HEARTWORM AND INTESTINAL PARASITE TESTING AND TREATMENT
It is recommended dogs and cats be dewormed for intestinal parasites 2-4 times in the first year of life, then either checked for intestinal parasites 1-2 times per year as adults or dewormed then. All pets should also be on year-round parasite control against heartworms (yes, even cats can get heartworm), intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks.
It is a well-known fact that 75% of diseases are zoonotic (which means humans can get them from animals). Keeping your animal parasite free not only keeps them healthy but you and your family healthy as well! We can assume that all puppies and kittens do have intestinal worms. Because of this, all puppies and kittens should receive dewormer beginning at two weeks of age and continuing every two to three weeks until regular broad spectrum control begins. Another strategy or easy way to remember is to get them dewormed every time they get vaccinated. The worms we are most concerned about as far as human health is concerned is a round worm called Toxocara canis (also known as dog roundworm). Humans can be infected by this roundworm, a condition called toxocarosis, just by stroking an infected dog's fur. In humans, this parasite will circulate around the blood system and usually grows in the back of the eye, which can result in blindness, or in the liver or lungs. It can also go to skin and the worms can crawl and migrate though and just under the skin. Since a single infected puppy can produce more than 100,000 roundworm eggs per gram of feces, this can be a real problem.
Dogs should be tested for heartworms annually and stay on a heartworm preventative year round. An important fact that most people don't know is that if a puppy gets heartworm preventititve at the age of 8 weeks and below, we don't need to preform the heartworm test to get them heartworm medication. This saves you the money from getting the heartworm test done and it saves them a poke from a blood draw. It also keeps them safe from heartworms which is quite expensive to treat (averages in Hawaii are about $700-$1000). The treatment is also a very painful injection. They will actually need two to three injection depending on the protocol being used. On top of that, you will need to keep your animal contained inside of a crate for 3 months continuously. The only time they would be allowed outside the crate at all is to eat, poop, pee and drink water! There are Heartworms are in Hawaii and due to the amount of mosquitoes in Hawaii, Heartworm is a huge problem. Also note that it is one of the diseases that pet insurance will not cover because it is fully preventable.
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