Keep Your Pets Safe From Parasites and Protect Your Family From Disease

It is a fun time of year here at Pittsburgh Spay and Vaccination Clinic, as we are meeting many new puppies and kittens! As we bring new pets into our families and around the children in our lives it is important to make sure everyone is protected from any possible disease. Sometimes pets can give a child more than just a wet, sloppy kiss and endless affection. When pets are not protected, they could spread diseases called “zoonoses”,to which children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people are especially vulnerable.

Purdue University research estimates that 5 percent to 20 percent of children are infected by dog roundworm larvae at some time, and that an estimated 10,000 human cases of Toxocara (roundworms) infections occur each year in the United States. Some zoonotic diseases can be transmitted by fleas and intestinal parasites such as roundowrms, hookworms, and tapeworms, which is why the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends year-round protection for pets.

It is unknown whether transmission can occur from casual contact with your pet. Even if a pet does not have intestinal parasites, a parasitic zoonotic disease could still be contracted. Backyards, sandboxes, public parks and beaches accessible to dogs, cats and wildlife often are contaminated with parasite eggs from an infected animal’s feces.

To help reduce the risk of your child contracting a parasitic zoonotic disease, the Companion Animal Parasite Council offers these tips:

  • Minimize your child’s exposure to potentially contaminated environments, such as uncovered sandboxes.
  • Clean up your pets’ feces.
  • Decontaminate soiled concrete surfaces with bleach or ammonia, then rinse well.
  • Practice good personal hygiene and have children wash their hands after playing with pets or after playing in potentially infected environments.
  • Treat your pet year-round for intestinal and external parasites. Ask one of our veterinarians to recommend a monthly heartworm preventative, the broadest spectrum and most pet-friendly dewormer, and a monthly flea and tick control product.
  • Have our office perform fecal examinations each year (two times for puppies and kittens) to assist with diagnosis of potential zoonotic infections.
  • If your pet is diagnosed with a zoonotic parasite, inform your physician and pediatrician immediately.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment for parasitic zoonosis is not necessary in most cases, but some serious health problems, such as blindness or swelling of the body’s organs or central nervous system, can occur.

Prevention is key to ensure that children do not become infected.

Discuss zoonotic risks and symptoms with our veterinary staff and your pediatrician. If you have questions concerning your family’s zoonosis risk or for more information about zoonoses, pets, and children, please call our office to speak with a member of our veterinary team.

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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