Parasites are microorganisms that can infest and infect your pets, and yourself. They feed off other bodies to gain nutrients at the expense of the host, with some having a more detrimental effect than others on health. Some parasites can live out their entire life on their host, and may even affect them throughout their whole life. Many are easy to eradicate, but some more so than others.
There are many different parasites that can leave animals and humans vulnerable to illness and disease. Certain types of parasite such as worms can lie dormant for years in the host, who may not display symptoms or be aware of the parasite’s presence in their system. In such instances, they can continue to grow and may even prove fatal if left untreated. Some parasites can be transmitted via insects such as mosquitos or fleas that pass on infections via bites. Others are present in animal faeces, and can spread into the environment, only to affect those who come into contact with them. Diseases passed from animals to humans, or zoonotic diseases, can have an adverse effect on humans depending on the degree of severity.
Parasites appear in various forms. Some are clearly visible to the naked eye, whereas others are microscopic. They can live on or under the skin, and may even use organs as their primary nesting ground. The places parasites can be found in are surprising. For instance, ticks reside in long grass and can attach themselves to a dog, or indeed a person, passing by them. Dirofilaria repens are a type of worm that is transmitted through a mosquito bite, and live under the skin (although these aren’t found in the UK). Some veterinarians believe Demodex mites live on the skin of all dogs in small amounts, but a number of dogs can go on to develop skin disease as a result. Many parasites can be contracted more easily overseas, and tend to be especially present in developing countries.
There are treatment options available for pets that have parasites. Exercise caution wherever you take your pet, and check over them regularly to make sure there are no unwelcome guests living on their body. Watch out for any signs of potential infestation, and if you are unsure of think your pet is playing host to some parasites, take them to see a vet.