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Parasites (Worms) in Your Pets – What Do You Know About Them?
Did you know that we can catch our pets’ parasites?
Worms! Yuck! De-worming our cats and dogs and making sure they stay “clean” is very important to them and to us. I’ll explain about the different kinds of internal parasites our “Best Friends” can get and how they get them. I’ll talk about some different drugs to cure the infestation. But your veterinarian may have a different treatment he/she likes to use so go with what your vet recommends.
Every new puppy or kitten should be checked for intestinal parasites. Every new dog or cat you adopt should also be checked. This is very simple to do. Just take a sample into your vet and let them check for eggs. Even if you see the worm in the feces (poop) you should still have the stool (poop) checked because there could be multiple kinds of worms present and some do require a different drug than another to rid the system.
Just take about a teaspoon full to the vet’s office. I see every day these big piles of stinky poop come in and let me tell you it’s not much fun to have to handle this stuff. The more the stinkier. Talk about yuck.The sample should be as fresh as possible. Less than 24 hours old. If you need to keep it a few hours before you can take it in you should put in the refrigerator. Do not freeze the sample. You can put it in a plastic sandwich bag, pill bottle, jar or whatever you come up with. The container should be clean. And please always wash your hands with soap and water. You sure don’t want to get these things.
Normally a technician at the clinic will run the sample and check it for eggs. (This part is very cool. I really like using the microscope.) Eggs cannot be seen with the naked eye like some worms can. A microscope must be used. If eggs are found the technician will determine what ones they are and you will be notified as to what your pet has and given the appropriate drugs. Once you have establish an account with that pet and the doctor has seen it, in most cases at least once a year you should be able to just drop off the sample for them to examinem. The animal shouldn’t have to be present. But keep in mind that each office may be different so check with them to make sure this is OK for you to do.
General guidelines for canines
- Treat every 2 weeks between 2 weeks and 3 months of age.
- Once a month from 3 to 6 months of age.
- Four times a year after 6 months of age.
- Treat regularly (considering potential exposure to parasites)
- Continued monitoring of parasite prevalence in your area is recommended.
Pregnant and Lactating Dogs.
- Treat concurrently with puppies.
Newly Acquired Puppies or Dogs
- Treat immediately, then repeat after 2 weeks and follow guidelines for puppies and adults.
General guidelines for felines
Treat every 2 weeks between 3 and 9 weeks of age, then once a month until 6 months of age.
Repeat treatment at recommended intervals.
- Treat regularly (consider potential exposure to parasites.
- Continued monitoring of parasite prevalence in your area is recommended.
Pregnant and Lactating Cats
- Treat concurrently with kittens.
Newly Acquired Kittens and Cats
- Treat immediately, then repeat after 2 weeks and follow guidelines for kittens and adults.
Some risks and signs to look for.
If your pet should acquire some parasites you should know what some of the signs are and the risk involved. There could be blood loss, malnutrition, diarrhea perhaps bloody, dehydration, weight loss and yes, even death. The animal could have dry hair and a general appearance of poor health. Many times you wont even notice the infestation until it has really taken hold. It is possible for the worm eggs or larvae to lay dormant in the animals body and become active in times of stress or perhaps pregnancy. The puppies or kittens will then be born with the parasites. Parasite eggs are shed by the animal and others in the household animals or humans can catch them. Accidental ingestion of the eggs is all it takes. Most intestinal parasites multiply very very fast. A single egg can become a fast growing problem.
Some safeguards for you and your pets.
- Always wash your hands after handling feces even after handling your pet.
- Have a fecal screening done by your veterinarian twice a year. Some pets will require more depending on the pet’s lifestyle and risk factors. Your vet will help you with this.
- Pick up the animals waste in the yard at least 2-3 times a week although it would be best to pick up every day if possible. Wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them. You’d be surprised what could be on these.
- Keep your pet flea free. Ingestion of infected fleas causes tapeworms in both animals and people.
- Keep the kids from going barefoot or sitting/laying on the ground where the animals may have gone potty.
- Clean cat litter boxes daily and wash your hands.
- Avoid kissing your pet or letting it lick your face. Even licking your hands can put you in danger of contacting worms as you then put your hand up to your face and by your mouth and presto, in goes an egg. That’s it. You now have worms at least one kind and that’s one kind to many for me.
Don’t let me scare you. It’s really not quite that simple, but possible. Most zoonotic parasites are transmitted from a contaminated environment, not from normal contact with your pet.
Intestinal Parasites. A description and cure.
These intestinal parasites can cause damage to internal organs, Pneumonia and blindness. There is a large number of puppies and kittens born with roundworms. This could be deadly if left untreated. The puppies could have larvae in their tissues. If the mother had roundworms the baby’s have them. Even if the birth took place before the mother was infected with roundworms she can pass them off to her young in her milk. The larvae make their way to the intestinal tract where they then live and lay eggs. The eggs the adult worms pass in the stool now re-infest the same puppy or kitten or other dogs and cats if the stool with eggs in it are ingested. The eggs hatch and the larvae migrate to the lungs. If the mother has larvae that is dormant it can activate during the last stages of pregnancy and infest her babies. Worming the mother at this time has no effect on the larvae in the body tissues and does not prevent the worms from infecting the newborn. Almost all wormer’s work only on the adult parasite in the intestinal tract only. Puppies or kittens with roundworms often have a pot-bellied stomach. You may see some worms in the vomit or stool. A roundworm can reach a length of 5 inches. A liquid drug called Pyrantel is easy to use, taste good to most pets and works well for roundworms. There are other drugs out that work well also. Signs of roundworms: Diarrhea, Vomiting, Loss of appetite, Weakness, Weight loss, Difficulty breathing, dull scruffy coat, swollen abdomen (pot belly), Adult worms visible in feces.
