Intestinal Parasite Myths

It has been said to me many many times that “my cat never goes outside so it can’t pick up anything”. It has also been said to me that my “dog never leaves the back yard and won’t catch anything”. Both of these statements are not true. Here are the facts:

  1. The eggs of many parasites can be brought into the house on the bottoms of your shoes.
  2. Flies, mice and cockroaches can carry roundworm eggs and infect your pets.
  3. It has been documented that 15% of potting soil sold is contaminated with roundworm eggs.
  4. Roundworms are contagious to humans and can be passed from cats or dogs to humans. In fact, it has also been determined that approximately 14% of the U.S. human population is infected with roundworms. Roundworm larva can penetrate human skin and cause a condition known as “Visceral larval migrans”.
  5. The other very contagious parasite that is communicable to humans from a dog or cat is the protozoan parasite known as Giardia. This parasite has been found in the dirt and mulch used in flower beds, etc. around the house.
  6. Wild animals such as rabbits, raccoons, rats, etc. usually have intestinal parasites that are deposited on your lawns in their feces.
  7. Hookworm larva can also penetrate human skin and cause a condition known as “Cutaneous larval migrans”.
  8. Birds can bring in parasites onto your property from miles away. It is known that some birds also carry the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease.

Fortunately, all these parasites can be treated very successfully and eliminated from the host, whether it be a dog, cat or human. But, first it must be determined which, if any, is present in your pet. That is why a fecal examination is recommended by your veterinarian at least 1x each year. It must be determined if your pet has parasites and if so which kind, as the treatment varies.