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Common Parasites in Dogs; Part 2 Intestinal Parasites

Roundworm
Roundworms are long white/yellow worms resembling spaghetti. The species of roundworm that affect dogs are Toxocara canis and Toxocara leonina. Infection with roundworm can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and unthriftiness. Dogs can become infected with roundworms after consuming eggs (i.e. through normal grooming), consuming a prey animal infected with worms (i.e. a rodent), or by nursing from an infected mother. Infected animals may vomit up worms. Fecal exams can be performed as routine screening and/or if an infection is suspected. There are many appropriate medications available for treating roundworm. Please contact your veterinarian to determine which product is right for you.

Tapeworm
Tapeworms are flat, white/tan, segmented worms. The segments may resemble rice when passed in feces. There are many types of tapeworms, the most common is Dipylidium caninum. Infection with a tapeworm in adults does not usually cause serious health problems. Puppies may experience health problems, including anemia and issues with growth. Tapeworms are transmitted via fleas. The pet must ingest an infected flea (often by grooming) in order to contract this tapeworm. Diagnosis of tapeworm is made by observing white “rice-like” segments in the feces or around the anus. There are many appropriate medications available for treating tapeworm. Please contact your veterinarian to determine which product is right for you.

Hookworm
Hookworms are small worms that live in the small intestines. The two types of hookworms are Ancylostoma and Uncinaria. Infection with hookworms can cause anemia, weight loss, and bloody diarrhea. Dogs can contract hookworm through ingestion, through the skin (larvae can burrow), or through placental or milk transmission. Fecal exams can be performed as routine screening and/or if the infection is suspected. There are many appropriate medications available for treating hookworm. Please contact your veterinarian to determine which product is right for you.

Coccidia
Coccidia is single-celled parasites that infect the intestines. Infection with coccidia can cause watery diarrhea +/- blood. Dogs can contract coccidia through ingestion of oocysts (infective stage) in feces or other contaminated material. It may also be contracted through ingestion of infected prey such as mice, flies, or cockroaches. Fecal exams can be performed as routine screening and/or if the infection is suspected. There are multiple appropriate medications available for treating coccidia. Please contact your veterinarian to determine which product is right for you.

Giardia
Giardia is single-celled parasites that infect the intestines. Infection with giardia can cause acute diarrhea. Dogs can contract giardia through ingestion of cysts (infective stage) in feces or other contaminated material. Fecal exams +/- giardia specific testing can be performed if the infection is suspected. There are multiple appropriate medications available for treating coccidia. Please contact your veterinarian to determine which product is right for you.

Written by: Nicole Mann, DVM

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