SlimDoggy Health Check: Parasites – Worms
Parasites is the topic for today’s SlimDoggy Health Check.
Parasites means, worms and ticks and mites, oh my… Yes, there are many different types of parasites our dogs come into contact with every single day that may impact their health. Here’s a list of the most common:
That’s quite a list isn’t it? We’re going to break it down and cover one category at a time. We’ll start with Worms. As you can see from the list above there are many different types of worms that can infect your dog. Some live in the intestines and some in other tissues. Let’s take a look.
Heartworm. We wrote about our experience with Heartworm (Part 1) and (Part 2) previously and unfortunately we’ve had experience with the other types of worms as well.
Roundworms are very common. They pass from the mother to the puppies which is why puppies should be examined and dewormed. They live in the intestines of the dog feeding off your dog’s food. Symptoms to watch for: vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with bloody mucus), poor appetite, lethargy. You may be also able to see Roundworms in your dogs feces – they look like small pieces of cooked spaghetti. Roundworms can also infect humans and actually be quite dangerous to children, so it is important to treat your dog if they show any symptoms. Diagnosis can be through a stool sample or blood sample and treatment is quite simple with deworming medication. Since the dewormer only kills adult Roundworms, a second treatment is necessary 2-3 weeks after the first. Prevention can be managed by regularly administering deworming medication, but that’s strong meds to administer all the time. Roundworm eggs are found in the feces of infected animals, so keep your dogs away from areas where other dogs eliminate and keep them from ingesting their feces.
Tapeworm may look like little pieces of rice, even though it can actually be quite long as the worm is made up of smaller segments that may break off. You may notice these small rice like segments on the dogs’ feces, around his anus or in their bed. Many dogs live with Tapeworm with no symptoms whatsoever other than these segments. It is easy for humans to become infected by ingesting a flea from an infected dog – which is easier than you might think since they are so small. Keep your dog free from external parasites to prevent a tapeworm infestation. Diagnosis can be made by a stool or blood sample by your vet and treatment with a dewormer is fairly straightforward.
Hookworms are also very common and like tapeworms, they attach to the intestinal wall and feed on blood. They can be quite dangerous to puppies and they may become severely anemic quickly. Other symptoms may include pale gums, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or black tarry stools. They cannot be detected by the naked eye and must be diagnosed through a stool sample or blood sample by your vet. Treatment is straightforward with a deworming regime. Since larvae for hookworms are found in soil, they can be difficult to prevent. Take care to keep your dog’s play areas clean and keep them away from contaminated areas.
Whipworms are similar to Hookworms, small in shape and usually undetectable. They attach to the walls of the cecum (where large intestine meets small intestine) and suck on the blood of the animal. Dogs become infected by swallowing whipworm larvae in soil or other dogs feces. A dog with a mild infestation may exhibit no symptoms, but a more severe infection could cause anemia, bloody diarrhea and even death. Since they are difficult to detect, diagnosis as well as prevention should include annual fecal test for your dog. Treatment is with appropriate deworming medication.
Lungworm is a parasite which attaches to the lungs or windpipe of the dog and can create severe respiratory problems. Dogs may become infected from the saliva or feces of an infected dog or from ingesting the larvae. Symptoms include a persistent cough, shortness of breath and even pneumonia. Diagnosis is made through a physical exam and history, fecal sample and possibly a saliva sample, xrays, or endoscopy. Treatment is with appropriate antiparasitic medication for up to several months and possibly even surgery to remove the nodules created by the Lungworms within the lungs. Prevention is possible by keeping your dog away from contaminated areas.
We will tackle the gastrointestinal and skin parasites in a subsequent posts.