TrueCare_iStock_000083778119_LargePreventing and treating intestinal parasites in pets is extremely important to maintaining their health and wellness. Animals are more prone than people to intestinal parasites because they engage in different activities. They spend more time close to the ground, groom themselves by licking, ingest rodents and the like, and sometimes even like to eat things we would never dream of eating.

Mounting a good defense against these creepy crawlies is an essential part of good pet care. It is vital that pet owners understand the risks of intestinal parasites and how to prevent them.

The (Un)Wanted List

There are a few common offenders that all pet owners need to be aware of. Some of the more common intestinal parasites that affect our pets include:

Roundworms – Roundworms look a lot like white spaghetti when they are mature and are an extremely common parasite. We often find them in puppies and kittens. Some pets with roundworms may experience vomiting or diarrhea.

Hookworms – Hookworms are also not uncommon, but we usually don’t see them with our naked eyes. These intestinal parasites must be detected on microscopic evaluation of the feces. They like to hook onto the insides of the small intestines, feeding on blood.

Whipworms – Whipworms are also microscopic parasites that like to cause diarrhea. They are difficult to eliminate from a pet’s environment and are harder to treat than some other parasites.

Tapeworms – Tapeworms are often identified as small, rice-like segments attached to the fur around the rectum and sometimes in the stool. These are little parts of a larger tapeworm that lives in the pet’s intestine. Pets can acquire a tapeworm from fleas or ingesting other organisms such as small rodents.

Coccidia – These microscopic parasites are not a worm, but a single celled organism that can cause diarrhea, often with blood, and/or vomiting.

Giardia – Giardia is another single celled organism that lives in a pet’s intestine. This bacterium is often transmitted through contaminated water and may cause chronic diarrhea.

Risks of Intestinal Parasites in Pets

Besides being just plain gross, there several reasons to want to be sure that your pet does not have parasites. Pets who are infected with intestinal parasites may:

  • Have trouble gaining/maintaining weight
  • Have a dull or unthrifty hair coat
  • Have chronic digestive problems such as diarrhea or vomiting
  • Be at risk for less common problems caused by parasites including anemia, problems with the lungs or other internal organs, eye problems, or even neurological problems.

Many intestinal parasites in pets are also zoonotic, meaning they are transmissible to people. Having a pet that is infected with a parasite could be a risk to your family, especially anyone who is immunocompromised or young children.

Preventing the Creepy Crawlies

Preventing intestinal parasites in your pets is part of a good wellness care program. True Care Veterinary Hospital is here to help you accomplish this. A parasite prevention program consists of routine fecal examinations and deworming as necessary.

Routine parasite preventatives such as those found in many monthly flea and heartworm preventatives are also an important part of protecting your family, both two and four-legged. We are always happy to help you formulate a personalized parasite prevention strategy for your family’s individual needs, taking your pet’s environment and risks into consideration.