This intestinal parasite can cause red, itchy skin rashes (commonly referred to as “creeping eruption”), severe stomachaches and nausea. The hook worm is a small thin worm that attaches its self to the walls of the intestine and sucks blood. Pets can get hookworms from contact with the larvae in the stool or contaminated soil. From ingesting the eggs after birth and nursing on an infected mother can also transfer hookworms. Hookworms infestation can kill a puppy. Often times making it severely anemic from the loss of blood from the hookworms meal. Often the signs of hookworm infestation would be dark or bloody diarrhea, weight loss, anemia pale gums and progressive weakness. Once again as with rounds the liquid Pyrantel would be good for hooks but there are other drugs on the market that will work well.
Dogs are seen with whipworms more often than cats but cats are still susceptible. Adult whipworms are seldom seen in the stool. But if you do see them they look like tiny pieces of thread with one end enlarged. Whipworms live in the “cecum”. That’s the first section of the animal’s large intestine. The whipworm sheds few eggs so it is difficult to diagnose even under the microscope if no eggs have been shed. If your pet has presented weight loss and passes stool that seems to have covering of mucous especially the last portion of the stool, lives in a kennel environment or an area ware whips are prevalent it may be whipworms. Your veterinarian my prescribe medication based on the circumstantial evidence. Two good medications for whips would be Drontal or Panacur.
Both dogs and cats get infested with tapes by ingesting fleas. Our pets eat wildlife or rodents infested with tapeworms or fleas and then become infected. You will rarely see the entire worm only segments of the worm. They are normally found in the feces or hair around the tail of the animal. The entire worm can be quite long, 4 to 6 inches with up to 90 segments. Ask your veterinarian if they have one in a jar if you want to see the whole worm. It’s really quite interesting. Anyway the part you would be most likely to see is just a segment and looks very similar to a grain of rice. The segments contain the eggs. Tapeworms cannot be eradicated by the typical over the counter wormer’s. Get the good stuff from your veterinarian. Drontal is a great medication. Panacur works for one of the two kinds of tapeworms. Hum, wonder which one my pet could have.
This is a single celled organisms. Giardia is commonly found in the intestines of animals. This parasite clings to the surface of the intestine or floats in the mucous lining of the intestine. Some times when are pet carry giardia they do not show any signs of disease. The signs that giardia are present: diarrhea, bloody or mucousy stool and many time bad gas will be apparent. Some other signs are weight loss, listlessness poor appetite. Some low grade giardia infestations may flare up if the animal has health issues or stressed nutritionally.
Giardia occur in two forms. One being the swimming form, feeding stage that live in the intestine. The other being a cyst stage that is passed in the stool. The cyst can live outside of the host for a long time as long as there is enough moisture. Animals ingest the cysts thus becoming infected. Giardia reproduce by cell division.
Animals pass on giardia through ingesting cysts from contaminated feed or drinking water. These giardia cyst are found in streams and other water sources.
Humans can also get giardia. Studies are still being done on whether our pets can transmit this to us. For the meantime we should assume it is possible and take precaution.
Detection of giardia can be tricky as the cysts are only passed periodically. Several fecal examinations may be necessary to diagnoses this parasite. It is a good idea to to at least 3 fecal exams in a seven to ten day period.
To treat giardia there are typically two drugs recommended. Metronidazole or quinacrine.
These are single celled organisms that infect the intestine. They can be detected on a routine fecal exam. Coccidia are not worms and they are not visible to the naked eye. This infection causes a watery diarrhea which can be sometime bloody and can be a life threatening problem especially to young or small pets due to fluid loss and dehydration.
Coccidia are passed in the stool. Our pets ingest them and thus become infected. Coccidia is found in fecal contaminated ground. They are swallowed when your pet grooms and licks itself. Mice can also consume coccidia so when our pets eat a mouse they can become infected. Animals that our housed in groups such as shelters, rescue areas, kennels, etc are common in having coccidia. If your pet has diarrhea it is a good idea to have a fecal ran. Keep in mind though small numbers of coccidia can be hard to detect. For this reason the fecal test could come back negative. This does not mean that the pet is not infected. Several fecal test may be necessary.
There isn’t any medicine that will kill coccidia. Only the patient’s immune system can do that. We can however give medications called “coccidiostats” which inhibit coccidial reproduction. Once the coccidia stop expanding it is then easier for the pets immune system to do the rest and wipe out the infection. If the animal is highly infected it will take longer to clear up than a light infection. Typically it should take one or two weeks for medication to clear this up. Keep the animal on the medicine until the diarrhea has stopped plus a extra couple of days. A bad case could take up to a month to treat.
Albon is one medication that treats coccidia. The use of sulfa drugs in pregnant animals can cause birth defects. False positive test results for urine glucose can also arise.
Just some trivia you might be interested in.
Quoted from Bayer Health care LLC. Animal Division.
One female roundworm can lay up to 1000,000 eggs in a day. A hookworm up to 20,000 eggs per day. Wow. That’s some massive egg laying. You can’t see them though without a microscope.
In just one week, two puppies infected with roundworms can shed more than 20 million eggs and contaminate a 2,800 square foot backyard.
Certain kinds of parasite eggs can survive in the soil for years.
A nationwide study revealed more than 1 out of 3 untreated dogs were infected by roundworms and/or hookworms and /or whipworms.
Almost all puppies less than 3 months old are infected with roundworms.
In a survey of veterinarians who treated cats, 43% of respondents reported seeing tapeworms frequently to often and 26% reported the same for roundworm infections.
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