Deworming is an important preventative care regime for reducing parasites (internal and external) and improving your pet’s health. It is also important to help to prevent transmission of parasites to you and your human family members! Here are some things to know about those unwanted houseguests your cat or dog might unknowingly be hosting.
1. Puppies and Kittens need to be dewormed more often: It is recommended that your puppy or kitten is dewormed every 2 weeks until they reach 3 months of age. Puppies and kittens are usually born with parasites passed on from mom (even if mom is dewormed) before they are born. After this, in our area, deworming depends on exposure risk. Please discuss this with your vet.
2. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there: Sometimes we can see little wiggly worms in our pet’s faeces, but this is not always the case. When in doubt, a faecal examination is done to check for parasites.
3. There are certain factors that can increase exposure. Consider this:
- What parasites are in the area where you live?
- Has your pet travelled anywhere in the past few months? Other provinces or countries can potentially expose your pet to different species of parasites.
- What is your pet’s risk of exposure? Do they go outside? Do they have contact with many other animals? Do they frequent busy dog parks or daycares?
4. Certain people are at higher risk than others: Children, the elderly, pregnant women, cancer patients, diabetics and anyone else with a suppressed immune system are at a greater risk. Many dogs and cat parasites are “zoonotic”, meaning they are transmissible from animals and cause disease in humans. Be cautious and take extra care if there is anyone in your household who might be at a greater risk for exposure.
5. Myth or Fact? Parasites cannot survive our cold Alberta winters: Well, both. Many cannot, but some species can survive in temperatures below -30°C. Intestinal roundworms produce 10,000 eggs every day. These eggs have a thick crust which protects them from the elements – they can survive and be infectious through up to 5 years, even in our harsh northern climate. Your pet may still be at risk!
6. Certain types of internal parasites are more common in Alberta than others: Ascarids (roundworms), tapeworms, and giardia, intestinal protozoa which causes “beaver fever” in humans. Roundworms and tapeworms both are infectious to humans as well.
7. There are easy steps to take to lower the risk of infection of your pets, your family and yourself:
- Pick up after your pet on walks and in your yard.
- Cover sandboxes when not in use and keep garden areas protected.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after disposing of animal faeces.
- Discuss the most practical, effective parasite prevention program for your pets.
If you have any questions about deworming or would like deworming medication for your pet, please phone us at (780) 439-4353.
By: Erin Jones B.Sc., AWC, CPDT Candidate