Educational Articles

Parasites

  • Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. There is no drug approved for treating heartworms in cats. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventative in areas where mosquitoes are active all year round.

  • Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. In general, cats tend to harbor relatively few hookworms when compared to the large numbers found in dogs.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of cats after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the cat’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected cats can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from cats to humans.

  • Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. Almost all cats will become infected with roundworms at some point in their life and most often as kittens. Roundworms are not particularly harmful to adult cats, but large numbers may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and debilitated older cats.

  • The most common skin problem in mini-pigs is dry skin that results from a dietary deficiency of fatty acids. In addition to dry skin, mini-pigs commonly suffer from sarcoptic mange, parakeratosis, yeast dermatitis, and sunburn. Hooves of mini-pigs grow continuously throughout life and need to be trimmed periodically. The canine teeth (tusks) of male pigs grow throughout life, while those of females stop growing at about two years of age. Starting after the pig is about a year of age and usually after giving the pig a sedative, your veterinarian will trim tusks during an examination.

  • Tapeworms are flat, segmented intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. The tapeworm uses its hook-like mouthparts for anchoring to the wall of the small intestine. As the adult tapeworm matures, individual segments called proglottids break off from the main body of the tapeworm and pass in the cat's feces. When segments of the tapeworm break off and pass into the cat's stool, they can be seen crawling on the surface of the feces.

  • Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host and can in turn transmit diseases to your cat or even you. They are prolific breeders and their life cycles can extend through multiple seasons. Prompt removal or use of preventatives limit or prevent the spread of disease, or kill the ticks.

  • Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the organism called Toxoplasma gondii. This is a microscopic single-cell protozoal organism related to coccidia. Toxoplasma occurs worldwide and infection in cats is similarly widespread. Although toxoplasmosisis a relatively common infection, it usually causes no disease in infected cats.