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Internal Parasites

Roundworms

What are they?
Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the dog and cat. Once the eggs are ingested, they hatch in the small intestine. The larvae then penetrate the intestinal wall and migrate to a number of different organs and tissues - such as the liver, lungs, eyes and brain.

How do dogs and cats get roundworms?
Dogs and cats of any age can get roundworms, but they are most vulnerable when they are very young, very old or immune suppressed. The very young can get roundworms from their mother through the placenta and the mother's milk. Adults can get roundworms from coming in contact with affected soil, toys, food or water dishes and then ingesting the eggs from those contaminated surfaces.

What are the signs of roundworm infestation?
Roundworms move around in the intestine and eat some of the nutrients intended for the pet. Occasionally they will cause irritation inside the intestine and transient diarrhea or if they are in great enough numbers they can actually block the intestine and constipate the animal. If they find their way to the stomach they can cause the pet to vomit up the worm. As important to the pet's health are the migrating juveniles. As they pass through the liver and lungs they can cause pnemonia or hepatitis. Signs of roundworm infestation include: dull coat, pot-bellied unthrifty appearence, poor weight gain, vomiting, coughing, intermittent diarrhea or constipation. Heavily infested puppies or kittens occasionally die of worm-related pneumonia.

What is the treatment?
It is easy to get rid of the roundworms when an effective dewormer is used. We can decide which dewormer is right for your pet. We deworm all puppies and kittens every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age, then we check a stool sample 1 month later. For adults we may deworm 1-2 times (1 month apart). Home care is important to be sure the pet does not get reinfected. Cleaning up stools daily is very important. Be sure to always wash your hands after handling your pet's stool.

Can humans get roundworms?
Yes, humans can get infected with roundworms by ingesting the eggs. Children are especially vulnerable because they are less likely to wash their hands after touching contaminated areas or objects. After the eggs are ingested, they soon hatch into larvae. The larvae then travel through the liver, lungs, and other organs. In most cases, wandering worms will not cause symptoms or apparent damage. In some cases however, they can cause damage to soft tissue and sometimes affect the nerves or even lodge in the eye - causing nerve and eye damage (even blindness).

 

Whipworms

What are they?
Whipworms are internal parasites. They bury their heads into the wall of the large intestines and cecum. They are very tiny and can't be seen with the unaided eye. Whipworms get their name because they have a larger head and whip-like, thin tail.

How do dogs and cats get whipworms?
When a dog or cat walks over the eggs and lick their paws (or egg infested soil gets on their toys, food, ect.) the eggs are swallowed. Within 1 to 3 months the eggs hatch in the intestine, attach to the intestinal wall, begin sucking blood from the pet and lay eggs.
Dogs and cats are infested by ingesting the eggs. Whipworms are not passed from mother to offspring, they make no migrations through the skin and they never get in the mother's milk. The eggs have a thick brown shell that is so tough that the eggs can live in the soil for years. Although the eggs resist freezing, they are susceptible to drying and sunlight (this is a good reason for concrete kennel floors).

What are the signs of whipworm infestation?
Signs may include any or all of the following: inapparent infestations, nonspecific diarrhea, blood-streaked diarrhea, unthriftiness, weight loss. Most infestations are inapparent. The problem is that whipworms can precipitate "recurring" diarrhea and colitis. Since the adult whipworms may not lay eggs everyday, if a fecal floatation is performed they might not be found. The diarrhea however, keeps coming and going. Like the hookworm, the whipworm also sucks blood, but not nearly as much. When the whipworm buries it's head in the intestinal wall it will cause a tremendous inflammatory reaction. The inflamed intestinal wall gets red, eroded and prone to invasion by bacteria. This is the underlying cause of the intermittent diarrhea. If the diarrhea is treated with antibiotics it will go away, only to come back later. The bacteria are killed, but if the whipworms are missed the damage to the intestinal wall continues allowing recurrent bacterial infection to invade the intestine and cause diarrhea. That's why we recheck stool samples.

What is the treatment?
It is easy to get rid of whipworms when an effective dewormer is used. Most over-the-counter dewormer's do not affect the whipworms. We can decide which dewormer is right for your pet. However, eggs are still a problem. It is best to clean, clean, clean. Replace all old toys and bones that your pet uses. Once the eggs have contaminated the ground, it will be infected for years. If your dog is tied out, it needs to be moved to new ground to get away from the eggs. If you can not move the tie-down or kennel, you then should deworm every 1-3 months to prevent re-infestation.

Can humans get whipworms?
No, humans can not get whipworms.

 

Hookworms

What are they?
Hookworms are intestinal parasites that grasp the inner surface of the intestinal wall with their teeth and pierce blood vessels. The saliva from the hookworm has an anti-coagulant in it which prevents the blood from clotting. Each hookworm can suck 0.1 ml of blood a day. If they release, the wound continues to bleed.

How do dogs and cats get hookworms?
Kittens and puppies are most likely born with hookworms. Hookworm are transferred through the placenta or the mother's milk to the young. Adults can get hookworms from ingesting the larvae found in a contaminated environment (like a blade of grass, toys, food or water dishes). Free living larvae can also penetrate intact skin of dogs and cats.

