Deworming. What you need to know!

In previous posts l was informing you that when you come for a vet check-up you can ask the receptionist if you need to bring in a stool sample.

Did you ever wonder why? Yup, you guessed it! We are checking for parasites (worms) in your pet`s poop. It is very common for young animals to have worms, so do not panic!


Why Should We Check a Stool Sample?

Early diagnosis is vital for the well-being of your loved ones. You just have to provide us with a stool sample (no more than a teaspoonful needed) and we will mix the sample with a special solution which actually makes the microscopic eggs more visible.

Note that tapeworm eggs do NOT show up very well in routine fecal analyses. Some samples can be false-negatives due to the fact that parasites inconsistently lay small numbers of eggs.

You just have to tell us if you spotted any rice-like segments in your pet`s stool or if you saw any of them on the fur under the tail. This can be very helpful for us, veterinarians.


What Are The Signs of a Dog Having Worms

Some symptoms of worms are:

• Diarrhea or loose stools;

• Weight loss and a distended stomach;

• Dry hair and overall poor appearance;

• Vomiting. Sometimes you can see worms in the vomitus;

The severity of symptoms dependent on the type of worm and how heavy the infestation is.


What Are The Signs of a Cat Having Worms

Some symptoms of worms are:

• Diarrhea or loose stools alternating with constipation;

• Weight loss and a distended stomach;

• Strong abdominal distension;

• Coarse fur;

• Unusual behaviour, e.g. lethargy (a lack of energy or less interest in things that usually excite them) or dragging themselves along the carpet (strong symptom of cat worms because worms are irritating them);

• Rejection of food or increase of appetite;

• Vomiting.Sometimes you can see worms in the vomitus;

The severity of symptoms dependent on the type of worm and how heavy the infestation is.


Where Do Pets Get Worms And Other Parasites From?

The most common way pets get worms are:

Eating contaminated soil. Your pet can pick up the parasite eggs or larvae from the ground onto his/her paws or even by eating dirt.

Eating contaminated produce. The pet can be infested through ingestion of contaminated, uncooked or otherwise prepared fresh produce.

Hunting rodents. In some cases, outdoor cats will hunt rodents that have worm larvae living in their tissues.

Licking themselves. After walking on contaminated soil, stepping in poop or even having small contacts with contaminated bodies, your dog may clean their paws by licking them. A good advice is to clean your dog’s paws after leaving the dog park using pet grooming wipes or washing the paws.

Drinking water. Your dog can get parasites from a bowl which was contaminated with the stool of other infected dogs. I highly recommend bringing your own travel water bowl just to be safe. Another parasite transmission medium can be the water from natural contaminated sources (lakes, streams, shallow or poorly maintained wells).

Mother-pup nursing. When puppies are nursed by their mother, they are exposed to the risk of being infested through the mother’s milk. This is why they go through a series of deworming after being born.

Fleas and mosquitoes.

Shelters. Those can be a breeding ground for parasites because they have a lot of stray dogs coming and going. There is a possibility to spread parasite eggs from one to another by simply living together. If you have recently adopted a dog, l recommend you keep an eye on the stool.


The Different Types of Worms in Dogs

Roundworms;

Whipworms;

Hookworms;

Tapeworms;

Ringworm;

Coccidia;

Giardia;

Spirochetes (non-worm parasites).

Roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and hookworms are the four common types of intestinal worms found in dogs.Cats can get infected by tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. They get tapeworms by ingesting fleas infected with tapeworm eggs or by eating infected rodents.Other kinds of parasites include Giardia and Coccidia.

1. Roundworms

The majority of puppies and kittens are born with microscopic roundworm or ascaris larvae in their tissue.

How do they get them?

The larvae are passed from the mother`s uterus to the fetus, migrating through the mother`s tissues. Another way is from the mother`s milk (as mentioned above). After this, the larvae make their way to the intestinal tract, where they can grow up to around 12 cm in length.

Adult roundworms start laying eggs in the puppies’/kittens’ intestine tract, acting according to their duties and consuming nutrients that normally should be used by the host.

Parasites eat the nutrients from the partially-processed food that your pet ingests, depriving them of the needed nutrients. Some eggs can pass in the stool and can even infest the other dogs and cats if, in some way, the egg-bearing stool is transmitted through any of the channels highlighted above.

