The Library - Parasites
The word "parasite" comes from the Greek word parasitos which means "one who eats from another's table." A parasite cannot live independently. It is obligated, by its very nature, to obtain its nourishment from another living organism. The organism from which it obtains its nourishment is called the host. The parasite itself, the organ it must inhabit, and the age, general health and nutritional status of the host are all involved in determining the degree of damage that a parasite will inflict. Not all parasites cause serious damage to the host and almost all living organisms will, at some time or another, be the host to a parasite. (When was the last time you were bitten by a mosquito? Mosquitoes are parasites as they must obtain their nutrition (blood) from another living organism.)
Parasites come in many sizes and shapes --- from the very small virus to those that are easily seen --- such as the flea or tick. There are parasites that spend their entire life cycle on the outside of a host (external parasites or ectoparasites). Others spend their lives inside the host (internal parasites or endoparasites). Skin, intestines, heart, kidney, blood cells and lungs are common sites for parasites to inhabit.
Our intent is to familiarize you with a few of the most common parasites with which your pet may become infected and to share with you some of the more serious problems that may be encountered.
Internal parasites are a major concern with our pets. They can compromise our pets health and vitality, even cause death. There are two major catagories, GI parasites and heartworms, we recommend testing for yearly.
GI parasites most commonly found in our pets are Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Tapeworms, Coccidia and Giardia. The symptoms can range from diarrhea, weight loss to possibly even death. Some of these organisms pose a zoonotic (able to be passed from animal to human) threat. This is a particular concern when you have children in the home. Using
good hygiene and wearing shoes while outside playing can lessen the children's exposure.
Heartworms are a major concern for our pets, especially in this area of the country. We tend to have warmer winters which allows the mosquito to breed year-round. Mosquitoes spread heartworms by ingesting the microfilaria from an infected animal and depositing them on the next animal from which they take a bloodmeal. Keeping your pet on heartworm prevention helps to lessen their chances of developing a heartworm infection.
For further information on GI Parasites, please visit:
For further information on Heartworms, please visit:
Fleas and ticks are sneaky little bugs. They invite themselves onto your pet and thus, into your home. They can cause harm to your pet and possibly transmit diseases to you. Understanding fleas and ticks, how they affect your pet's health, and what to do about them, will help you address a current flea or tick problem and prevent a future one.
Flea Life Cycle
Tick Life Cycle
External Parasite Protection
There are several products on the market for your pets claiming to kill fleas and/or ticks. We, at Care-Pets, recommend Frontline Plus, Revolution and Comfortis for monthly flea and/or tick control. Capstar can be used to "boost" the monthly control products.
Frontline Plus is a monthly topical available for cats and dogs. It kills adult fleas, fleas in larval stages and the newly hatched fleas as they emerge from their cocoons.
Revolution is a monthly topical available for cats and dogs. It contains heartworm preventative, intestinal parasite protection, medication to kill ear mites (in cats) and sarcoptic mange (in dogs), all in addition to killing fleas.
Comfortis is a once monthly oral tablet available for dogs only. It starts to kill adult fleas within 30 minutes of ingesting the medication.
Capstar is also available for cats and dogs. Capstar is a tablet that will kill adult fleas that are on the pet for 24 hours. This can be safely used in conjunction with any of the topicals to "boost" flea control.
When deciding on a flea and tick control product, be aware of the label. Make sure you are not buying a dog product for a cat. Some "OTC" (over the counter) dog products contain permethrins. These products are highly toxic to cats and can be potentially lethal.
It is a good idea to have your pets examined prior to starting a flea control protocol, whether that protocol is with a product purchased from your veterinarian or an OTC product.
Additonal Parasite Information
The Companion Animal Parasite Council is a non-profit organization of veterinarians and parasitologists dedicated to protecting your family and your pets from parasites and zoonotic disease. The mission of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is to foster animal and human health, while preserving the human-animal bond, through recommendations for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of parasitic infections.