Most people don't know that they can pick up worms from their animals.
Roundworm (Toxocara), the most common internal parasite in dogs and cats, affects 1.3 billion people worldwide, with 10,000 new cases annually. hookworm (Ancyclostoma) affects about 1 billion people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Worms can be passed to your pet by eating contaminated soil or feces or even small infected animals. Worms can also be transmitted from the mother to the offspring during pregnancy and nursing.
Worms can be debilitating to kittens and puppies, because they lead to malnutrition, gastrointestinal upset and even death. Diarrhea is among the most common signs of worms; other symptoms include vomiting, weight loss and a poor coat. It is assumed that all puppies and kittens have roundworms, and this is why a dewormer is routinely given during initial wellness visits.
People can pick up worms by consuming worms' eggs or having larva enter through wounds on their body. Roundworms can lead to significant health issues for people, including blindness and lung, brain and liver damage.
Awareness is the first step in preventing roundworm infection in you and your pets. Don't let your dog or cat lick you in the face. It's important to wash your hands after you handle your pet and especially before eating. It is also suggested not to walk barefoot in sand or grass or lie down directly on grass.
I also recommend having a fecal sample from your pet evaluated at least twice a year. That is the best way to identify internal parasites.
Deworming for young puppies is recommended at two, four, six and eight weeks of age; for kittens, it's four, six and eight weeks. If you have a mother of a litter, she should be dewormed. It is also good to have your animals on routine heartworm preventive medicine.
Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Read her previous columns at recordnet.com. Contact her at .