Parasites: Are They in Your Yard?
Pets, Parasites and Your Yard: What You Need to Know
Unfortunately, pets and parasites can sometimes go hand in hand. Your pet can ingest parasite eggs from contaminated soil in your yard, and subsequently, your pet can also contaminate the soil if they have a parasitic infection. Understanding the type of parasites that can be harmful to your pet and the best prevention methods for parasites in your yard can help you keep your pet and your home as healthy as possible.
Common Types of Parasites Found in Soil
Several types of parasites are commonly found in the soil. It's important to note that the type of parasites that can live in your soil may vary based on your local climate. These are several parasites to be aware of if you have dogs or cats:
- Roundworms — Roundworms are a parasite that can infect the soil through pet waste. These parasites live in the intestinal tract of dogs, and when a dog is infected, the roundworms are present in their feces. When the dog defecates in the yard and the waste sits for hours or days, the roundworms can travel into the soil and contaminate it. Roundworms are particularly dangerous because not only can your pet become infected from contaminated soil, but so can any children who come into contact with this parasite in the yard.
- Hookworms — Hookworms are another intestinal parasite that can live in your pet's feces and contaminate the soil in your yard. Hookworms cause diarrhea and other intestinal issues in pets, so it is important to promptly clean up their mess in the yard if they have a hookworm infection.
- Giardia — Giardia is another type of parasite that can be found in pets and live in the soil. This parasite lives in an infected animal's feces and can easily be transmitted to any human or animal who comes into contact with those feces. It is worth noting that giardia infections can cause gastrointestinal issues, or they can be asymptomatic. Giardia is highly contagious, so if you find that your pet is infected with this parasite, you should handle their feces with care.
How Do Parasites Enter the Soil?
Parasites typically enter the soil through the feces of animals. Some parasites, such as roundworms, are not infectious within fresh feces. However, as the feces sits in the yard, the roundworms can become infectious and travel into the soil. Other parasites are immediately infectious and quickly transfer to the soil, contaminating the yard.
It's important to note that many animals can carry parasites, including rodents that live in the area or feral cats that traverse through the neighborhood. Being mindful of the signs and symptoms of parasites is important, particularly if you have pets or children living in your home. Both humans and animals can become infected with parasites, making yard maintenance critical to protecting the health and safety of those who live in your home.
How Do You Know if You Have Parasites in Your Yard?
Since the larvae of parasites can't be seen by the naked eye, it can be difficult to tell if you have parasites in your yard. Even though you cannot see them, large populations of parasites can thrive in your soil for weeks and months. Contaminated soil can put your pet's health as well as your family's health at risk. As such, it's very important that you keep a clean and sanitary yard — especially if you have a pet who will be spending a lot of time playing in your yard.
How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Parasites?
There are several ways to tell if your pet has a parasitic infection, such as:
- You begin to notice the signs and symptoms of parasites in your pet. Most parasitic infections will cause gastrointestinal issues in your pet, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramping. Your pet also may begin scooting, losing weight, or even coughing if they are infected with a parasite. If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, it is important to bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
- You may see the parasites in your pet's feces. Roundworms, for example, look like spaghetti noodles and are very obvious. If you notice any types of worms in your pet's fecal matter, you should carefully collect a sample and bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
- Your veterinarian may detect worms in your pet's feces during a routine exam. Most veterinarians require you to bring in a fecal sample from your pet's annual visit so that it can be tested for parasites. It's worth noting that pets can develop parasitic infections at any age or stage of life, so this routine test is very important to your pet's overall health and well-being.
Tips for Preventing Parasites in Your Yard
These tips can help you prevent parasites from contaminating your soil:
- Clean up after your pet regularly. You should pick up the waste in your yard at least once every day to keep parasites from contaminating your soil.
- Keep an eye out for droppings from other animals in your yard, especially if you have a garden. Carefully remove any animal waste from your yard as soon as you find it.
- Make lawn care and maintenance a top priority. By creating a sanitary environment, you can keep everyone in your home safe and healthy.
Keeping your pets happy and healthy doesn't have to be a chore. When you keep a clean and sanitary home and yard, you will be able to provide your pet with a place where they can both live and thrive.