Intestinal parasites

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What are intestinal parasites?

It is estimated that half of all indoor cats and a third of all indoor dogs sleep in the bed with their human companions.  This is an important fact to consider.  Dogs and cats are susceptible to many species of intestinal parasites, including whipworms, roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.  Each of these can cause disease in your pets, but they can be harbored in low levels without showing signs of infection.

Types of intestinal parasites

Roundworms and hookworms are contagious parasites which are of particular risk to humans.  These parasites like to live in the intestines of our pets and lay eggs which are excreted in the feces.  At low levels pets may not show symptoms of infection, which often includes vomiting and diarrhea.

Roundworm eggs, if ingested by a human, develop into larvae which can migrate either into the eyes or into the liver and other organs.  If the eyes are affected, damage can occur to the retina and cause vision loss.  Symptoms of organ infiltration can be coughing, wheezing, abdominal pain, fever and lethargy.

Hookworm larvae can be either ingested or they can migrate through human skin.  If ingested, common symptoms may include diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, or lethargy.  If the larvae migrate through the skin, a rash is usually noted. To keep you and your pet parasite free, we recommend annual fecal exams to check your pet for intestinal parasites.  We also recommend keeping your pet on a monthly parasite preventative such as Trifexis for dogs and Revolution for cats.

Dr. Rodger Clark

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