Most dog owners have, at one time or another, seen a flea or a tick in their dog’s fur. Humans and other animals coexist naturally with various parasites. And these creatures come in different sizes and shapes, which help them invade our bodies in the most efficient way. But the dangers of these living things can go far beyond a small bite. Here we tell you why it is so important that you avoid parasites in your pets.
The world of parasites
Parasitism is a type of symbiosis, a cohabitation in which one of two parties (the parasite) benefits from the relationship. However, the host has to pay for it in some way in almost every case.
There are different types of parasites that are classified according to where they are in the host’s body:
- Ectoparasites : These live outside the host’s body, such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Because we can see them with the naked eye and interact with them, these are the most well-known parasites.
- Endoparasites : These live inside the host’s body and can be divided into two types. We have extracellular endoparasites, which live outside various tissue cells, such as tapeworms attach to the surface of the intestinal mucosa and feed on the host animal. Then we have intracellular endoparasites, which live inside tissue cells. Although it may seem strange, viruses can sometimes be considered intracellular parasites, as they invade the cells and multiply inside them.
- Mesoparasites : Part of the parasite’s body lives outside the animal’s body and the other part is attached inside the animal’s tissues. This is the most unusual type of parasite.
Parasites are also classified according to whether they need a host to survive or not:
- Mandatory parasites : These need a host to fulfill their life cycle. For example, ticks cannot survive without the blood of a vertebrate animal. They have to attach themselves to an animal in order to reproduce.
- Optional parasites : These can infect an animal or develop on their own. Several different species of flies can lay eggs in carcasses or living animal tissue, depending on the situation. Therefore, they do not need a living host to fulfill their life cycle.
Why is it so important to avoid parasites in pets?
Most parasites that infect pets are invertebrate. And while most only cause mild or temporary discomfort, they can, in large quantities or at times, cause serious illness.
Below we will focus on two reasons why it is so important to avoid parasites in pets.
Parasites steal the host’s nutrients
Most parasites feed on the blood of invertebrates. This blood is very valuable because it contains proteins, mineral salts and water. The animal needs a certain amount of these in order for a body to continue to function.
The presence of parasites can cause several symptoms, including:
- Vomiting and diarrhea, if the parasites are in the intestines
- Fatigue, exhaustion, dull fur or dull feathers ; in the end, the parasites steal protein components that the animal needs to feel good.
- Respiratory problems
All of these are already great reasons to avoid parasites in pets, but there are more…
Parasites are carriers
Given their close relationship to vertebrate blood circulation, many microorganisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, use them as mediators of infections. This is why mosquitoes are such great carriers.
An excellent example is the flatworm map Dipylidium caninum . This worm, in its larval form, is waiting to be accidentally eaten by a cat or dog while washing. Once inside the body, the larva transforms into its adult form, which can grow up to 70 cm long.
It is your responsibility to avoid parasites in your pets
Dogs, cats and other small animals including birds are unable to tell us when something is wrong. Just imagine having a tick on your back, just out of reach, that constantly sucks your blood. Sounds uncomfortable, right?
This is why it is so important to regularly inspect your pet’s fur, especially in the spring and summer. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to keep our pets healthy and prevent them from being infected by parasites.