If you have an animal, chances are good you have had a run in with intestinal parasites. Most pet owners have had to deal with the common parasites, like roundworms and hookworms, when monitoring their pet's health, but there are other lesser known parasites which pet owners should know about.
While whipworms are frequent in the southern United States, they are less common, even rare, throughout the country. This parasite causes the most deaths among adult animals that veterinarians see. Whipworms are spread by contact with fecal matter and can live dormant for over five years. This parasite fastens to the intestinal lining and sucks blood, effectively draining the life out of your pet's health. Most animals will have uncontainable diarrhea and are very anemic. If the infection is not controlled, lasting scarring can occur in the intestinal lining causing permanent diarrhea. Whipworms are a canine only disease.
Tapeworms are also familiar for animals too and are one of the most annoying parasites in pet health care to date. This parasite can cause vomiting and diarrhea but is not terminal for animals. Many people have had contact with this parasite. It looks like pieces of rice around dog's and cat's rectums. Tapeworms are spread by infected fleas and rodents to our pets. Tapeworms need two hosts to stay alive. The egg packets are what causes the chief infestation in fleas and rodents. Using flea products that kill or repel fleas from our pets effortlessly controls tapeworms.
Coccidia is a parasite that can be difficult to correctly diagnose in pet health. This parasitic disease tends to only involve young animals and can be hard to find even on a microscopic level. It can be incorrectly diagnosised as parvo because it can also cause vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Animals bought from a pet store or from breeders with lots of litters tend to have the highest incidences of coccidia.
Giardia is a parasite that is found in inactive water. It affects both cats and dogs and even can also affect humans, affecting both pet health and their owners. Giardia causes watery diarrhea in pets and in humans. If you have heard the adage, don't drink the water, it is this parasite which has garnered this honor.
These parasites are very different in size and shape and cause different problems, but there are a few things you can do to keep your pet's health parasite free. Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are easily controlled by oral medications. Probably the best long-term option for these parasites is heartworm preventatives because they are wormed monthly. Parasites tend to be in high concentrations in areas where animals are kept in large numbers and close quarters. Fenced-in pets and animals on chains should have their feces removed daily to keep the parasite levels low. And finally, keeping your animal clean and out of dirty environments can decrease the risk for both coccidia and giardia. Most veterinarians recommend yearly fecals, and after that test is complete your veterinarian can recommend any number of preventatives.
Gary Pearson is an accomplished niche website developer and author.
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