Cats and dogs can have worms as parasites in their gastrointestinal tracts. These worms can cause multiple medical problems for their host specially kittens and puppies . I had a case of a puppy that could not pass the stool because of heavy infestation with intestinal worms. It can be confused with cases of swallowing objects leading to obstruction of the intestine and impose huge cost if not investigated by taking the medical history including lack of deworming and by physical exam. The puppy recovered quickly after been treated with broad spectrum deworming. These parasites can potentially affect the owners which is the real problem. They can contaminate indoor spaces or environment and rarely can infest people. even though the risk for people is low , they can cause severe consequences. Since these worms are highly evolved to affect specific species, their larvae can not mature in human gastrointestinal tract but can migrate through the human body and cause medical problems. This condition is called visceral Larval migrans .Sometimes this can cause blindness if affect the eyes.Still other kinds of larvae can penetrate the skin from contaminated soil or environment and cause cutaneous larva migrans.
Generally speaking, There are risk factors that increase the probability of infestation of pet owners with parasitic worms. These include:
- Having more than one pet in the household
- Having indoor outdoor pet
- Having kids in the house
- Having family members who have compromised immune system or with immunosuppressive conditions like those who are on immunosuppressive drugs , people who had organ transplant, Cancer and AIDS patients.
Having any of the risk factors warrants giving the deworming medications to all pets in the household at least 4 times a year. If you have only one indoor pet and no other risk factors, minimum frequency of deworming is 2 times a year but it is important to mention indoor pets can get worms from different sources. You should also consider the fact that these parasite have a short life cycle and the above mentioned recommended frequencies would not guarantee complete prevention hence ” minimum frequency” .