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Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

Intestinal parasites are one of the most common causative agents of health disorders in pets. This article provides information about such worms which affect the canine family.
DogAppy Staff
Diseases caused by intestinal parasites demand immediate medical attention, as they are not mild disorders which are usually found in pets. Such ailments cause severe turmoil in a dog's health, and may also cause deaths of adult dogs and puppies. If left untreated at an early stage, these agents may cause other infections in your pet.

There are certain intestinal worms affecting dogs, which can infect humans too. They put small children at a higher risk than adults. They are easily transmittable; if there are other pets at home, they would also require treatment along with the diagnosed dog. Common parasites found in dog intestines are: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, coccidiosis, and giardiasis.

Symptoms
The first indication is severe itching, which normally causes dogs to bite their rear ends repeatedly. This is due to the female worms, eggs, and larvae, that are expelled out of the anus. This causes acute discomfort in pets. These parasites feed on the nutrients ingested by the dog. The pet drastically loses weight, and may develop a bulgy stomach. This appearance may be mistaken to be a sign of being fat and healthy. The reason for swelling of the belly is due to gas produced by these parasites. Small and large-sized worms also maybe noticed in the droppings of the pet. Blood occurrence in the stool is associated with severe indications of intestinal infestation in dogs. Diarrhea, vomiting, poor hair growth, listlessness, and anorexia (a prolonged disorder of eating due to loss of appetite) are some other symptoms.

Prevention and Treatment
Fecal examination every 6 - 12 months is a must. Choose areas for your pet to exercise, which are not usually frequented by other animals. Prevent your dog from coming in contact with rodents like mice, rats, rabbits, etc., to prevent infestation of fleas. Newborn puppies are more vulnerable to be infected than adults. Hence, it is important for female pets to be dewormed before breeding and also after they give birth to young ones. There are specific dewormers available for intestinal parasites. This is usually determined by microscopic fecal examination. It is advisable to consult a vet regarding medicines, as not all dewormers may be effective.

Common Types

Roundworms
They are the most common types of parasites in dogs and cats, especially young ones. They might appear in droppings or vomit of the pets. To prevent further infestation, feces needs to be disposed off immediately. These worms might reappear in the stool after a few days of treatment.

Hookworms
They are also one of the most common parasites in dogs. They are blood suckers and are known to cause acute anemic conditions mostly in young or weak pets. They may be observed in the stools, before and after the administration of dewormers.

Whipworms
They are neither contagious, nor they can be transmitted to humans. Ingesting their eggs causes diseases. Proper sanitation is required to get rid of these parasites. They are sometimes difficult to be diagnosed.

Tapeworms
Accidental ingestion of fleas is commonly responsible for these worms in pets. They may be noticed as tiny segments, that look like grains of rice near the rectum area or in the stool. Avoiding exposure to fleas helps in the prevention against the tapeworms.

Coccidiosis
They are small protozoans that cause infection in puppies mainly due to unhygienic conditions. Pets having low immunity are more susceptible to such kinds of parasites. As puppies age, they tend to develop a natural immunity against coccidiosis. Mostly adult dogs don't suffer from any ill effects caused by these protozoans.

Giardiasis
It is caused by a unicellular protozoa called giardia. It usually infects the small intestines of animals. Humans can also be infected by this parasite by drinking contaminated water. This disease usually does not show any symptoms of dog illness, and it's difficult to diagnose.

Maintaining proper grooming and hygienic conditions help in the prevention of diseases caused by the above intestinal parasites. Adequate care and attention is also required to keep your pet in a good shape.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a professional veterinarian.