easily be exposed to fleas when you're out for a walk in the warmer months, and suddenly you have fleas in your house and no idea where they came from.
Unfortunately, many of these parasites are zoonosis, meaning they can also infect humans.
Kids can be exposed to worm eggs while playing in a park that dogs frequent, if they come in contact with feces that contain the eggs from parasites. Such worms have the ability to affect the eyes and the brain, and can have serious permanent effects.
Although it may sound rare, these disease are on the increase in children living in more urban areas across North America.
So the best way to prevent these problems is to make sure your dog is on a monthly parasite prevention treatment, such as Sentinel, Revolution, or Interceptor. As veterinarians, we are able to determine which product will be best suited to your pet's lifestyle.
It is also a good idea to have your vet check a stool sample for parasites at least one a year.
It is best to be pro-active when it comes to parasite prevention, because your pet may never show a symptom of parasites, and yet may be a risk for exposing your family and others to these nasty creatures.
There is even a new website that will email you or text you when your pet is due for its treatment. See www. remindmypet.com.
Veterinarian and owner of Alouette Animal Hospital