Protecting Pets Against Parasites Protects People Too
Here’s another reason to be sure your dog is protected against parasites such as roundworm, hookworm and heartworm. This definitely came as an unwelcome surprise to me and is something that petowners and people need to be aware of.
Jennifer spent a lot of time playing with her 4-year-old son, Christopher, as any good mother would do.
He seemed strong and healthy, but, at one of his yearly health checkups, his doctor found that Christopher was blind in his left eye. Specialists confirmed that Christopher had a bad scar on his retina caused by a roundworm larva that had become trapped inside Christopher’s eye.
The family’s pets, two dogs and a cat, were all checked for roundworms and hookworms, and all were negative. Each pet was on the monthly heartworm preventative that also controls and treats roundworm and hookworm infections. The source of infection for Christopher turned out to be the local playground that he and his mother had so often enjoyed together.
Roundworms are one of the most common parasites that pets in our area will have, especially as a youngster. It is routine for most veterinarians to treat puppies and kittens for roundworms when they are first presented for vaccinations.
As the animals grow older, there is somewhat of a natural immunity to the roundworms that develops so older dogs harbor roundworms less frequently, but still need to be checked for parasites on a regular basis.
There are a lot of rules about pets in parks that irritate a lot of pet owners. Most parks in our area forbid pets even if they are on a leash. As our city grows bigger, there are fewer and fewer areas available to walk and enjoy your pet.
Christopher’s irreversible blindness was the result of an animal defecating in the sandbox of the playground and the roundworms from the stool finding their way into his body. The disease is called toxocariasis.
Toxocariasis is rare, and the larvae don’t always find their way into the eye. But precautions need to be taken so that no one ever has to suffer from blindness or disease from our pets.
First, pet owners need to make sure their pets don’t carry parasites. A simple fecal sample taken to your veterinarian can be examined under the microscope to determine if your pet needs to be wormed or that, after worming, he is free of parasites.
Second, when pets are around places where people play and might be exposed to pets, all waste material should be immediately removed by the pet owner.
It is a simple thing to take a plastic bag with you when you go on a walk with your pet. If he defecates, pick it up with the bag and dispose of it in the nearest trash can. Even if you are not in a park, your neighbors will appreciate not having to pick up after your pet.
The simplest solution is to use the heartworm preventative that also controls roundworms on a monthly basis. Your pet should be on the heartworm medication anyway for his own good, and the roundworm control benefits him as well as all humans in his path.
You don’t need to freak out about parasites and your pet. A little common sense takes care of the problem and prevents disease and blindness in children like Christopher. (Billings Gazette)
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