Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms are some of the most common afflictions that pets suffer from. They can have a lot of different symptoms such as pain, sickness, and even death, and diseases can be spread to human family members.
Here are some descriptions of some of the most common parasites in dogs and cats:
- Heartworms: Heartworm disease in pets is a serious and potentially fatal disease in the United States, along with many other parts of the world. It is caused by worms that live inside the body, which causes lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. A single mosquito bite is enough to transfer a heartworm to a dog or cat, therefore, regular testing and prevention is required.
- Fleas: Fleas are tiny bugs that live in the fur of a cat or dog. They are known to cause dermatitis, bacterial infections, allergies, and hair loss. To check if your pet is infested with fleas, groom your pet regularly and look for black specks that look like dirt in the fur. You may also notice your pet scratching and chewing at their coat and skin.
- Ticks: Ticks are small, blood-sucking bugs that can cause a number of serious canine tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It is imperative to check your dog or cat for ticks regularly, especially if they go outside frequently.
- Intestinal parasites: Ringworms, hookworms, tapeworms, etc. are all classified as intestinal parasites, since they live inside the gastrointestinal tracts of their hosts. Since this category is large, a number of different symptoms can occur, so it is best to talk with a veterinarian to discuss treatment and prevention.
Younger animals have the highest risk of infection due to their immature immune systems. Thus, it is important to begin parasite prevention as soon as possible.