Pets, Parasites and People

With summer right around the corner, it is time to re-evaluate our pets’ parasite prevention. Portland is an extremely animal-friendly city, which is just one of the reasons why it’s such an enjoyable place to live. However, with all of the cats, dogs, and wildlife in the area, there’s a higher incidence of parasites in our environment. What’s worse, our moist and moderate climate ensures that they survive year-round.Giardia is one of the most common intestinal parasites we encounter. It’s spread to pets and humans through contaminated animal waste and water. We also have roundwormshookworms, andwhipworms, all of which are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans. Thankfully, there are two simple steps you can take to protect your pet and the rest of your family from all of these parasites.

First, during your pet’s annual wellness exam, we will send his or her fecal sample out to a commercial laboratory where a dedicated specialist will review it. Should any parasites be found, we will provide your pet with the medications needed to eradicate them.Second, our veterinarians also recommend that pets be given a heartworm preventive each month.Heartworms are endemic in Southern Oregon, so pets who travel will already require this medication. The reason we suggest it for all pets is that it contains dewormers that protect your pet from the intestinal parasites commonly found in our environment.

When it comes to pets and parasites, most people immediately think of fleas. Even though they are quite small, it’s usually fairly obvious when a pet has them. In addition to causing pets severe discomfort, fleas can also transmit parasites and diseases, including tape worms and Bartonella-which causes “cat scratch disease” in humans.

With the warm spring comes an increase in another external parasite, ticks. Usually seen on dogs hiking in the gorge or drier, warmer areas of Oregon. Our veterinarians have been seeing an increase in ticks on Portland area dogs. They, like mosquitoes, can transmit a number of diseases that are dangerous to humans. Especially if you travel or hike with your pet in tick endemic areas, our veterinarians will advise you regarding the appropriate preventive measures. One of the most commonly used flea products we recommend also provides protection from ticks.