When you have a cold or the flu, you never worry your pets will catch your bug since most sicknesses caused by viruses don’t transfer from people to pets. However, dogs and cats can pick up real bugs – known as parasites – that can negatively affect the health and comfort of you and your family. Learning to recognize four parasites that can pass from dogs and cats to people and how they spread will help to keep everyone healthy.
Even if your dog or cat is mostly indoors, they still may bring fleas into your home. Fleas, like mosquitoes, feed on the blood of animals. Cats and dogs often scratch, lick and shake their heads when they are affected by fleas and itchy flea bites. Fleas bite people when they have infested your home. They cling to pant legs and socks, often biting on the ankles and lower legs. Fleas can also cling to and bite babies and toddlers who crawl on the floor. To prevent fleas from affecting your pets and their people, treat your pets with an oral monthly flea control medicine available from your veterinarian.
Especially if your pet spends time outdoors in wooded or grassy areas, ticks can be a major concern. Like fleas, ticks feed on the blood of animals. Unlike fleas, however, ticks remain in one place for an extended time. They don’t dislodge easily, and they carry diseases that can cause both pets and people to become sick, disabled or even die. The same preventative medicines used to control fleas also prevents ticks from biting your pet. Pet parents should check their pets as well as their own hair and clothes for ticks after being outdoors in summer months.
Dogs and cats may contract tapeworms – a parasite that attaches to the lining of the intestines – through flea bites or from tapeworm larva that come out of the feces of an infected animal. Infected pets often show no symptoms, except white-colored segments may be seen in your cat’s litter box or wherever your pet does his business. Tapeworms can infect humans through handling infected pet waste. Tapeworm infections in pets and people are treated with oral medicines.
Mostly found among cats, the toxoplasma gondii parasite that causes toxoplasmosis may spread to people through contact with feces in which the parasites have hatched (24 hours old or older). Cats (or dogs) that catch infected mice or other rodents are most at risk; people with compromised immune systems and women who are pregnant also are at risk. Cleaning your cat’s litter box daily and keeping pets from catching and eating rodents can prevent exposure to toxoplasmosis.
Serving more than 20,000 pets throughout the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, PetWow has offered top-notch animal care since 1998. Our fully mobile home veterinary care can help you prevent parasites from spreading among your pets and family. Call or schedule an appointment with Pet Wow today at 513-738-9691 or email Info@PetWow.com. For more pet care tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn!