Intestinal Parasites in Your Pooch
Before we get into the various types of parasites your four-legged friend may have, we must first understand the meaning of the word “parasite”. A parasite is either an animal or a plant that lives within or upon another living organism. There are a number of parasites that can infect a variety of organs or body systems. They can either be external or internal parasites. Some live primarily on the skin such as fleas, in the heart and blood vessels, which are known as heartworms and in the respiratory tract, which are known as lungworms.
In order to diagnose some of the gastrointestinal parasites, the veterinarian will check your dog’s feces for any eggs that are shed by adult worms. Other worms can be visibly seen in your pet’s bowel movements or after he or she vomits.
It may be that your doggie will never be bothered by intestinal parasites. However, owners should be made aware of the different kinds of worms and other parasites that may affect the health of their dog.
Let’s not leave out cats because they, too, are subject to parasites. In fact, both dogs and cats are the favorite nesting places for roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Some of the protozoa that may be lurking inside of your dog are toxoplasma, ameba, coccidia and giardia.
It is vitally important to properly identify what kind of worms your dog is affected by. It is not too easy a task since adult worms sporadically release their eggs. If you can isolate the problem, then you are that much closer to finding a solution.
It is extremely important to bring your dog’s fecal sample to your veterinarian as much as is requested by your vet until your pup reaches his or her first birthday. The fecal sample must be fresh within the first twelve hours of an examination. The samples must be kept cool or refrigerated. The sample must be microscopically examined in order to identify the worm’s eggs. It may be wise to have an annual fecal check for preventive medicine.
After there has been a positive identification of the parasite, treatment may then begin. You must realize that there will be different medication depending upon the kind of worm that is affecting your dog. The proper treatment can be administered by your veterinarian. Some preventive medications are on the market today that will keep parasites at bay.
One kind of worm that is of special concern is the tapeworm. The segments of this worm resemble little pieces of rice. They are one of the parasites that can be seen clinging to the hair that is near to your pet’s tail. If you happen to notice these segments, carefully put them into a small, clean container so you can have them analyzed by your vet. You should also take a stool sample to be tested as well. It may be that several kinds of worms may be involved.
When the proper identification is made, then the proper deworming medication should be administered. With some kinds of intestinal worms, the environment may also have to be treated.
Here are some of the symptoms that may be caused by intestinal parasites:
o A change in appetite
o Diarrhea (may be bloody)
o A coat that is rough and dry
o Weight loss
o A poor appearance overall
Always seek the advice of the veterinarian before you begin to deworm your pet.