Pet Parasite Myths: Busted!

Pet Parasite Myths

Working in the veterinary field, we often hear things that make us cringe. Well-intentioned pet owners are often being misinformed by the internet, friends, and other sources when it comes to protecting their pets from internal and external parasites.

Today I will try to shed some light on this topic by exposing a few of these parasite myths.

Myth: My puppy/kitten doesn’t need a dewormer because it hasn’t set foot outside since it was born.

Fact: It’s estimated that over 90% of puppies and kittens are born with worms. These are transmitted from the mother, either in-utero, or while nursing. Earlier in her life, if she ever had worms, a number of them will have travelled into her muscles and form cysts that lie in waiting, safe from de-wormers, until she becomes pregnant. Then they spring into action once again, making their way to your new puppy or kitten.

: My pet can’t have fleas. I never see them scratching.

Fact: Fleas dont make your pet scratch. What causes the itching is an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. However, not all pets are allergic. The easiest way to check your pet for fleas is to use a fine toothed comb through their coat and see if you can find flea dirt. Flea dirt shows up as small specs, often shaped like a comma. If you are unsure if it is flea dirt, place it on a wet paper towel, and if it leaves a reddish mark, you are likely dealing with flea dirt (aka flea poop!).

: Garlic powder/supplements used for flea treatment/prevention.

Fact: Garlic (and anything in the onion family) is toxic to your pets. If ingested it can cause Heinz body anemia. We certainly DO NOT recommend using garlic for any reason on your pets.

: My pet can’t have parasites since it is an indoor pet.

Fact: Though risks are lowered if your pet is indoor only, there are still ways that they can be infected by parasites. Has your cat every eaten a housefly? It can be as simple as that.

: I only need parasite prevention in the summer months.

Fact: Parasites such as ticks can be active as soon as the thermostat rises to 4 degrees celsius!
These were just a few of the commonly held misconceptions about parasites. Have other myths that need busting? Give us a call at Acadia Veterinary Hospital.
Written by Danika Cormier, RVT