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Don't Expose Your Children, Yourself or Your Pets

Hookworm and roundworm infections can be transmitted by dogs and cats to children who are living in homes with pets. In some cases, these parasites can cause blindness in humans.

Dog and Cat ParasitesIt is estimated that 30% to 50% of dogs and cats carry gastrointestinal (GI) parasites and that one to three million people in the United States have infections from the same parasites carried by pets. Children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are at high risk.

Dogs and cats get infected with hookworms, roundworms or other parasites like giardia and coccidia by walking or digging in places where other animals have defecated. Puppies and kittens can get worms directly from their mothers. Worms can cause vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal blockage and weight loss in dogs and cats. Hookworms can cause fatal anemia in very small puppies and kittens.

Microscopic worm eggs and larvae can end up on your pet's feet. Pets can then lick their feet and swallow these GI parasites. Three weeks later, parasite eggs and larvae may shed in their stool. If your pet licks its rump and then licks your child or if your child pets your pet, he or she can become infected with these parasites. Stale, standing water (even puddles) and the stool of other animals can harbor parasites, too!

Dogs and cats with ticks can be infected with Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Tularemia. These diseases can affect people, too, if the ticks detach from your dog or cat and attach themselves to you or your child. This could be a risk factor for your children if the family dog or cat sleeps in their bed.

Cats and dogs can also get hookworm, roundworm, and tapeworm infections by hunting prey. Even if your cat lives indoors, the ingestion of one house mouse can expose your cat to GI parasites. Cats with fleas can spread "cat scratch fever" to children, elderly people, or immunocompromised people with AIDS, cancer or organ transplants.

How You Can Protect Your Children and Pets from Parasites

  • Keep your dog on a monthly heartworm preventative all year long. This medication helps to prevent hookworms and roundworms in your dog. Tell us what your cat's lifestyle is – indoors or out or both, and we'll advise you on appropriate parasite control. Keep your dog and cat on topical flea and tick control all year long as well.
  • Scoop your yard where your dog defecates daily, as worm eggs and larvae are often found in stool and can contaminate the environment.
  • Cover the sandbox to keep cats from using it as a litter box. Scoop litter boxes daily and scrub them weekly.
  • Bring your pet's stool sample to be checked at least twice a year and ideally four times a year, and especially if your pet develops diarrhea. You do not have to bring your pet along for this service unless it is ill. The stool sample should be fresh. We can provide a special container that allows you to collect a specimen collection without touching the stool.
  • Teach your children to wash their hands before eating, and especially after playing with their pet.
  • Any pet with diarrhea should be examined by a veterinarian. Please bring a stool specimen.

If you have questions, or would like to purchase flea, tick and heartworm preventatives for your pet, call us at (978) 453-1784.

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