A new alarming study from a veterinarian out of Los Angeles found that one out of every eight pets in Southern California tests positive for internal parasites.
An internal parasite can plague a pet's insides causing health issues and affecting appetite and bowels.
"If you don't pick up after your dog goes to the bathroom you could be putting other pets at risk of getting parasites," Dr. Berk Utsukarci, a veterinarian at Tierramesa Veterinary Clinic in San Diego. "Other dogs that sniff it or walk through it can digest worms."
In dogs, the occurrence of hookworms has remained stable over the last five years, according to Banfield Pet Hospital. Dogs can catch hookworms by playing in contaminated soil.
A dog with a parasite will display symptoms of a poor appetite. The lining of the dog's nostrils, ears and lips or gums could be pale in color.
"They could have diarrhea and sometimes vomit," said Utsukarci.
In cats, tapeworms are the most prominent parasite, according to Banfield Pet Hospital. Roundworms and whipworms can also affect house cats.
"Fleas can carry parasites to house cats as well," added Utsukarci. "It is not as common since most cats live inside."
Due to the good weather in San Diego, local dogs and cats are prone to fleas and parasites year-round, Utsukarci warned.
He said the best prevention is to use a monthly medication for dogs and cats: pills or creams are effective.
"Pick up after your pet," added Utsukarci. "Don't let your pets near dried poop from wildlife either."
Consult your veterinarian for a list of the most up-to-date medications that will work for your pet.