What are the signs of hookworm infestation?
Signs may include any or all of the following: diarrhea, dark black (tarry) diarrhea. bloody diarrhea, vomiting, poor or no appetite, pale mucous membranes in the mouth, weakness, emaciation and poor growth. Anemia can be so severe as to cause death.

What is the treatment?
It is easy to get rid of the hookworms when an effective dewormer is used. We can decide which dewormer is right for your pet. We deworm all puppies and kittens every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age, then we check a stool sample 1 month later. For adults we may deworm 1-2 times (1 month apart). Home care is important to be sure the pet does not get reinfected. Cleaning up stools daily is very important. Be sure to always wash your hands after handling your pet's stool. Hookworms can be very difficult to remove from the ground, making it difficult to prevent re-infestation if the pet has shed eggs onto the ground for a long period of time. Persistant infestations may need monthly treatment to prevent recurrence.

Can humans get hookworms?
Yes, humans can get hookworms when they come into contact with an area contaminated with larvae. The larvae penetrate the skin and then migrate causing a condition called cutaneous larva migrans or "creeping eruptions".

 

Tapeworms

What are they?
Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that live in the small intestine. The tapeworm hooks onto the wall of the intestine with a structure called a rostellum and six rows of teeth to grab the intestine with. Once the tapeworm is attached to the intestinal wall, it begins to grow a long tail. As the tapeworm absorbs the nutrients the older segments move to the end of the tail to eventually get released. The segments that get is full of eggs. The segment then gets passed in the stool of the infected animal or gets stuck to the fur on the rear of the animal.


How do dogs and cats get tapeworms?

Your pet can get tapeworms by eating a flea, which happens easily when they are biting, licking or chewing themselves. Another way to get tapeworms is from eating rabbits, rodents, ect.

What are the signs of a tapeworm infestation?
The most common sign an animal has a tapeworm infestation is that the owner will see a segment stuck to the tail near the anus or in the stool. The segments look like pieces of dried rice or cucumber seeds. If an animal does have a heavy burden of tapeworms you may see diarrhea, food absorbing problems and scooting.

What is the treatment?
An animal with tapeworms is given an oral dewormer. We can decide which dewormer is right for your pet. We may want to treat your pet twice. If your pet has gotten tapeworms from fleas, we will want to treat for the fleas also.

Can humans get tapeworms?
Humans do not generally get the two most common dog and cat tapeworms unless there is an accidental ingestion of a flea, which can cause some stomach cramping. The tapeworm that has the most zoonotic risk is carried by wolves and foxes.

 

Giardia

What is it?
Giardia is a singe celled protozoan parasite. Once this parasite is ingested, it attaches to the wall of the small intestine and multiplies. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time.

How do dogs and cats get giardia?
A dog or cat can be infected with giardia when it is accidentally swallowed. The most common way to get giardia is by drinking infected water. It may also be found in soil, food and other surfaces that have been contaminated with feces from contaminated animals.

What are the signs of giardia?
Lack of energy, weight loss in spite of a healthy appetite, occasional to severe vomiting, and/or recurring diarrhea may all be symptoms of giardia.

What is the treatment?
Clean your yard of all feces daily during the treatment period and regularly after that. If a kennel or dog run are contaminated, wash them down with bleach solution - 4 ounces of liquid bleach per gallon of water. This should be done without fail every day during the treatment period. It can be very difficult to guard your pet against giardia. Frequently, more than one course of therapy is needed.

Can humans get giardia?
Yes, humans can definitely get giardia. Humans can get giardia from drinking contaminated water such as water from lakes, rivers, ponds... The symptoms for giardia for humans are diarrhea, loose or watery stools, stomach cramps, and upset stomach. These symptoms may lead to weight loss and dehydration. Symptoms usually begin within 1-2 weeks after infection and can last for 2-6 weeks or even longer.

 

Coccidia

What is it?
Coccidia are smaller protozoans (one celled organims) that multiply in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats. It is most common in kittens and puppies less than 6 months of age, in adult animals whose immune system is supressed or in animals who are stressed in other ways (change of ownership, other disease present). As a puppy or kitten ages it tends to develop a natural immunity to the effects of coccidia. Adult's may carry coccidia in their intestines and shed the cysts in the feces, but experience no ill effects.

How do dogs and cats get coccidia?

A puppy or kitten is not born with the coccidia organisims in it's intestine. However, once born the puppy or kitten is frequently exposed to it's mother's feces and if the mother is shedding the infective cysts in her feces, then the young animals will likely ingest them and coccidia will develop within their intestines. Since young puppies and kittens have no immunity to coccidia, the organisms reproduce in great numbers. Oftentimes this has severe effects.

What are the signs of coccidia?
The primary sign of coccidosis is diarrhea. The diarrhea may be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, and in some cases, die.

What is the treatment for coccidia?
Fortunately coccidosis is treatable. We can decide which medication is right for your pet. These medications do not kill the organisms, but they inhibit their reproduction capabilities; elimination of coccidia is not a rapid process.

Can humans get coccidia?
No, humans can not get coccidia.

 


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