How to Prevent Parasites in Dogs and Cats

October 24, 2019
It's important to take the right steps to prevent parasites in dogs and cats to avoid serious issues.

Parasites can be either internal or external, but all of them can cause diseases and serious complications in our pets. In the following article, we’ll tell you how to prevent parasites in dogs and cats.

How to prevent parasites in dogs and cats: internal microorganisms

Gastrointestinal parasites are the ones that most commonly affect our pets. These can produce serious diseases in the animal and can also infect people.

These parasites live in the stomach as well as in the intestines and they vary in size (some are even invisible to the human eye). The most common are:

The gastrointestinal parasite’s eggs are found in the infected animal’s feces. As soon as they come into contact with another being, they can be ‘passed on’ to the next host. So, one way to keep your pet from getting them is to watch him closely when he’s sniffing around the park or in places where other animals are.

Other ways to get infected are through small animals — like rodents— or from mother to offspring (through the mother’s milk or placenta).

A dog scratching itself.

When people ask their veterinarians what they should do to prevent parasites in their dogs and cats, they usually recommend similar treatments for all cases. There are preventative medications that should be used every month, but there are other actions that we can also take:

  • Collect stools from the yard to reduce the risk of contamination
  • Clean your cat’s litter box and keep it covered when you aren’t using it
  • Wash your hands well after cleaning pet grooming areas
  • Take your dog or cat to the vet once or twice a year for a checkup
  • Follow the vaccination schedule
  • Make sure there aren’t any mice or rats around your house
  • Use internal antiparasitics. These come in tablets, pastes or pipettes for external use
  • Clean the utensils and containers that your dog uses to eat or drink

How to prevent parasites in dogs and cats: external microorganisms

These are usually more common in the summer or when it’s hot, as they can proliferate more quickly. Some examples of external parasites that can affect our pets are fleas, ticks and even mosquitoes, lice and mites.

External parasites can cause several diseases and symptoms like allergies and skin reactions. They can also cause anemia due to the amount of blood they consume, as well as injuries from scratching, physical damage, weakness and babesiosis or leishmaniasis. These are two serious diseases that can be deadly for the animal.

A grey cat scratching.

It’s very important to prevent the proliferation of external parasites in our pets. The good news is that there are different methods you can use to do so, as long as you apply them correctly:

  • Pipettes (these last one month)
  • Flea collars (last about six months)
  • Anti-mosquito sprays (can be effective for up to eight weeks)
  • Pills (last for 30 days)

More helpful tips

Also, we recommend the following actions to keep external parasites from affecting your dog or cat:

  • Use citronella repellents around your home to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Don’t leave containers with standing water in them because they’ll attract insects.
  • Periodically give your pet a bath with flea shampoo or something similar (never human shampoo).
  • Reduce your pets contact with other animals, especially in smaller spaces.
  • Complete his vaccination schedule to keep his immune system strong.
  • If you have more than one pet in your house, you should give them separate parasite treatment.
  • Clean all of your cat or dog’s things well (bed, litter box, bowl, etc.).
  • Take your pet to the vet twice a year for a routine check-up.

If you were wondering how to prevent parasites in dogs and cats, now you’ve got plenty to help you! Don’t let the microorganisms win!

Paternina-Gómez, M., Díaz-Olmos, Y., Paternina, L. E., & Bejarano, E. E. (2013). Alta prevalencia de infección por Leishmania (Kinetoplastidae: Trypanosomatidae) en caninos del norte de Colombia. Biomédica. https://doi.org/10.7705/biomedica.v33i3.780