Can I get parasites from my dog or cat?
Yes, worms found in dogs and cats are potential health hazards for humans, too. If hookworm larvae penetrate the skin they can cause potentially serious and scarring inflammation.
Roundworm eggs, if ingested, can cause a disease called "visceral larval migrans" where tiny worm larvae migrate through the person's intestinal wall and into the body tissues. They then grow to larger size almost anywhere in the body. There have been cases where children lost their vision. Children are at most serious risk especially if they play in an environment where dog, cat, or raccoon feces may be present. A single adult roundworm female can shed up to 100,000 eggs a day which pass into the dog (or cat's) environment with the stool.
Some hookworms of dogs can infect humans by penetrating the skin. This is most likely to occur when walking barefoot on the beach, working in the garden or other areas where pets may deposit feces. Infection usually results in an itching sensation at the point where the larvae enter the skin and visible tracks on the skin. The condition is easily treated but can cause mild to extreme discomfort in the affected person. One species of hookworm that infects dogs is known to develop in the human intestine, too, where it may cause disease.
How can I keep my home free of parasites?
While nothing is 100% since they are all around us in our everyday environment, there are steps you can take to prevent parasites in your pet and in your home. Here is a list of things you can do:
1. Keep your dogs living area clean and remove feces often
2. Try to keep your pet away from wild animals
3. You and your children should always wash your hands when you play with a pet or in any area where pet or wild animals have been
4. Internal Parasite screening should be conducted on your pet 4 times a year to ensure they are free of parasites
5. Keep your pet on preventatives such as Interceptor Plus which will treat your dog monthly for some of the most common of internal parasites
This is not a complete list of things you can do to prevent parasites or even of parasites that your pet can pass to you. Please take the deworming and preventative advice of your veterinarian seriously and adhere to strict sanitation principles whenever pets and children are in close contact. We are always available if you should have any questions or concerns about internal parasites.