Intestinal Parasites Overview

Apr 2, 2020   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

Worms are never a pleasant topic and no one wants to think of their beloved pet being infested with parasites, but understanding the risks, symptoms, and treatment options for worms is an important part of a pet's health and wellness plan.

There are six main types of intestinal parasites they affect our pets: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms and giardia.

While each type of parasite affects pets differently, there are some general symptoms:

·         Diarrhea

·         Abdominal pain

·         Weight loss

·         Vomiting

·         Poor coat appearance

·         Pot-bellied appearance

·         Lethargy

·         Dehydration

·         Deficiencies in nutrition and anemia

·         Intestinal blockage or pneumonia

·         Blood in stool (either bright red or darker purple)

Roundworms

Roundworms are some of the most common intestinal worms in dogs.  Many puppies are born with roundworms which they obtain from their mother. Therefore, it's vital that newborn puppies receive appropriate veterinary care. Infected dogs shed the microscopic roundworm eggs in their feces and other dogs may become infected by sniffing or licking infected feces. Roundworms are diagnosed by a fecal sample and are treated with deworming medications. If left untreated, roundworms can lead to poor growth and even death in severe cases. You can protect your pet from infestation from not allowing dogs to sniff, lick or eat the fecal matter of another animal and by thoroughly wiping a pet's paws after they've been in the yard or pet park where fecal matter may be present.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite that dogs acquire by eating fleas or flea eggs. Once the dog eats the flea or egg, the tapeworm egg hatches and attaches to the dog's intestinal lining. Infected dogs may pass segments of tapeworms in their stool. Tapeworms are flatworms and may resemble little pieces of rice or linguini in fecal matter. Sometimes affected dogs may scoot their bottoms along the ground. If a pet is scooting, visually check the rectal area of your pet as tapeworms may be present in that area. If you see signs in your dog's stool or notice your dog scooting, take a stool sample to your veterinarian for diagnosis. Tapeworms are one of the few worms that can be seen with the naked eye and a fecal test may come back with a false negative due to the fecal sample used. If you are noticing worms in your pet's fecal matter, take a picture or video of what you are seeing to show your veterinarian. If your vet finds eggs or tapeworm segments, your dog will receive a treatment to eliminate the tapeworms. A drug is administered orally or by injection. Treatment also involves ridding any fleas from your dog and your home environment. You can protect your pet from infestation by controlling the flea population in your yard, treating fleas on your pets with a preventative or natural remedy, not allowing dogs to sniff, lick or eat the fecal matter of another animal and by thoroughly wiping a pet's paws after they've been in the yard or pet park where fecal matter may be present. For help with controlling the flea population in your home, our article on Homeopathic Flea and Tick Treatments may help. If one pet has tapeworm, it's best to treat all animals in the house due to its ease of spread. Make sure to clean all fecal matter from your yard to make sure your pet doesn't re-infest itself or other pets in the home or pets visiting the home.  

Hookworms

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that cause anemia in dogs and can be fatal in puppies if left untreated. Several different kinds of hookworms can affect dogs. They are very small but ingest large amounts of blood when they attach to the dog's intestinal wall.

Your dog can get hookworms from ingesting hookworm eggs from the environment or fecal matter or they can pass from a mother's milk to her puppies. Infected dogs pass the eggs in their stool, where they hatch and can remain alive in soil for as long as several months. A dog may eat the infected dirt or lick it from the bottom of its paws, or sniff infected dog feces. Be aware- humans can also become infected with hookworms. Signs of hookworm is human is abdominal pain, intestinal cramps, nausea, fever, blood in your stool and an itchy skin rash.

Hookworms are diagnosed with fecal flotation, when the stool is mixed with a solution that causes the hookworm eggs to float to the top. Dogs are treated with deworming medications, usually administered twice –first for the adult worms and then two-to-four weeks later to catch those that are newly developed. You can protect your pet from infestation from not allowing dogs to sniff, lick or eat the fecal matter of another animal and by thoroughly wiping a pet's paws after they've been in the yard or pet park where fecal matter may be present.

Whipworms

Whipworms are a type of worm in dogs that lives in the large intestine and colon, where they pass their eggs into the dog's feces. Dogs get whipworms from ingesting contaminated soil, food, water, or feces.

The eggs can survive for up to five years in suitable environments (warm and moist), which is one of the reasons why picking up your dog's immediately is so important!

You can protect your pet from infestation from not allowing dogs to sniff, lick or eat the fecal matter of another animal and by thoroughly wiping a pet's paws after they've been in the yard or pet park where fecal matter may be present. If you think your pet is infected, don't allow them to share food or water bowls with other pets in the home.

Giardia is a parasite that lives in your dog's intestine. Dogs can get Giardia by drinking water that has been contaminated by feces or by eating something that has been contaminated by feces. This includes eating grass, chewing on sticks, or drinking from puddles. Giardia is highly contagious and can take up to 30 days to get rid of it. In addition, it's easily passed to other animals in the home, so if you have multiple pets in the home, make sure they are not sharing the same food or water bowl or chewing on the same toys. While the odds are low of dog to human transfer, humans can also get giardia so don't allow your pet to kiss you on the face and wash your hands if your pet has licked them.

You can protect your pet picking up the giardia parasite by not allowing dogs to sniff, lick or eat the fecal matter of another animal, by thoroughly wiping a pet's paws after they've been in the yard or pet park where fecal matter may be present and by not allowing a pet to drink from puddles, creeks or stagnant water.

Even though not an intestinal parasite, ringworm is a common infection that affects both humans and pets. Ringworm is actually caused by a fungal infection and not a worm. Ringworm can be spread from skin-to-skin contact with another person or a pet or by touching objects that are soiled with the fungus. Ringworm is highly contagious and spreads extremely easily. To protect yourself and your pet from ringworm, always wash your hands after playing with your pet, and avoid hot, high humid areas where fungus is more likely to grow.

Worms are never a fun topic, but it's necessary to know the warning signs and how to recognize the symptoms and how to prevent infestation to keep our pets safe from these dangerous parasites. 

 
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