In most areas of the country, intestinal parasites and bacterial diseases are a common problem in the pet world. Parasite and bacterial infections are often contracted by pets consuming infected soil and decomposing wildlife, licking their paws and fur, or drinking from a contaminated water source. Flea and Tick infestations also help spread these parasites. Fortunately due to the lack of flea and tick infestation amongst our pet population in Kodiak we do not see the volume of intestinal parasite cases that occur in other areas. Most of the common types of intestinal parasites have been found in Kodiak, but Tapeworms and Roundworms are the most common parasites seen on the island:
- Tapeworms-a thin, flat, segmented worm that lives in the small intestine, stealing nutrients from their unsuspecting host. Tapeworms are often contracted by ingesting infected fleas or lice and/or consuming decomposing wildlife. Most cases in Kodiak involve a pet that has access to rural areas, nature trails, and beaches.
- Roundworms-a thin, round, spaghetti-like worm that lives in the small intestine, stealing nutrients from their unsuspecting host. Roundworms are often contracted by consuming infected soil, licking their paws and fur, or drinking from a contaminated water source. Most cases in Kodiak involve new puppies that have contracted the parasite from their mother.
- Other less common parasites seen around Kodiak include: Hookworm, Whipworm, Coccidia, and Giardia.
- Other than certain parasites, certain types of harmful bacteria that can cause severe forms of gastro-intestinal distress is also commonly found in the Kodiak area.
Symptoms of intestinal parasites and harmful bacteria may include unexplained weight loss, malnutrition, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and muscle weakness to name a few.
It is highly recommended that you conduct annual fecal testing for parasites, or more often due to possible exposure. Our veterinarians can prescribe simple and effective treatments to rid your pet of these parasites and bacteria. The best way to prevent these common infections may be simple but not always practical: monitor your pet closely to avoid ingestion of infected material. As we all know, that is easier said than done!!!
The number one question asked by clients: Can I become infected with my pet’s intestinal parasite?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is more realistic. Most intestinal parasites are contracted through fecal/oral contamination and are difficult for humans to contract if proper hygiene methods are employed. Infections in humans are rare, but if you suspect that you may have contracted or are displaying symptoms of an intestinal parasite, you should contact your physician immediately.