Parasites. The word alone can make a person cringe, especially if they have had firsthand dealings with the pesky buggers. During October, Eastown Veterinary Clinic will be offering savings on parasite preventatives, including Trifexis, Interceptor and Revolution.
But why is it so important to protect our pets from parasites?
Besides causing damage to the pet infested with parasites, these cling-ons can wreak havoc on other animals, and even people in some cases. Miranda Coon had no idea what was lurking within when she adopted her adorable little kitten, Blue. Miranda said she was getting ready with friends for her best friend’s wedding when ladies on bicycles rode up to the house.
“One of them had a tiny kitten tucked in her vest,” Miranda said. “They told us that they were on a long bike trip and they found the kitten all alone on a bike path in the middle of the woods. They couldn’t keep him so I volunteered to take him. He became the something Blue for the wedding.”
It was apparent to Miranda that Blue had fleas, and because of his bloated belly, Miranda assumed he had intestinal parasites. She scheduled an appointment at Eastown Veterinary Clinic, and it turned out to be just in time. Miranda had noticed a puncture in Blue’s face. After examining Blue, Dr. Tittle realized this was no simple puncture – Blue had a cuterebra, which is a fly larva that takes up residence under the skin. The cuterebra was removed, and Blue was sent home with medication to help him heal. But Miranda’s dealings with parasites on her precious kitten were far from over. Because it is very common for puppies and kittens to have intestinal parasites, Miranda was advised to bring in a stool sample for testing.
Testing of the stool revealed that Blue had a parasite party in his belly, with hookworms, roundworms and coccidia living it up in his intestinal tract. Eastown recommends testing kitten and puppy stool at least twice, and adult dog and cat stool at least annually. One negative fecal exam does not guarantee the pet is parasite-free. Parasite life cycles have several stages, including one where eggs are shed. Testing stool when the parasite is not shedding eggs can lead to a false negative. Testing another stool sample 3-4 weeks later allows young parasites to mature and shed eggs so that they may be detected in the sample. For the same reason, after a positive fecal test, it is recommended to test stool again every 3-4 weeks until two concurrent samples have been shown to not contain parasites. Miranda was grateful to have gotten the medication to treat Blue’s parasites.
“He was so little I don’t know what would have happened to him if he didn’t get treated,” Miranda said.
Besides treating the intestinal parasites, Dr. Tittle prescribed a monthly parasite preventative called Revolution. Revolution is a topical medication that protects against fleas, ear mites and lice, as well as against hookworms and roundworms.
“It’s super convenient that it prevents the fleas and worms with one dose,” Miranda said.
Though Blue will be mostly indoors, Miranda said she plans on continuing the Revolution. Even indoor-only cats can be at risk for contracting parasites, and Miranda knows the importance of keeping Blue safe.
“Prevention is way better than treatment in my opinion!” Miranda said.
While intestinal parasites can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, bloated abdomen and weight loss, an affected pet can also show no signs of infestation. Besides the risk to the affected animal, parasites can be passed to other animals through contact with the animal, infected stool or soil. Several parasites are considered zoonotic, meaning they can be passed from animals to humans. Roundworms can affect children and the elderly, causing migration of worms to the eye or internal organs. Though infection of humans is rare, it is important to know that there is a small risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that about 5 percent of the United States population carries antibodies to roundworms, which suggests that they have ingested roundworms eggs at some point. Hookworms are also potentially zoonotic, as the larvae can penetrate human flesh, causing inflammation of the affected area. Regular stool testing allows peace of mind for the pet owner that not only the pet is safe, but other pets and humans as well. Blue faced an army of parasites, but has come out the victor, and is able to rest easy these days.
For more information on canine and feline parasites, visit www.petsandparasites.org.