What to Know About Intestinal Parasites in Dogs and Cats

Can any of these parasites be transmitted to humans?

Both hookworms and roundworms are zoonotic, meaning they could be transmitted to humans. Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin, causing redness and itching. Roundworms are even more dangerous because the larvae can migrate through organs such as the eyes, brain and liver, causing significant damage.

How can I prevent intestinal parasites from infecting my pet?

All puppies and kittens should have a fecal examination and be treated for roundworms and hookworms even if the results are negative. This is because eggs can be shed intermittently (and therefore may not show up on the day the stool is examined) and because puppies and kittens can be infected very early in life.

Adult dogs and cats should have their stool examined every year (or, for some pets, every six months) or any time they have diarrhea or gastrointestinal signs.

Because eggs of some parasites are passed in feces and can contaminate the soil for years, it's important to clean up after your pooch. Daily removal of feces from your yard can decrease contamination of the soil, as well as the chances a pet or human will pick up parasites.

Some parasites, like roundworms, can infect dogs and cats that kill and eat mice and other small prey (if the prey animal is infected). Preventing your dog or cat from hunting can help reduce his exposure to some of these parasites.

Some heartworm preventives also target hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm and whipworm infections, so while you’re preventing your dog or cat from getting heartworms, you can also protect him from getting some of the other worms that may be in his environment.

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