What is it?
• A variety of parasite organisms can live inside the gut of your dog or cat.
• A few of these have no health effect on your animal, but a number of them can cause clinical signs.
• Some of these can potentially infect humans as well.
What causes it?
• Most intestinal parasites are contracted from their environment.
• The particular parasite involved determines the method in which animals are infected.
• Some have a more direct lifestyle in which the larvae of a parasite can immediately infect a new host when consumed, while others are more indirect and need an intermediate host.
• Parasites that don’t seriously affect the health of the animal may cause no clinical signs, such as tapeworm in which the animal may exhibit scooting behaviors.
• Roundworms can cause diarrhea, failure to grow, weight loss, and poor coat condition.
• Hookworms and whipworms may cause intestinal bleeding, diarrhea, and anemia.
What tests are needed?
• Several different tests are recommended given the variety of parasites that exist.
• Many intestinal parasites can be identified in fecal sample testing.
• However, not all samples will contain eggs, therefore different testing methods are available.
How is it treated?
• The type of parasite will determine the drug necessary for treatment.
• Some medications are more generalized, while some target a specific parasite.
What follow up care is needed?
• Repeated fecal testing may be necessary, as well as repeat treatments to control the infestation.
• Keeping an animal’s surroundings (kennel, outdoor play area, bedding, baths) clean will decrease the amount of parasites in the environment.
• It is common for animals to become infected with the same parasite again.
• You can speak with your veterinarian about preventative measures appropriate for your climate and area.