Intestinal parasites are parasite that can reside and multiply in a dog’s and cat’s intestinal tract. There are several types of internal parasites (or intestinal worms) that cause problems in dogs. Here is a brief overview of some of the common internal parasites that can infect your dog. These include: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms are the main examples. Intestinal parasites can become a serious problem in young puppies. For adult dogs, parasites are only occasionally life-threatening, and are usually found to be problematic in dogs that are immuno-compromised. Intestinal parasites can be detected having your Veterinarian test your dog’s feces at the vet clinics laboratory .
The roundworm is a common parasite, and can be passed on from dog to dog and dogs to humans (by means of the eggs). Puppies have the highest risk of getting them and becoming sick. Puppies can get roundworms passed down from their mother during pregnancy or from her milk. Microscopic eggs are passed from infected dogs in the feces. These are ingested by sniffing or licking infected feces. They are also spread by other animals such as rodents and birds
Adult hookworms lives in the small intestine of its host. Unlike other worms that float in the intestine and absorb nutrients, hookworms consume blood. They do so by attaching themselves to the walls of the intestine. In severe cases hookworms can cause anemia. Anemia is most commonly seen in puppies. Pale gums, diarrhea, or weakness are common signs of anemia. Adult hookworms do not infect humans; however, the larvae can burrow into human skin and cause itching. Hookworms can be contracted through ingestion of infected feces or animals, as puppies through their mother, or through the dog’s skin as larvae.
The common tapeworm (Dipylidium) of the dog causes few problems, but can result in digestive upsets and stunt development of puppies. It is spread by fleas as the intermediate host. Echinococcus, though not as common, is another type of tapeworm. It is zoonotic, meaning humans can be infected. Dogs can contract Echinococcus from sheep and sometimes from humans. Tapeworms when passed through in feces look similar to a moving grain or rice or sesame seed.
Whipworms are intestinal parasites which live in the cecum and colon of dogs where they can cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. This results in chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. They are one of the most pathogenic worms found in dogs, meaning it can cause infectious diseases. Dogs can contract whipworm by ingesting whipworm egg infected stool from other animals. Whipworms are not infectious to humans.
Intestinal parasites can be identified by regular check-ups by a veterinarian and having your dogs stool tested. Control measures for intestinal parasites that are usually recommended by veterinarians include deworming as puppies and taking preventative medications.
written by Jose Lam