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 a fecal sample
• However, not all samples will contain eggs, so 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, 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