There is nothing cuter than watching our kids and pets crawl all over each other. It’s a bond that we want to nurture. Interacting with pets can help teach our children to be gentle, compassionate and loving. At Full Circle Vets we believe that when children and pets are interacting so closely, parasite prevention is very important. Children are just not as conscientious about hygiene as adults!
Some of the most common parasites that can be transferred from pets to kids around the Dartmouth/Halifax area, and across Nova Scotia, are roundworm, hookworms, and ticks. So how do we protect our children?
Almost all dogs have been infected with roundworm, usually as a puppy as roundworms can be transferred to puppies from their mothers, both in-utero and through her milk. Roundworms can infect humans via the fecal-oral route. This means our children become infected if they ingest the eggs present in the feces, or in soil contaminated by feces. Think how many times young kids put dirty hands in their mouth! Roundworm infection can cause serious eye, lung, heart and neurologic disease in humans.
To prevent roundworm infection children should not be allowed to play in areas contaminated by feces and our pets should have routine deworming. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), an independent council made up of veterinarians, parasitologists and other health care professionals, recommend deworming puppies every 2 weeks for 4 treatments and then monthly thereafter. Dogs of all ages should have a fecal exam done 1-2 times a year to ensure they are not shedding any eggs. Like puppies, kittens should be dewormed several times and adult cats should be dewormed multiple times a year depending on their lifestyle. At Full Circle we can work with you to design a deworming protocol that is appropriate for your individual pet.
Hookworms can also be transmitted to humans, usually through the skin. Children are most likely to become infected if they are walking around barefoot at the beach, or in gardens or yards contaminated with pet feces. The larva (young worm) will cause an itching sensation where it enters the skin and often leaves visible tracts on the skin. Routine deworming and regular fecal exams will ensure that your pet is not carrying hookworm parasites.
Ticks are resilient little pests that will attach themselves to our pets, our children and us! They are becoming all too common in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Certain species can carry pathogens like the one responsible for Lyme disease, which can be spread to both pets and humans through the tick’s bite. If your pet spends time in high grass or wooded areas then you may want to consider using a tick control product to protect your pets. This will ensure that they don’t bring any of these nasty insects home before they cuddle up on the couch with the rest of the family!
Come see us at Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives and talk to us about parasite control options!
By: Dr. Janis Fisher