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January: Parasite Prevention Month

As a responsible pet owner, one of your main goals is to keep your pet healthy and happy. Every dog or cat, whether they are an indoor or outdoor pet can become the host to a number of parasites. It is not unusual for a pet to become infected with multiple types of external and internal parasites in their lifetime.

Intestinal worms can cause severe discomfort and health problems to the infected pet. Fortunately, these parasites are easy to control, treat, and/or prevent.

Parasitic infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans are known as parasitic zoonoses.


In dogs, hookworms infection occurs through ingestion or skin penetration of hookworms larvae found in the stools or soil contaminated by feces of an infected animal. The larvae then develop and migrate to the intestines where they hook onto the intestinal wall and feast on the host’s blood. The larvae of hookworms can penetrate the skin and infect humans through contact with soil or sand.


Roundworms live in dog’s intestines and consume partially digested food. Adult worms resemble spaghetti and may come out in the feces or vomit. Transmissions to dogs are through eggs in feces, eating a prey animal that is a host (usually rodents), mother’s milk, or in utero. In dog’s roundworms cause diarrhea, vomiting and in extreme cases pneumonia and intestinal obstruction. In humans, roundworms can cause a serious condition known as visceral larva migrans, ocular larva migrans and cutaneous larva migrens.


The only way a dog can contract whipworms is by ingesting the eggs. When dogs walks on ground infected by eggs, they are picked up on the paws and travel into the mounth when he licks his paws or any contaminated toys or food bowls. Whipworm can cause diarrhea, weight loss and in some cases, anemia.

Routine checkups by your veterinarian – including a diagnostic test for worms and heartworm – as well as a physical exam along with medical prevention, will not only keep your dog healthy but will reduce any risk to you and your family.