Comprehensive Parasite Protection

At Bracebridge Animal Hospital, a progressive and preventative control program for parasites is recommended. Our guidelines are based on the recommendations of the Companion Animal Parasite Council and have been modified to address the common parasites we deal with in Muskoka.

We know that many of the parasites of companion animals are transmissible to their human counterparts, particularly children. Regular preventative treatment is strongly recommended for all pets depending on their lifestyle and risk factors for exposure to various parasitic diseases. Pets that spend time outdoors, those that hunt or have contact with other pets or wildlife, and even those that eat things off the ground outside are generally at greater risk for contracting parasites.

All medications used for parasite control at our hospital are extremely safe and cost effective thus making parasite control a sensible preventative measure in the general healthcare program for your pet.

Hookworms

Hookworms can be a serious cause of illness in puppies and kittens. The worms survive by siphoning off their host’s blood, so that in heavy infections there can be a significant or even fatal anemia.

Adult worms can produce several thousand eggs daily, and cats and dogs can become infected when a larva from one of these eggs penetrates through their skin, is swallowed through grooming or grazing behaviours, or is ingested along with a prey species. Puppies can also become infected through their mother’s milk, though this does not happen with kittens.

Hookworms are quite susceptible to treatment with several different types of deworming products, though repeated and frequent treatments may be necessary in some circumstances.

Hookworms are a zoonotic threat, meaning that they can be transmitted to people, and they can cause illness in humans as well as in our cats and dogs. In humans, signs are often only found with large numbers of worms, and children tend to be the most seriously affected.

Roundworms

Also called ascarids, roundworms of dogs and cats are the most common of all the intestinal parasites. Adult worms look a bit like spaghetti, typically being 4-5 inches in length, pale yellow or white in colour, and round on cross-section. They live in your pet’s small intestine and can lay tens of thousands of eggs daily, which are very hardy and can live in the environment for years. Occasionally roundworms will be seen in a pet’s feces or vomit, but usually only the microscopic eggs are passed out in the stools.

Cats and dogs can become infected with roundworms from hunting or grazing behaviours, as they can ingest roundworm eggs or larvae from contaminated soil or plants, other animals’ feces, through their grooming behaviours, or from eating a prey animal. Roundworms can also be transmitted to puppies from their mother during her pregnancy, or to puppies and kittens via the mother’s milk. This form of transmission is very difficult to prevent, as the mother will likely have negative fecal tests despite carrying roundworm cysts in her muscle tissues. It is estimated that virtually 100% of puppies and kittens in North America are born with roundworm infections.

Roundworms are a zoonotic threat, meaning that they can be transmitted to people, and they can cause illness in humans as well as in our cats and dogs. In humans, the abnormal migration of roundworm larvae, known asvisceral larval migrans, can be a cause of organ damage and even blindness, with children being most likely to get infected.

Roundworms are quite susceptible to treatment with several different types of deworming products.

Tapeworms

A common intestinal parasite of cats and dogs, tapeworms are one of the few “gut worms” that may give a pet owner some visible signs of its’ presence. Small white segments can at times be found on the surface of fresh feces, or clinging to the fur of a pet particularly around the rectal region. These white segments are often compared to grains of rice, or cucumber seeds, and are essenstially crawling egg-packets. Generally, our pets show no signs of illness with tapeworms.

Cats and dogs may develop a tapeworm infection from ingesting fleas and lice, rodents (such as mice and voles), birds, rabbits, or reptiles. There are also a number of tapeworm species that thrive in local wildlife predator-prey cycles, such as the wolf-moose tapeworm, or the fox-groundhog tapeworm.

Cat and dog tapeworms are a zoonotic threat, meaning that they can be transmitted to people, and they can cause illness in humans as well as in our cats and dogs. Children are most likely to be infected, and may experience gastrointestinal signs with heavy infections. Zoonotic transmission of some of the wildlife tapeworms can be much more serious; thankfully this is very rare.

Tapeworms are quite susceptible to treatment with several different types of deworming products.

Whipworms

A common cause of large bowel diarrhea, whipworms will only sporadically shed eggs in a pets’ stools. This makes it difficult to diagnose an infection because of the chance of a falsely negative result when inspecting a fecal floatation under a microscope. A series of fecal tests, usually daily for 3-4 days, is generally accepted to rule out whipworms as a cause of your pet’s illness.

These intestinal worms can be very persistent, as whipworm eggs can live in the environment for many years, leading to recurrent infections in our pets.

Whipworms are quite susceptible to treatment with several different types of deworming products.

Sarcoptic Mange

Commonly called scabies, this skin disease is caused by a small round mite that burrows through the top layers of an animal’s skin. Mange is common in Muskoka, both in household pets and in wildlife. The mites are contagious between different species – wildlfe, cats, dogs, people – but generally show host preferences, so that a dog’s mange will tend to spread most readiliy to other dogs. The mites can also contaminate bedding and other inanimate objects, so that pets can contract the infection from their environment.

Mange is an extremely itchy condition, and is often suspected when a pet is found to suddenly start scratching. Over time, the mites’ preference for the ears, elbows, hocks, and abdomen may become apparent, and a pet may develop bald, crusting scabs.

Mange can be diagnosed by skin scrapings, as the mite is easy to see under the microscope. However, 10-15 scrapings may have to be collected before a single mite is found, so that often a pet is treated based on suspicion only.

Coccidia

This single-celled parasite is most often a problem with puppies and kittens, though it can affect older cats and dogs, and can be a common cause of diarrhea. Pets become infected from ingesting contaminated soil or feces.

Giardia

Also known as “Beaver Fever”, this single-celled parasitic infection is usually spread through contaminated water, though other substances such as soil or plants may also carry Giardia. Many dogs show no symptoms of the infection, and can be silent carriers of the disease for years. However, in other pets, Giardia can result in chronic diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, and poor condition.

Giardia is a zoonotic threat, meaning that humans can contract the disease from their pets, though this is in fact quite rare. More often, Giardia in people is felt to have been transmitted from other people or from contaminated water sources.

Giardia can be difficult to treat because of it’s tendency to become “subclinical”; prolonged therapy is sometimes needed.

Demodectic Mange

More commonly called demodex, this type of mange is rarely itchy for our pets. Demodex infections occur when there is an overgrowth of the demodex skin mite, which is actually a normal skin inhabitant of all cats and dogs. The mite overgrowth can happen because of a genetic predisposition, and so is most commonly found in purebred young dogs and puppies. When older dogs develop the disease, it may suggest some other disease is also present, creating a suppression of that pet’s immune system.

Demodex infections cause small patches of hair loss, thickened skin, sometimes with visibly enlarged follicles, and may seem irritated at times. Rarely, demodex can become generalized over the entire body, and is more difficult to treat in those circumstances.

Unlike sarcoptic mange, demodex is reliably diagnosed with skin scrapings, and when localized to small regions on your pet it responds quite well to treatment.