Intestinal Parasites In Dogs

intestinal parasites in dogs

A large number of dogs are infected with hookworms, roundworms, whipworms in the United States.  This article explains prevalence, transmission and clinical signs of these common intestinal parasites in dogs.

In the United States, intestinal parasites in dogs are high considering that monthly heartworm preventative contains additives that help prevent and treat these parasites.  These parasites also pose a risk for human infection and regular deworming recommend by your veterinarian should be strictly followed.

Common intestinal parasites in dogs:

Hookworms: 

Adult worms live in the intestinal tract of dogs and cats and feed on blood.  They can live for 4-24 months in the intestines.  The mouth of these worms has a fish hook appearance which is where they get their name.

Prevalence maps of the United States show Oklahoma to have a high infection risk for intestinal parasites in dogs.  Adult hookworms live in the intestinal tract and shed eggs in the feces which then contaminates the environment. 

Transmission:

  • ingestion of the larvae in the environment – feces, grass, and soil
  • larval penetration of the skin
  • ingestion of animals that have hookworm larvae in their tissue
  • ingestion of infected cockroaches
  • infected bitches frequently transmit to their puppies through her milk

Clinical signs:

  • anemia which can be fatal, especially in puppies
  • bloody diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • decreased appetite
  • coughing and pneumonia – part of the hookworm life cycle migrates through the lungs

Roundworms: 

These worms can easily be identified by their size and stout appearance.  The adult worm looks like strands of cooked spaghetti.   Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in dogs.

Prevalence maps of the United States show Oklahoma to be at moderate infection risk for intestinal parasites in dogs.  Adult hookworms live in the intestinal tract and shed eggs in the feces which then contaminates the environment. 

Transmission:

  • ingestion of the larvae in the environment – feces, grass, and soil
  • ingestion of animals that have hookworm larvae in their tissue:  rabbits, birds and many other hosts including earthworms
  • directly from the mother to the pups through the placenta

Clinical signs:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • pot-bellied appearance
  • poor hair coat
  • failure to gain weight

Whipworms: 

These worms are named for their characteristic whip shaped body.   The worm is comprised of a thick handle and a thin filamentous lash.  The lash portion of their body makes up 75% of the worm.  These adult worms can produce more the 2,000 eggs a day and these eggs can live in the environment for years!

Prevalence maps of the United States show Oklahoma to be at moderate infection risk for intestinal parasites in dogs.  Adult hookworms live in the intestinal tract and shed eggs in the feces which then contaminates the environment. 

Transmission:

  • ingestion of the larvae in the environment – feces, grass, and soil

Clinical signs:

  • Many animals infected do not show any symptoms
  • bloody diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • anemia

Control and prevention of intestinal parasites in dogs are important to prevent clinical signs.  Enforce leash laws and encouraging owners to pick up their dog’s feces can protect public areas from contamination.  It’s important to daily remove feces from your yard.  Try to prevent your dog from scavenging or acquiring prey.  Puppies and kittens should be dewormed multiple times as they can be infected from mother’s milk or from the environment.  Monthly heartworm preventatives are great at prevention of most of these common intestinal parasites in dogs.  Ask your veterinarian which product is recommended.

 

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