Welcome to Heartworm and Gastrointestinal Parasite Prevention Month at Midlothian Animal Clinic! Last month we discussed the parasites that we see ON our pets, this month we are focusing on parasites that we can’t see IN our pets.
Pet owners sometimes ask me, ” Why do you always want me to bring in poop? I don’t want to…it’s gross.”
It’s All In The Poop
The truth is poop tells us a lot. It’s a dirty world and parasites are EVERYWHERE. Approximately 10% of the fecal exams we perform at our clinic are positive for a parasite. We will discuss heartworms, a blood parasite, in another blog this month. Today, we enter the world of gastrointestinal parasites, commonly called worms. The most common worms in our area are roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. These parasites live in soil. The eggs, invisible to the naked eye, are the infective stage and can live for years in the environment just waiting for a dog or cat to slurp them up. Once ingested, they mature inside our pets and begin to lay eggs which leave our pets through poop, and reinfect the environment. The adults living in our pets attach to the walls of their intestines and cause illness. Typically we see vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. However, many animals carry parasites for a long time before they become ill. Parasites are also deposited in our environment by wildlife.
Zoonotic Means What?
Here is the worst part; these parasites are zoonotic, which means they are transmissable to us and our families. In humans, the parasites do not stay in the gastrointestinal tract, but migrate around our bodies causing inflammation and destruction wherever they land. If they migrate to our eyes, they cause blindness. So, what can we do to prevent these nasty worms?
This is where the poop comes in.
The CDC recommends fecal tests on ALL pets, yes even indoor cats, once or twice yearly. At Midlothian Animal Clinic, we use a special technique called centrifugation to increase the likelihood of us finding parasite eggs when there are not many of them. Then, we perform a second technique called floatation to convince the eggs to rise to the top of the sample where we can see them. Finally, we place the sample under a microscope and look for the eggs. If we find any parasite eggs, we will prescribe a medication to kill them. For pets who do not have active infection, prevention is the key. All of the heartworm prevention we recommend for dogs and cats to be used year round also contain ingredients to kill gastrointestinal parasites.
So don’t be afraid to bring in the poop! You will be glad you did.
Ads always, if you have any questions please let us know in the comments below or give us a call us at (804)794-2099!