Hookworms are primarily transmitted fecal-orally to animals. Your pet may eat contaminated feces or dirt, or he might run through contaminated soil, then lick his paws and ingest the eggs in that manner. Humans pick up the eggs or larvae on our skin from soil contaminated by infected wild animal or pet poop. These microscopic parasites aren't visible to the naked eye, so looking down as you wander barefoot around your yard or garden won’t help!
To prevent a hookworm infestation, it’s important to get rid of any potentially infective feces from wild or stray animals around your property that might tempt your dog or possibly be stepped on by a barefoot two-legged member of your family. It’s also important to keep your pet away from the poop of other animals while you’re walking or hiking outdoors.
Puppies and kittens can acquire hookworm from their mother’s milk, if the nursing mom has an infestation. In people, the common route of hookworm infection is through the skin. Hookworm larvae have the ability to penetrate human skin - not a pleasant thought, I know, but true!
A rash typically forms at the site where the hookworm larva penetrates the skin. The most common area for a rash is on the feet of a person who has walked barefoot in sand or soil containing hookworm larva. People who garden without gloves and handle contaminated soil will notice a rash on their hands if they've been infected.
Hookworm infection in your pet can’t be taken lightly. A puppy or kitten who acquires hookworms can become lethargic, weak, malnourished and anemic. It isn't uncommon for young pets to die from such an infestation. Infected adult dogs and cats may show symptoms of poor appetite and weight loss.
Roundworms are large, and spaghetti-like in appearance. And they can create a full-blown infestation in your pet before you know they’re there. By the time you see signs of roundworms in your dogs or cat's feces or vomit, he’s overrun with them.
Your pet will typically acquire a roundworm problem by eating infected feces. The infection can also be passed from a female to her unborn puppies or kittens across the placenta. The babies develop their own infection while still in the uterus and are born positive for roundworm.
Roundworm infections in people are most commonly transmitted through ingestion of contaminated soil. For example, if you pull vegetables from your garden and don’t wash them thoroughly, you could ingest soil that is contaminated with roundworm eggs.
Because humans are not the perfect host for roundworms, they tend to travel through the body and create problems like organ inflammation. In fact, they are known to migrate through the eyes of small children. It is not uncommon for an eye doctor to discover roundworm larva at the back of a child’s eye.
For obvious reasons, it’s very important that puppies and kittens be dewormed. It is also a good plan to have fecal specimens checked at six, eight, ten and twelve weeks. An infected pet creates an unacceptable potential for exposure to your family – especially when it comes to young children.
Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease any warm-blooded vertebrate can acquire; however, infections are most common in cats and humans. Most at risk are pregnant women and people who are immunosuppressed. Children are also at higher risk.
If your cat has the disease, she may show no signs of it. Cats that spend time outdoors – especially if they hunt small prey – are more likely to acquire toxoplasmosis. If your outdoor kitty is eating rabbits or rodents or is getting other raw meat from animals that could be toxoplasmosis-positive, she/he can become infected. This is why many doctors recommend pregnant women not scoop or sanitize their cat’s litter box. If you have a toxoplasmosis-positive kitty, she’s apt to be shedding the infection into her stool.
If you have a cat and are pregnant or your immune system is compromised for any reason, either assign litter box chores to another family member, or be vigilant about wearing gloves when you handle the box. If you feed your pet a raw food diet, freezing the fresh meat for three days will kill off any toxoplasmosis living in the tissues. This will make the meat safer for you to handle and healthy for your pet to eat.
#5: Lyme disease
Lyme disease is a vector-borne illness. The vector is the vehicle of transmission; in this case it is the deer tick or black-legged tick. The tick transmits the Lyme organism to a dog or a person and both can become infected. Acute Lyme disease causes fever and lethargy. People also tend to get rashes, and dogs tend to develop transient lameness along with the other symptoms. In a chronic Lyme infection, dogs, people and also cats (though less likely) can develop Polyarthritis, an immune-mediated degenerative disease, which can lead to kidney disease.