First of all, they’re really gross. More important than that, keeping the various parasites under control is much healthier for your pet and your family. Some of the more common parasites in this area are: fleas, some ticks, tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, ear mites and Giardia.
Contrary to public belief, dogs and cats do not carry pinworms and cannot be infected with them.
Ticks generally stick to areas of thick underbrush (in our immediate area we have noted them mostly in the Hockinson Hills area). Both of these blood-sucking skin parasites can be controlled.
Tapeworms are contracted generally by ingesting a flea. Fleas harbor tapeworm larvae that manifest themselves as adult tapeworms, usually in the large intestine. Cats and dogs ingest the flea through grooming and/or eating something that may have fleas on it. The fleas get digested but the tapeworm larva grows into the adult tapeworm and steals nutrients from the host. They are mostly a symbiotic parasite but gone unchecked they can cause problems. They generally look like small pieces of flat white rice and will be seen either in the stool, near the rectum, in vomit or on the bedding.
Roundworms, Hookworms and Giardia are potentially serious not only to your pet, but to you and your children! These are known as zoonotic parasites, meaning they are parasites that can also infect humans. Roundworms and Hookworms are large intestine parasites that not only suck nutrients from the host but also inflict damage. If their growth goes uncontrolled, it could be potentially damaging or even fatal to puppies and kittens. In humans, roundworms can cause permanent liver, nerve or eye damage, even blindness. Hookworms typically move about within the skin causing inflammation of the affected area. Giardia is a protozoal zoonotic parasite that can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and dehydration.
Ear mites are blood sucking parasites that are more common in cats but dogs can get them also. Dogs are more likely to get ear infections rather than ear mites.
The good news is that these conditions and more are treatable! With a little knowledge and a good veterinarian you can protect your pet and your family.