There is really no way around the fact that pets are prone to picking up parasites. Consider that dogs and cats use their mouths like we use our hands and that they have very inquisitive natures and you can see that the transmission of parasites between animals can be fairly easy. This can occur via direct contact with another infected animal or indirect contact through infected soil, water, garbage, etc..
Parasites are divided into ectoparasites (live on the outside of the body) like fleas, ticks and mites; and endoparasites (live inside the body) like worms and protozoa. Ectoparasites are quite specific on the matter of who they will live on and although they can cause skin rashes in humans, they generally jump off once they realize we’re not their proper host. Some endoparasites, however, can be transmitted between pet and human and we are closer than ever before to our pets – both emotionally and physically. Pets often share our couches, beds and sometimes even our countertops (as cat owners can attest to). They also share our yard for play and……. other functions.
We are generally good with the basic hygiene measure of washing our hands after playing with pets and that along with the fact that, as with ectoparasites, many of them are not built to survive in humans makes transmission a difficult prospect. Transmission can happen though and the best way to approach this may be to look at how you interact with your pet and decide what level of risk there is. The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a very informative website at www.petsandparasites.org. There is some great, non-partisan, information on what is out there and what you can do to keep the risk down.
As always, if you have any questions about parasite control or any other aspect of your pets care, please call us we will be happy to help out.