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Creepies and Crawlies and Worms, Oh My!

Dog Licking
I'm sure Fido is just 'sharing the love', but he can also be sharing the worms with your precious new arrival!
With the weather warming up, a lot of us are going to be venturing outside to get started with the yearly yard work. With that will come the observation of lots of little critters in our backyard- earthworms, ants, squirrels, etc. One group of critters that commonly goes unseen and is easily forgotten is the group of worms that can be living right inside your pet's body. It is frighteningly easy for your cuddly little pup, or even indoor only cat, to contract an intestinal parasite. If you have a dog that ever goes outside, then he/she is at risk with every moment spent in the fresh air. All they need to do is walk through rabbit poop, lick the ground under the bird feeder, or snatch up a little poop morsel on a walk and your beloved face licking pooch could have a little worm that he can just as easily share with you. Cats aren't immune either, especially if they go outside or have a dog buddy that likes to sniff their head- which is all it can take to pass the worms along.  

Another scary fact is that once a dog or cat gets an intestinal parasite, they can have it for life. Hookworms are a type of parasite that can sequester itself in the other tissues of the dog, such as the liver or muscle. In this state, the worm will not be killed by a dewormer. These sequestered larvae regularly repopulate your dogs intestines with eggs and adult worms. The only way to prevent your dog from shedding these live eggs and infecting you and other household members is with regular, monthly dewormer.

To give you some cold hard numbers here, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showed that almost 10% of all people living in the western United States were positive for roundworm antibodies. And roundworms are less common in the west then right here is Wisconsin! That means that at least half a million people here in WI have roundworms, and over 30,000,000 people in the country are infected. Animal parasites can do a lot more damage in people since they can get 'lost' in our bodies. This means you could have parasites migrating through your liver, muscles, eyes, brain or skin!

Hookworms migrating through skin
Hookworms migrating through skin
Roundworms in a human retina   (the back of the eye)
Roundworms in a human retina (the back of the eye)

This may seem like an impossible battle, but chances are you are already halfway to adequate parasite control. Common heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard, Iverhart, and Revolution already have a dewormer in them. This means that extending your preventative to year round, if you haven't already, is the best way to keep you and your dog safe from those pesky worms. Yearly stool sample tests can also ensure that your little buddy doesn't have any pesky worms that are slipping through the cracks. If we have seen your pet in the last year, we can set up dewormer without an examination so give us a call today!