My daughter, Clara, has recently started crawling and with
this newfound mobility has come a keen sense of curiosity and
exploration. Her current favorite way to explore her new world is to put
anything and everything directly into her mouth. I am constantly surveying our
house for potential “Clara dangers”, trying desperately to childproof
electrical cords, outlets, blind cords, kitchen cabinets, stairs and so much
more. Out of all of Clara’s newfound toys, her absolute favorite are the
furry family members living in our house. She loves to grab their ears, their
tails, crawl after them and of course, eat their hair and get big wet
kisses. One potential “Clara danger” that could easily be overlooked is
the invisible danger of doggie mouth kisses.
There are common feline and canine intestinal parasites that can potentially be transmitted to humans and cause a myriad of health problems if undetected. The most common mode of transmission for these parasites is through fecal-oral contamination (in other words getting microscopic contaminated poop on your hands and then accidentally ingesting the offending material). Of course, it is virtually impossible to prevent young children/toddlers from putting unsavory things in or near their mouth. So, what can we do as parents and pet owners to help minimize the risk to us and our family (both human and furry)? While there are oral dewormers to treat patients that have been diagnosed with intestinal parasites, the key to a healthy and parasite free home is prevention. Semi-annual fecal checks on your furry family members are key screening tool that allow your veterinarian to help evaluate for microscopic signs of parasites. In addition to semi-annual fecal checks, keeping your pet on year-round heartworm prevention will also help with intestinal parasite control as most heartworm preventions also contain some type of intestinal parasite medication. Even animals that are 100% indoors are at risk for contracting intestinal parasites from ingestion of rodents, insects, etc so year-round prevention is key. I recommend consulting with your veterinarian at the Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt as to which heartworm/intestinal parasite control is best for you and furry family member(s).
Finally, it is important to follow a few simple rules at home.
1. Pick up your pet’s feces while it is fresh to help decrease the risk of environmental contamination
2. Always wash your hands in warm, soapy water after handling your pet or their feces.
3. Try to avoid direct kisses in and around the mouth
4. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your pet’s intestinal health and/or parasite control.