Dog Parasites – Not a fun topic!
I want to discuss dog parasites which are not a fun topic for either us nor our dogs. But unfortunately, this does occur more than people realize and in some cases can actually be fatal for the animal.
Dog Parasites – Why My Dog
Our dogs, when infected with intestinal parasites, will most normally exhibit no symptoms or subtle symptoms that can be easily overlooked.
The best way to ensure that your dog is parasite-free is by taking him/her to the veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up your veterinarian will examine your dog and perform fecal testing called a float test which will determine if there are any parasites present in the sample.
This means that the best time to get a sample to take to the veterinarian’s office with you is the morning of the appointment for the testing making sure to get a sample of each dog if you have more than one.
You might ask why you would need a sample from all your dogs but if one dog is infected with parasites they will easily transfer them to your other dogs in a drinking bowl or food bowl, even while playing thru the saliva. The most common way of transfer is one of the other dogs possibly stepping in their fecal deposits this is a sure way of the infestation transfer.
So exactly how do our dogs end up with these parasites? Good question and one that is easily answered parasites are a common and important cause of disease in dogs.
Parasites are transmitted in two ways one when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. Or secondly through the pads on their paws in highly contaminated soil.
In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea or if they roam a dead animal which can have many insects already present that the dog is then ingesting with the meat.
Puppies when they are born drink milk from their mothers and usually have what is called roundworms and why they need to be wormed before going to their new home, especially if other dogs are in the new home.
This is very important if you do not want to infest your whole household with the roundworms. (People can get this type of worm from dogs and then will require medication to remove them from their system.)
Prior to the age of modern medicine, the old-timers would feed puppies and the mother a copper penny to rid them of the roundworms today’s copper pennies do not work in the same manner so this is not advisable to give your pet today!
Common Dog of Parasites
When you take the fecal sample to your veterinarian and they perform the test on it they will be able to tell what type of parasite your dog has listed below are the ones most common in my area:
Roundworms – The adult roundworms live in the affected dog’s intestines, many dogs do not have signs of infection, however, dogs with major roundworm infections, especially, in puppies show diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, dull hair, and a potbellied appearance. You may notice the adult roundworms in your dog’s feces or vomit which look like spaghetti.
Hookworms – These are similar roundworms, hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive system of your dog (or any animal). The hookworm attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall and feeds on your dog’s blood, its eggs are ejected into the digestive tract and pass into the environment through your dog’s feces. Symptoms your dog can exhibit with hookworms would possibly be diarrhea, perhaps with blood, failure to gain weight or weight loss, loss of appetite, anemia (pale gums, weakness), which is life-threatening for puppies, and coughing, due to the larval migration through the lungs (with very heavy infections).
Whipworms – these are intestinal parasites that are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long, they live in the cecum and colon (large intestine) of dogs where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. The whipworm infection results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. Symptoms are dehydration, anemia, and weight loss. This is another parasite that can be transferred to humans so it is always best to make sure you have your pet veterinarian checked yearly.
Tapeworms – There are different kinds of tapeworms, but the most common one is caused by swallowing a tiny infected flea. Fleas can carry the tapeworm’s larvae or babies if your dog swallows it — maybe while grooming himself — an adult tapeworm can grow inside your dog’s intestines. Your dog can also eat dead animals if they roam which is another way of them ingesting an insect that would have the tapeworm’s larvae or babies. Watching your dog at all times when outdoors is very important whether in the city or in the country roadkill is a perfect candidate for them to get into. Symptoms of tapeworm are weight loss even when eating normally, lethargy, distended abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, and dull coat. The majority of dogs with tapeworms show no signs of illness or infection and if the heads are not destroyed, the tapeworms can regenerate.
How to Rid My Dog of Parasites
Should you suspect that your dog has one of these parasites and it is not the time for their yearly check-up then a quick call to the office to ask when you can bring in a sample to determine if and what type of parasite they have is all that is required.
Once you take the fecal sample in the veterinarian will be able to advise you and prescribe the proper medication for your dog or dogs because if you have more than one the others will need the medication as well just to be safe.
Roundworm medications prescribed by your veterinarian should be followed to exact directions they do not kill the larvae so you will need to kill these as they hatch preventing more infestation normally medications are pyrantel, milbemycin, fenbendazole, and moxidectin. Humans can contract roundworms from their dogs by coming in contact with heavily infected areas in the soil where the dog goes most of the time.
Hookworm medications prescribed by your veterinarian normally are: fenbendazole, moxidectin, and pyrantel are approved for treatment. Humans can become infected with hookworms so precautions should be taken when treating your pet with this parasite.
Whipworm medications prescribed by your veterinarian are febantel, fenbendazole, milbemycin, moxidectin, andoxantel. Following the medication directions will ensure that you kill the parasites and any larvae that are left – and humans are not susceptible to this parasite so make sure to take care of your pet.
Tapeworm the most common medication used is Praziquantel to rid your pet of the tapeworm including the head, along with this the veterinarian might suggest using a flea control to stop future infestation occurrence. You cannot contract a tapeworm from your dog for people to get a tapeworm you must ingest a host with the larvae inside.
Previously I stated this is not a fun topic but pet owners need to know that dogs do get parasites and which ones can actually be transferred to humans is some of the best knowledge especially if you have children.
Most pet owners I know are very dedicated to their animals and make sure they are at that yearly veterinarian check-up but in the event a pet shows signs during the time in between knowing a quick run with a fecal sample is quick and ensures you that your pet is either infected or not and then can be treated quickly.
Should you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would appreciate you leaving them in the space provided below.
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