If you’re a dog owner, past or present, you’re no doubt already aware of protecting your four-legged friends from fleas and ticks. But, what about the other parasites that may present danger to our beloved pets?
Pets are such an important part of the family and losing them is devastating. But, a new survey of 1000* dog owners from Pet Parasite Action indicates we might be putting their health and those of their human families at risk from parasites.
Parasites such as the roundworm Toxocara can cause blindness and neurological problems in children. Lungworm can be fatal to dogs. Ticks can transmit diseases, some of which can be deadly to dogs or debilitating to people. I tried to keep informed about these things with both Brodie and Stella but new advice is always good.
I have to admit that while I found out what I could about risks to my fur babies, it didn’t really enter my mind that I could be at risk from the same culprits. Therefore, I found the results from the survey particularly interesting and will be definitely be keeping on top of this if and when I welcome a new fur baby into my home.
While 85% of us happily hug our dogs, nearly a third have found pet parasites on ourselves or our children. Like me, the majority of people let their pet sleep on their bed, sit on their sofa or lap and even lick their faces and give them kisses. A few go one step further, letting their pet lick the family’s plates and sit at the dinner table. That was a no-no here but I’ve seen friends and family allow it!
However, most of us don’t know which parasites are the most risky for our pets or our families.
Throughout June and July hundreds of vet practices up and down the country are backing the Pet Parasite Action campaign to encourage people to help protect their pet (and their family) against harmful parasites inside and out.
Lungworm worries dog owners most but is thankfully harmless to humans. But, parasites such as ticks and roundworms are underestimated as disease risks to pets and people.
More survey results
36% of survey respondents are worried about ticks but with a pretty low 48% realising they can cause fatalities in dogs because of the diseases they transmit. Only 28% recognise that ticks (as a transmitter of Lyme disease in people) are a risk to human health. I am aware of this as many of my vestibular migraine symptoms were very similar indeed to those with Lyme.
Brodie had ticks so I made sure that Stella was protected as our favourite walks were in wooded areas shared with deer. Deer are a favourite host for the parasite. Our change in climate is also seeing numbers rise in the UK. This means it’s important to be even more aware now.
Just 15% of pet owners surveyed were worried about roundworms and only 7% correctly think roundworms could threaten human health. If accidentally eaten, eggs from the roundworm Toxocara pose a significant threat to human health. It potentially causes blindness or neurological disease – especially in children. Toxocara is one of the most important reasons for picking up your dog’s poop and disposing of it carefully.
After treating their pet against parasites, many owners change the way they interact with their pet. 61% avoid bathing their dog or letting it swim, 41% avoid them or their children having contact with their dog and 33% avoid letting their dog on the sofa or bed.
The wide variety of preventative measures and the availability of palatable oral chews to treat several parasites means there is no need to avoid these actions.
To quote vet Janet Winter: “It’s very easy to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership and give your dog all the love they need, while also helping to protect them and the rest of your family from parasites. Dog owners should visit their vet for a simple treatment against parasites inside and out.”
TV presenter Jenni Falconer also backs this view: “As a dog owner and a mum I want to be sure I do the best thing for my pet and my family. During the Pet Parasite Action campaign I’m encouraging all pet owners to visit their vet for a simple way to help protect their pet against parasites inside and out, including those that might be harmful to rest of the family. Let’s act now to protect all the members of our family, furry or otherwise.”
There’s lots of useful information and some fun stuff too on the Pet Parasite Action site…you can find out if your local vet is taking part in the campaign to protect our dogs against these deadly bugs and also make a Personal Protection Certificate for your pooch to share on Facebook. Especially useful is the quick and easy risk checker.
We’re entering the season where we’re out and about exploring more with our dogs and kids. Let’s embrace this idea of getting those pets protected against parasites.
Enjoy the Summer.
*1056 dog owners responded to the survey which was carried out in February 2017
** Collaborative post