When the eggs hatch, larvae are set free internally, to migrate to the lungs, from where they can be coughed up, then swallowed, and finally grow up into adult forms in the small intestine, only to lay more eggs and multiply again, to start many new life cycles.

In one single day, up to 200,000 eggs can be produced by a single roundworm female parasite. Infestated puppies/kittens often have a pot-bellied appearance and deficient growth. Roundworms can be seen even in vomitus or stool if there is a severe infestation.

Remember that they can cause death by intestinal blockage if they are not treated! Roundworms can also infect adult dogs and cats because the larvae can encyst in the body tissue and can remain latent for long periods of time. If you want to deworm the mother, you should know that encysted larvae cannot be killed because the eggs are protected by a hard shell. Almost all worming treatents work only on the adult parasite.

These worms in dogs are among the most common:

  • Toxocara canis;
  • Toxascaris leonine;

These worms in cats are among the most common:

  • Ascaris;
  • LeoninaToxascaris;
  • Toxocara Cati.

2. Whipworms (Trichuriasis)

This kind of parasite can be found more often in dogs rather than cats. In a stool sample, they look like tiny pieces of thread and one end is enlarged.

The thicker end attaches itself to the intestinal wall when the worms reach maturity. This causes irritation and discomfort throughout the attachment period.

These parasites live mainly in the cecum (first section of the large intestine) section and they are often hard to detect, due to whipworms generally laying fewer eggs than other, similar parasites. This means that even after examinating several stool samples, there still is a chance for the whipworms to not be revealed.

If a dog comes to the vet consultation and presents chronic weight loss and passes stool that looks like covered with mucous (mainly the last portion of stool passed), we may prescribe a whipworm medication based on clinical observations and the presented evidence. Sometimes, this can be hard to diagnose from a veterinarian point of view.


3. Hookworms

Hookworm disease (ancylostomosis) has been classified as four distinct syndromes which vary with the age, route of infection, or overall health status of the animal.

Adult hookworms are typically parasites of the small intestine, adult strongyles are typically parasites of the large intestine, and adult trichostrongyles are typically parasites of the stomach or small intestine.

This kind of parasite can be found more often in dogs rather than cats. These parasites are very small and thin and they catch onto the walls of the small intestine and draw blood.

When a dog has direct contact with soil contaminated from a stool, the larvae migrates to the uterus and infests the fetus, or the pup can ingest the eggs after birth. As with roundworms, the hookworms’ larvae can also be passed on through the mother`s milk.

A severe infestation can cause death to a puppy because they become severely anemic from the loss of blood. Chronic hookworm infestation can also be a cause of illness in older dogs.

Clinical signs can include bloody diarrhea, anemia, weight loss and weakness.

  • Ancylostoma caninum (dog);
  • Ancylostoma braziliense (dog, cat);
  • Uncinaria stenocephala (dog, less common).

4. Tapeworms (Cestodes)

The most common tapeworm species is Dipylidium Caninum. The medical term for a tapeworm infestation is Cestodiasis.

This kind of parasite is transmitted to dogs/cats that ingest fleas or hunt and eat other wildlife animals or even rodents that are infested with tapeworms or fleas.

A tapeworm has a small head at one end and many tiny brick-like repeating segments for the rest of the parasite body. They can reach up to 12 cm in lengh within the intestine and each tapeworm can have up to 90 segments.

The last segments from the chain are the ones that contain parasite eggs and can be found in the stool or even attached to the fur under the animal`s tail (looks like very small grains of rice).

Sometimes we can simply diagnose them by seeing these tiny terminal segments attached around the anus fur area or under/on the tail.

Tapeworms cannot be killed by over-the-counter wormers and it is recommended not to waste time and money on non-prescription medication. This is one of the reasons we ask you to be honest with us and tell us if you purchased any other kind of medication from different other sources rather than a veterinary clinic. We can prescribe a treatment that actually works for your loved one.

5. Ringworms

A ringworm is actually a fungus, not a worm. Because of their still-developing immune system, puppies less than a year old are more susceptible to ringworm infection.

Any system with a low immune system is also predisposed to infection.

An infected dog will develop lesions on his head, ears, paws, and forelimbs. The lesions cause circular bald spots which sometimes look red in the center.

In severe cases, the infection can spread over most of the dog’s body.Treatment depends on the severity of the infection. We would normally prescribe a medicated shampoo or ointment to kill the fungus in mild cases. Severe cases may need oral medications, in addition to clipping the fur.


