It is quite common for pets to become infected with parasites at some point in their lifetime. Parasites can have varying effects on your pet, ranging from simple irritation to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated. In some cases, parasites can be zoonotic (transmitted to humans). Prevention, diagnosis and treatment is therefore very important.
Parasites can be internal (intestinal) or external. Intestinal parasites, such as roundworm, live inside the host animal’s gastrointestinal tract and are often transmitted through faecal matter, while external (topical) parasites, such as fleas and ticks, often hide in tall grass and other outdoor areas and will attach onto cats and dogs to feed. Topical parasites can also be vectors, or transmit systemic diseases to pets and people.
The local environment can have a direct effect on the parasites that your pet is exposed to. Worms and ticks are a particular problem in Qatar, with preventive measures being all the more important as many ticks here carry a serious disease called ehrlichiosis, which can be fatal. Fleas are less common but do nevertheless exist and can be responsible for various diseases as well as some tapeworms, while heartworm disease tends to be limited to isolated cases.
Prevention and treatment
The prevention and treatment of intestinal parasites is simple and inexpensive so it is important for owners to take this seriously and look after their pets and family. Symptoms of internal parasites include diarrhoea, coughing, weight loss, a reduced appetite and a dry, unhealthy coat. If you believe your pet may have an internal parasite, it is important to get in touch with your veterinarian for an examination. In order to find the most effective treatment, the vet will need to identify the parasite. This is not always easy due to the way in which some parasites release their eggs, but a definitive diagnosis (usually done via a faecal sample) will ensure that the correct de-worming treatment is prescribed (not all deworming medications work for all parasites). Follow-up is important and your veterinarian will check your dog periodically during and after the treatment period to ensure that the parasites have been eliminated.
Sometimes, however, a healthy pet will not show any immediate signs of parasites so it is essential to periodically monitor your pet and take preventive measures to ensure his well-being. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian will help to detect any possible problems.
Our team at the Canadian Veterinary Hospital in Doha is here to discuss the types of internal and external parasites that your pet may be vulnerable to and advise you as to the best course of prevention or cure, so do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
For further information on this topic, please consult our website www.canvethospital.com. Our pet health section includes a library containing a selection of professionally-written articles on parasites in pets, providing you with up-to-date and reliable pet health information.
The team at the Canadian Veterinary Hospital, Doha, Qatar.