What about parasites: Roundworms
Veterinarian, Dr. Manon Girard, recommends de-worming your cat or dog against parasites like roundworm.
WHAT ABOUT PARASITES: ROUNDWORMS
These tiny parasites live by the thousands in the intestines of dogs and cats. Their eggs are microscopic and can, literally, be found everywhere in our environment. They are resistant to the cold and seem to be indestructible. Fortunately, however, a deworming can take care of the problem if your pet turns out to be a carrier. What are we talking about? Roundworms in cats and dogs.
Dr. Manon Girard, veterinarian at the Clinique Vétérinaire 440 in Vimont in Laval, highlights that kittens and puppies are typically infected by their mothers before they are even born. “If the contaminated cat gives birth, hormones released in the ovaries make it so that larvae are released, which is then passed in the breast milk. This is why a kitten that is only a few weeks old may already have worms in the intestine. It’s worse in dogs, because a gestating female may have worms in the muscles, which is released at the end of gestation and then passed to the placenta. This then means that a puppy that’s only a week old may already have adult parasites in the intestine.”
Every day, cats and dogs that leave the house are at risk of contamination. We see this happen in cats when, for example, they scratch the ground to “do their business” and/or when they wash their paws. In dogs, this can occur when they eat grass.” Eating field mice that carry roundworm can also infect adult cats. According to Dr. Girard, up to 70% of puppies and kittens are roundworm carriers. That’s quite a lot! Dr. Girard tells us that parasitologists recommend de-worming all puppies and kittens under the age of six months, as they are likely to easily become re-contaminated. “Some think that we should be de-worming kittens only every two months, but I recommend every month for the first six months, just to avoid risk. We must also consider that these parasites can be transmitted to humans.”
After six months, and if your cat is an indoor cat, de-worming is no longer unnecessary. After all, your cat won’t be drinking breast milk anymore and contamination by field mice or the ground outside is no longer a factor. “However, Dr. Girard clarifies, “if your pet cat or dog habitually leaves the house, it is important to continue to administer preventive treatment against parasites, especially for heartworm… and especially for dogs.”
Cats, kids and kitty litter.
Outdoor cats won’t hesitate to use your children’s sand box as a litter box. This is why Dr. Girard strongly advises parents to cover it when it is not in use. That way, cats—and any other animals, such as racoons, that might be roaming around—can’t get into and contaminate it. You should be aware that once deposited in the ground, worms last for at least five years! Furthermore, the raccoon parasite is even more damaging than the one found in dogs and cats. These raccoon parasitic larvae can even migrate to children’s eyes… eventually potentially reaching the brain or abdomen! In adult humans, worms can also get into the muscles without us noticing. That being said, the most commonly found worm in this environment is the cat and dog roundworm, with the hookworm, which feeds on blood, also being present (if a little less so in northern animals). These parasites are detected in fecal samples. In any event, the same treatment works quite well for both types of parasites.
The serious consequences that arise from the presence of parasites like roundworms are real… but rare. However, “rare” doesn’t mean “never”. At the very first visit with your vet and young pet, ask your vet about preventive measures and de-worming. Your vet will be happy to provide you with all the advice and information you’ll need… as well as offer the best and most appropriate treatment; treatment that takes many things, including your living environment, into account.