The veterinarian's expertise is required or the implementation of internal antiparasitic treatments (or deworming) because the choice of drugs to be administered and the treatment frequency may vary according to various parameters: animal's lifestyle, age, diet, geographic location, travelling history, and previous infestations.
In addition to the factors related to the animal, the owner's situation should also be considered because some dog and cat parasites are likely to contaminate people living with animal.
What is the human environment around the dog or the cat?
The risk of parasite transmissions from animals to humans must be taken very seriously when a dog or cat lives in contact with young children or pregnant women. The parasitic state of the animal is also very important it it lives with immune-deficient or weakened individuals: elderly people, patients undergoing chemotherapy or immunosuppressive treatments (in case of cancer, organ transplantation or autoimmune disease), people with diabetes, HIV infection, etc.
In high-risk situations, monthly deworming of the animal might sometimes be recommended.
Is there a risk of echinococcosis?
Echinococcus granulosus is a tapeworm found in different animal species; when it happens to be transmitted to humans from infected dogs or cats, consequences on human health can be very serious.
In high-risk areas, it is therefore necessary to set up an appropriate deworming protocol for dogs and cats which are likely to hunt, or to eat cow/sheep offals. This treatment will be repeated every 4 to 6 weeks.
Is there a risk of angiostrongylosis?
The "heartworm" is the name given to the parasite responsible for angiostrongylosis, a canine disease that is currently progressing in Europe. This parasite can seriously affect the dog's health if you don't react in time. In addition, an infested dog excretes larvae for several years and thus becomes a reservoir of the infestation.
The dog can infest itself by playing with slugs or snails... Sometimes, small rodents or birds also play a role in the contamination. Hunting dogs are particularly exposed to this disease.
Prevention starts with screening: talk to your vet! In high-risk areas, prevention can be based on monthly treatment with a specific anti-parasitic drug.
Is there a risk of dirofilariasis?
Even if the risk is very fine, Dirofilaria immitis is very dangerous in dogs. The larvae of this parasite are transmitted by mosquitoes and this diseaseis expanding as quickly as the vector does.
Veterinarians recommend annual screening for dogs whose owners reside in risky areas. Preventive treatment can be given, starting one month before the mosquitoes' activity period and continuing for one month after the insect exposure period (usually from April to October).
**Note: Many owners are reluctant to treat their pets against parasites because they run away at treatment's time or spit out the tablets! Do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian about the different forms of administration of antiparasitic drugs: there are now easy ways to deworm your dog and cat.