Pet Intestinal Parasites: What You Need to Know
Pet intestinal parasites are actually relatively common. Puppies and kittens both are more often than not born with worms contracted from their mother. That’s why so many new pets go through deworming treatments as part of their preventative treatment plans that also include vaccines and wellness exams. But what are these mysterious ‘worms’ and what harm do they actually cause? We’ll take a look at a few of the most common ones and talk about what they are and how we treat them.
While not necessarily intestinal, heartworms begin in the heart and spread elsewhere. They are contracted by infected mosquitos and trust us, prevention is much less expensive than treatment. Many dogs do not even show any symptoms until the heartworms are well established and at that point, he’ll require more invasive and expensive treatment. Preventive heartworm medication is ideal!
Coccidia infection is most common in puppies and kittens but older pets can get it as well. It’s contracted from the consumption of infected feces or soil. Your vet can test your pet for coccidia with a simple fecal test. If the parasite is present, we can provide effective, safe treatment with medication.
Giardia is a single-celled parasite that can be spread when your dog drinks infected water. The best prevention is to always make sure your pet has clean, fresh drinking water. If your dog does have giardia present in his stool, treatment involves medication until the parasite is eliminated.
Hookworms are an intestinal parasite that can affect both your dog and cat. It attaches to the intestinal walls and feeds on your pet’s blood, which can be serious in young puppies and kittens who many not be able to handle the blood loss. Unfortunately, hookworms are a common problem for young puppies and kittens, and so deworming is usually a part of their early wellness treatments.
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite found in dogs. Almost all dogs will have roundworms at some point—most of them as puppies. Deworming treatments as young puppies will address the issue, and regular testing ensures they do not reoccur. The most important form of prevention is removing your pet’s feces on a regular basis from your yard or dog run.
Tapeworms are typically spread by fleas, as fleas are an intermediate host for the larvae. However, other species of the parasite exist and can infect your pet from other sources such as small mammals or even deer and sheep. The difficult thing about tapeworms is they cause no major illness or weight loss, so diagnosis can be difficult to make. In order to prevent tapeworms, flea prevention is an important step to take.
Whipworms are another common parasite found in dogs, and mild cases often do not have any serious symptoms. It’s therefore important for your pet to be tested by the veterinarian regularly. Treatments are generally simple and effective and save your pet from developing a more serious infestation.