Fun Facts About Parasites

Parasites can be a pain for both owners and pets, many people do not know a lot about these creepy critters.

Here are some fun facts about parasites:

  • There are more than 800 different species of ticks, some of which can spread diseases including Lyme disease, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. All ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, or reptiles.
  • Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are in the same family as spiders.
  • The scientific name for the deer tick, or black-legged tick, is Ixodes scapularis. This tick carries Lyme disease.
  • Ticks can live up to 200 days without food or water.
  • Ticks can consume 100 times their body weight in blood.
  • Adult heartworm can live 5-7 years.
  • Heartworm is spread only through mosquito bites.
  • A single flea can bite up to 400 times per day.
  • Fleas can jump distances 150 times their size.
  • A female flea can lay 2000 eggs.
  • Flea infestations can cause anemia.
  • Fleas can jump 30,000 times in a row without stopping.
  • Indoor pets can get worms, fleas, and ticks.
  • Your pet can get tapeworm from eating infected fleas.
  • Pets can get worms from ingesting cockroaches.
  • Puppies and kittens get roundworms from their moms.
  • Signs of intestinal worms can include vomiting, diarrhea, loose stool, bloated looking abdomen, bloody stool, and loss of appetite.
  • Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Many parasites are tiny and hard to see, without using a microscope. Also, intestinal worms aren’t always shedding so are not still in the stool.
  • 15% of plant potting soil contains hookworm or roundworm eggs (according to a 2006 study in Veterinary Record).
  • Cheyletiella (walking dandruff) is one of the only mites visible without a microscope.
  • Ringworm is not a worm! It is a certain type of fungal infection.
  • Some parasites can harm humans as well as our pets! Young children are, particularly at risk.

If you have questions about parasites and your pet, please do not hesitate to ask your veterinary healthcare team!

Written by Mikaila Cariou, RVT