Are you worried about your pet’s health? Do you want to learn more about pet parasites? Then keep reading to find out everything you need to know to keep your dog healthy!
As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure our pet’s happiness and wellness. Pet parasites are a common occurrence, but in some cases, they could prove deathly to our dog or cat. It’s important to be informed so that you can take the necessary precautions or act at the first signs of trouble. So to help you, I’ve summarized everything you need to know about the 5 most dangerous pet parasites.
Most Dangerous Pet Parasites
As the name suggests, heartworms are parasites that infect the heart of the host. It takes one bite from an infected mosquito to transfer the parasite’s larva into the body of the pet.
After the initial infection, the larvae need several months to mature, but when that happens, the heartworm lodges into the heart, lungs, and arteries. And it starts to reproduce. A dog can have 250 heartworms in his body, imagine that. And they grow up to 12 inches in length and live about 5-7 years.
The good thing is that a dog can’t pass the parasite to other dogs or humans. But since mosquitoes are widespread, all cats and dogs are in danger of catching heartworms
If your dog doesn’t get treated, the heartworms are going to kill it eventually. The first symptoms are coughing and getting wind up easy. Fortunately, there is a treatment, but it’s expensive, and there is not a 100% guarantee that it will work.
So the smart thing to do is invest into heartworm preventive pills, topical creams or injections.
After heartworms, one of the most dangerous pet parasites is lungworm. As you can guess, this parasite invades the lungs in cats and dogs and might cause severe health issues.
Dogs and cats can get infected with lungworms when they drink contaminated water or eat infected animals such as birds, snails or slugs.
Once the dog ingests the infected larva, it travels to the lungs via the bloodstream. When it matures, it lays eggs in the lungs or airways which cause obstruction and shortness of breath. Pneumonia, emphysema, building up of fluids in the lungs are all possible complications.
So if you see that your pet is coughing up worms, it’s best to get to your vet as quickly as possible to rule our lungworms and get treatment.
Tapeworms are long white worms that infect both cats and dogs. They have hook-like suckers, which they use to attach to the walls of the intestines. Once that happens they start to feed and grow. That’s why sometimes your dog or cat might be thin even if she is eating for two.
There are several types of tapeworms, but fleas carry the most common one. Usually, a flea eats a tapeworm egg, and then the cat or the dog eats the flea and gets infected with the parasite.
Raise your pet’s tail when he is napping or after a nap and if you see white moving strips – that’s tapeworms, and you need to go to the vet for deworming pills.
Fortunately, it’s not easy for you to get infected with tapeworms unless you like eating fleas. However, dogs can carry one type of tapeworm called Echinococcus, which leads to the formation of cysts in the human body.
The name ringworm is slightly misleading. Ringworms are not worms, but fungi. They cause lesions on the head, ear, or paws of the animal and bald spots that look red in the center. In severe cases, your dog or cat might lose most of its fur. But it’s also possible for the animal to carry the fungi and show no symptoms. Another bad news is that ringworms are highly contagious. If one of your animals has it, it’s very likely that the others might also be infected. What’s even worse, these fungi can infect humans as well.
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The veterinarian will give you shampoo or a topical cream for your animals. However, the fungi can live for several months in the environment. Good personal hygiene and thorough disinfestations of the environment with bleach is necessary in case of an outbreak.
Has your dog vomited something that looks like spaghetti? Well, it’s not spaghetti, it’s roundworms. These worms swim in the intestines of our pets and deprive it of nutrition. If the infestation is severe, you might notice weight loss, potbellied appearance, diarrhea, and dull fur.
Usually, pets get infected with roundworms in two ways:
- through their mother’s milk
- eating the parasites’ eggs
Fortunately, most deworming treatments get rid of these disgusting worms quickly and efficiently. But it’s imperative that you disinfect your house with bleach to get rid of the parasite eggs and avoid reinfestation. Also, roundworms could pose a risk to your health if you come into contact with infected soil or feces. Most cases of human roundworms are mild ones, but a severe infestation can have dangerous complications like intestinal and duck blockage.
Parasites are so widespread that you have to be extra careful to protect your pet and family from them. Don’t skip a treatment and get your pet to the vet if you notice any change in his behavior. Remember that some parasites are dangerous to humans, especially young children that put everything in their mouths.