Most Common Worms In Dogs

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Most Common Worms In Dogs

Most Common Worms In Dogs
Most Common Worms In Dogs

Dogs and cats can become hosts to many intestinal parasites and a few general statements apply to all parasitic infections.

 

  • At this time, there is no one “dewormer” that can eliminate all species of parasites. Consequently, an accurate diagnosis is necessary to treat your dog properly. Your dog’s veterinarian will help you with this diagnosis.
  • Diagnosis is usually made from microscopic examination of a fresh stool sample (passed less than 12 hours ago) or, in the case of tapeworms, by seeing the segments in the stool. It is advisable to have your veterinarian test your dog’s stool periodically to make certain that your dog is not harboring any of these parasites. It is also advisable to visually examine your dog’s stool for signs of tapeworm segments or other abnormalities (diarrhea, bloody stools, excessively hard stools, etc) which may indicate that your dog needs medical attention.
  • All deworming medicines have the potential to produce side effects and should only be used as needed and under proper conditions. Your veterinarian will discuss the proper usage of these medications with you. There are many different medications available for treating intestinal parasites. The proper choice will depend on the type of parasite present, the risk of re-infection, and the physical condition of your dog. Therefore, your dog’s veterinarian should be consulted before using any of these medications.
  • Most puppies and kittens are infected before birth and, for this reason, your veterinarian may recommend “deworming” at a very young age. If hookworms are suspected, your veterinarian may advise “deworming” or checking your puppies/kittens stools starting as early as 2-3 weeks of age.
  • Many times, more than one treatment is necessary in order to rid your dog of these parasites. Your veterinarian will recommend the proper medication for treatment and discuss the appropriate treatment intervals with you. These will vary depending on the type of parasite present and the severity of the infection.
  • Many of the monthly heartworm preventatives now available also help prevent certain types of intestinal parasites. Commonly, these include roundworms and hookworms, although some of the heartworm preventatives can also help control tapeworms or whipworms.
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Following is a brief description of the common intestinal parasites seen in dogs and cats, detailing the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and the risk of human transmission.

Most Common Worms In Dogs

Most Common Worms In Dogs
Most Common Worms In Dogs

Roundworms:

  • This is a common worm of puppies and kittens but can be seen in dogs and cats of any age.
  • Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces or from a description of the worm if it is seen in the stool or vomitus.
  • Symptoms will vary from none to marked vomiting and diarrhea and abdominal swelling.
  • Transmission to adult dogs and cats occurs by infected feces contaminating the yard. As a result, prevention is accomplished by isolating your dog from infected feces of other animals.
  • Your dog’s veterinarian will prescribe the proper treatment for your dog. Follow his/her directions carefully in giving the medication. For dogs, many of the heartworm preventives routinely used, such as Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution, also aid in preventing roundworm infection.
  • Transmission to humans is rare; young children can develop �visceral larval migrans� by eating dirt contaminated with feces.

 

Hookworms:

  • This is also a common worm of puppies and kittens but is seen with equal frequency in adults.
  • This parasite sucks your dog�s blood and can cause severe anemia.
  • Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of your dog�s stool.
  • Symptoms will vary from none to blood in the stool (dark tar-colored stool) with diarrhea.
  • Your veterinarian will prescribe the proper medication to rid your dog of hookworms. Severe cases may need a transfusion and hospitalization.
  • Transmission to adult animals occurs by infected feces contaminating the grass or soil. Prevention, therefore, requires that your dog is kept away from contaminated areas. Many of the commonly used heartworm preventive medications, such as Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution, aid in the prevention of hookworms also.
  • Transmission to humans is uncommon and usually shows up as skin lesions.
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Whipworms:

  • This worm affects dogs only.
  • Diagnosis is made from a microscopic exam of the feces. Eggs from this parasite pass intermittently, however, so it may be necessary to check multiple fecal samples before a diagnosis is made.
  • Symptoms vary from none to a severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, and marked weight loss.
  • Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate medication for treatment and discuss with you the proper dosing intervals. This parasite has a longer life cycle than many of the other parasites, so treatment may be more prolonged as well. Some dogs require hospitalization for treatment of dehydration, malnutrition, and infection, depending on the severity of clinical signs. Certain medications used in preventing heartworms, such as Interceptor, may also help in treating and/or preventing whipworm infections.
  • There is no human transmission.

 

Tapeworms:

  • This common worm affects both dogs and cats.
  • Transmission occurs when your dog grooms him or herself and �eats� a flea, or when he/she hunts and eats small animals, such as rabbits, squirrels, etc. The intermediate form of the tapeworm is inside the flea�s body (or the body of the rabbit or squirrel) and it then attaches to the intestine and begins to grow �segments�. In about 3 weeks, these segments begin to pass in the stool. They are approximate � to � inch long, flat, and white. After a short time in the air, they dry up to resemble a small yellow flat seed.
  • Diagnosis is made from seeing these segments on the stool or around your dog�s anal region. They will sometimes show up on the microscopic fecal exam as well.
  • Your veterinarian will advise you which medication is best to rid your dog of the tapeworms. However, available tapeworm treatments will not prevent further infection if your dog is exposed again. The only prevention is strict flea control and restricted hunting activity.
  • There is no direct transmission from dog or cat to a human (although people can be infected by eating contaminated meat).
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Giardia:

  • This parasite is not a worm. It is a very tiny single-celled parasite that can live in the intestines of dogs, cats, and man.
  • It is seen most commonly in dogs coming out of kennel-type situations (dog stores, shelters, dog pounds, etc.) but its incidence is increasing.
  • Symptoms include intermittent or continuous diarrhea, weight loss, depression, and loss of appetite.
  • Diagnosis is made from a very fresh fecal specimen.
  • A surprising number of affected animals are �occult�; that is, they are infected but are negative on these tests even with multiple examinations. As a result, this parasite is often treated without a confirming diagnosis.
  • Prevention involves careful disposal of all fecal material and cleaning contaminated areas.
  • Humans can become infected with Giardia, so special care must be taken to wash hands and utensils.

 

Coccidia:

  • This is also a single-celled parasite.
  • It is seen primarily in puppies and kittens, although debilitated adults can also be affected.
  • Transmission occurs by eating the infective stage of the parasite. It then reproduces in the intestinal tract causing no symptoms in mild cases to bloody diarrhea in severely affected dogs.
  • Diagnosis is made from a fresh stool sample.
  • Treatment varies greatly depending on your dog’s condition. Severely affected dogs may need hospitalization.
  • Prevention involves disposal of all stools and cleaning your dog�s living area.
  • Human transmission is uncommon but can occur.
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