GENERAL GUIDELINES: Parasite Testing and Prevention

By Vet-Advantage
October, 2016

General Guidelines of the Companion Animal Parasite Council

Parasite testing and protection guided by veterinarians

  • Conduct preventive physical examinations at least every six to 12 months.
  • Conduct annual heartworm testing in dogs; test cats prior to placing on heartworm preventive and thereafter as indicated.
  • Test annually for tick-transmitted pathogens, especially in regions where pathogens are endemic or emerging.
  • Conduct fecal examinations by centrifugation at least four times during the first year of life, and at least two times per year in adults, depending on patient health and lifestyle factors.
  • Prescribe control programs to local parasite prevalence and individual pet lifestyle factors.
  • Adapt prevention recommendations to address emerging parasite threats.
  • In areas where Lyme disease is considered endemic or emerging, vaccinate dogs against Borrelia burgdorferi.
  • Confirm pets have been both recently tested for parasite infection and are current on broad-spectrum internal and external parasite control prior to boarding or visiting shared space animal facilities.

Every pet, all year long

  • Administer year-round broad-spectrum parasite control with efficacy against heartworm, intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks. Control of parasites with zoonotic potential is essential.
  • Administer anthelmintic treatment to puppies and kittens starting at two weeks of age and repeating every two weeks until regular broad-spectrum parasite control begins.
  • Maintain pregnant and nursing dams on broad-spectrum control products.

Healthy lifestyle, healthy pets, healthy people

  • Feed pets commercial or cooked food (not raw diets) and provide fresh water.
  • Cover sandboxes when not in use, and protect garden areas from fecal contamination.
  • Pick up feces immediately when walking a dog in a public area and from the yard on a daily basis.
  • To prevent roaming and limit predation, keep dogs on a leash or behind a fence and keep cats indoors.
  • Permanently identify dogs and cats through microchip implantation.
  • Do not handle animal feces or urine with bare hands, and wash hands immediately after incidental contact. This recommendation is particularly important for children and individuals at increased risk.
  • Properly dispose of animal waste according to local municipal regulations.
  • Spay or neuter all pets not intended for breeding.

If less than optimal control is practiced

  • For puppies and kittens, administer anthelmintics starting at two weeks of age, repeating every two weeks until two months of age, monthly until six months of age, and quarterly thereafter.
  • Treat all adult pets four times a year with a broad-spectrum anthelmintic with efficacy against intestinal parasites.
  • Conduct fecal examinations by centrifugation at least four times a year, depending on patient health and lifestyle factors.
  • Encourage annual testing for heartworm and other vector-borne infections in dogs and routine, year-round use of heartworm preventive, monthly intestinal parasite control, and flea and tick control in all pets.


These guidelines were last reviewed and edited in March 2016.

Source: Companion Animal Parasite Council, 

The Companion Animal Parasite Council ( is an independent not-for-profit foundation comprised of parasitologists, veterinarians, medical, public health and other professionals that provides information for the optimal control of internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people. Formed in 2002, the CAPC works to help veterinary professionals and pet owners develop the best practices in parasite management that protect pets from parasitic infections and reduce the risk of zoonotic parasite transmission. 

Topics: CAPC


Subscribe to Email Updates