Pet popularity in Canada continues to grow. As veterinarians, we are often asked is “What parasites might my pet get? Will it affect me?” And you might be surprised to find out there are 12 common parasites that affect dogs! and 10 common parasites in cats!

Fortunately, with good hygiene and health care for pets, these risk can be managed. Let’s look at the top 5 risks!

Hookworms are primarily transmitted fecal-orally to animals, if your pet eats contaminated feces or dirt, or he might run through contaminated soil, then lick his paws and ingest the eggs in that manner. Humans may become infected if they touch contaminated poop. Hookworm larvae have the ability to penetrate human skin – not a pleasant thought, I know, but true! Often the infection shows as a rash where the work has penetrated.

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, round worms (just like their name says!). Common route of infection is feces to mouth. Can also be passed to puppies or kittens across placenta. People become infected when eating improperly washed, contaminated vegetables grown in infected soil.

They are sneaky such that by the time you suspect roundworm infection, they are infested. Good prevention measures include deworming kittens and puppies, and having fecal specimens tested for worms. Ensure that all garden products are washed thoroughly, in case the soil in contaminated.

Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease that any warm-blooded vertebrate can acquire. Cats and humans are most commonly infected. Pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk.

Cats may not show signs of having disease. However cats that spend time outdoors – especially if they hunt small prey – are more likely to acquire toxoplasmosis. 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.

Cryptosporidiosis, or crypto for short, is a protozoan parasite. This parasite loves water.Infected animals can transmit crypto by defecating in ponds, lakes and other bodies of water. Your dog or cat can acquire crypto by drinking contaminated water or eating the feces of a contaminated animal. People typically acquire the disease through swimming or other contact with contaminated water.

Lyme disease is a vector-borne illness. The vector is the vehicle of transmission, in this case it is the Ixodes tick, also known as the deer tick or black-legged tick. The tick transmits the Lyme organism, a spirochete, to a dog or a person and both can become infected. Download this brochure for more information.

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.