What is a parasite?
A parasite is a plant or an animal that lives on or inside
another living organism (host). A parasite is dependent on
its host and obtains some benefit, such as survival, usually
at the host's expense.
Are there different types of parasites?
There are two basic types:
Internal parasites (endoparasites) such as heartworms, hookworms
and roundworms, live inside the body of a plant or animal
and produce an infection within the host.
External parasites (ectoparasites) such as fleas, ticks,
ear mites and sarcoptic mites, live on the body of the host
and produce an infestation.
How dangerous are parasites to my pet?
The effects of parasites can range from annoying to deadly.
Left untreated or uncontrolled, parasites such as heartworms
can be life threatening. Others, such as fleas, can simply
cause discomfort or in severe cases, blood-loss anemia. Some
parasites present a potential health risk to humans as well.
Are flea bites actually harmful, or just annoying?
Flea bites and saliva can irritate your pet's skin and lead
to a condition called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), the most
common skin allergy in dogs and cats.1 In less severe cases,
it just adds to the itching and misery. In more severe cases,
it can cause skin problems.
Are parasites a danger to my family?
It's important to protect your pets for their sake as well
as yours. Left unchecked, several parasites can be transmitted
from dogs and cats to humans. This process, called zoonosis,
can cause a variety of health problems. For example, fleas
and sarcoptic mange can produce red, itchy skin rashes and
skin infections. Hookworms or roundworms can lead to many
ailments in humans including nausea, neurological disorders,
and even blindness.
1 Quinn JP, Donnelly WJC, Carter ME, et al.:
Skin, In: Microbial and Parasitic Diseases of the Cat and
Dog , London: WB Saunders Company Ltd., pp 292-340, 1997
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