6. Giardia

Known as Giardia intestinalis, this is a common, microscopic (intestinal) parasite that commonly affects humans, dogs, and cats. Symptoms: diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.

The lifecycle of Giardia is composed of two stages. The mature parasites, or trophozoites, live in the small intestine where they multiply and eventually become cysts. Cysts are the infective stage and are shed by the infested host into their feces. They can survive for several weeks in the environment as cysts, and when they are ingested by an unsuspecting host, they turn into trophozoites and repeat the life cycle. Cysts are resistant forms and are responsible for transmission of giardiasis.


7. Coccidia

Infection with these parasites is known as coccidiosis. Coccidia are single-celled obligate intracellular parasites that live in the wall of your dog’s intestine. They are found more often in puppies, but they can also infect older dogs and cats. The most common sign of coccidiosis is diarrhea.

A dog infected with coccidia cannot pass the infection to cats and vice versa. Coccidial infections in dogs occur only by swallowing the coccidia in soil or dog feces.


8. Spirochetes

Leptospirosis is an infection of bacterial spirochetes, which dogs can gain when subspecies of Leptospira interrogans. They can penetrate the skin and can spread through the bloodstream into the entire body. Leptospira interogans is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals.

Can I Get Worms From My Dog or Cat?

Absolutely yes! Worms are potential health threat for humans too. For example, if a hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin, they can actually cause something known as “cutaneous larva migrans”, through which adults can get in the human intestine.

Ascaris lumbricoides are roundworms which are part of the Nematode class and they can cause ascariasis. Ascaris (roundworms) eggs can cause “visceral larva migrans” if ingested. Humans can get infested from unsafe use of food and water, or lacking hands and oral hygiene.

Children are the most predisposed to this risk especially if they play in areas that have been used by dogs, cats and other wildlife animals.

Toxocara canis (also known as dog roundworm) is a worldwide-distributed parasite of dogs and other canids. A single adult of the parasite Toxicara canis can lay up to 100,000 eggs a day which pass into the dogs’ (or cats’) environment through their stool.

Please take our advice very seriously and keep strict sanitation principles when pets and children are in close contact and proximity.

If your dog has worms and you are afraid he may have passed it on to you, look out for these symptoms (equivalent parasite symptoms in humans):

· Abdominal pain;

· Nausea;

· Fever;

· Blood in your stool;

· Intestinal cramps;

· Loss of appetite;

· Itchy rash.


Prevention

Your loved one should be regularly wormed to prevent them from being infected.

• Remove the faeces from the garden/ litter box very frequently. Wear gloves when cleaning the garden/litter box.

• In some cases, outdoor cats will hunt rodents that have worm larvae living in their tissues. Watch you cat while outside and protect her from going outside the garden.

• Keep strictly to a year-round regimen of flea prevention. This will help prevent and get rid of fleas, which can cause worms to begin with.

• Your dog/cat may also contract worms by swallowing a flea. Some fleas may carry worms, and for this reason, preventing against fleas is also important!

• Always watch where your dog is if he/she goes in the neighborhood.

• Always use the correct deworm medication (wormer) under veterinary supervision. Have a stool sample checked frequently in persistent cases of infestations. If it is needed, then we will prescribe worming treatments on a routine basis for a year.

• Do not mix wormers and do not use any wormer if your dog/cat is already under any other medication (including heartworm prevention) without consulting a veterinarian. It can be very dangerous!

• Even if the prescription wormers are often more expensive than over-the-counter worm medications, keep in mind that correct medication is safer and more effective!


How to Deworm a Dog or Cat

There are different types of deworming treatments and these depend on the type of worm present because not all parasites respond well for the same treatment and there is no single wormer (deworming) treatment that can act against all parasites!

Some non-prescription wormers are quite ineffective and inefficient in eliminating worms from your dog/cat.


Instructions: How to Give a Worming Tablet

When giving a pill to your pet, hunger is your best friend. An easy way is to hide the pill in their food. The hungrier they are, the more likely they are to gulp the food without noticing the pill inside. Some people coat the pill with peanut butter before hiding it which is said to make it more appetizing.


  • Keep in mind that it is the goal of each parasite to stay in the safety of the intestinal tract; if they come out, they’ll die!
  • They don’t want to be detected!

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