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Cherokee Animal Clinic
P O Box 416
665 Johnson Street
Rusk, TX 75785
Clinic Hours:
Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 5:30 pm

By Linda March - College of Veterinary Medicine

You are armed and ready; leash and collar in place on your dog, and "baggy" in hand, out you go to collect a fecal sample.

If you feel awkward about bringing a stool sample to your veterinarian, you are probably not alone, but it is nevertheless a very important tool for detecting internal parasites. By identifying microscopic eggs in the feces, the veterinarian can choose a proper treatment for the parasite infecting your animal.

One of the most commonly seen intestinal parasites in dogs is Roundworms (Toxocara canis), according to Dr. Allan Paul, small animal Extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana. "Puppies can be born with them; they get the parasite while still in their mother's uterus," he says. "They can also get roundworm through mother's milk, ingesting contaminated feces, or by eating a transport host, such as a rodent that has been infected with roundworms.".

Adult dogs with roundworms do not usually show any signs. If they do, it is generally vomiting or diarrhea. Puppies will have a rough hair coat and a "pot belly". They may also have diarrhea and vomiting episodes.

Cats may also become infected with roundworms and show similar signs of vomiting and diarrhea.

Hookworms (Ancylostoma, Uncinaria spp.) are another common pet invader. These worms penetrate through an animal's skin, are ingested in the larval form, or are passed through the mother's placenta or milk. Hookworms are blood feeders. They attach to the animal's small intestine and leave bleeding sores. Therefore, hookworms may cause anemia and black feces in your pet. "They can cause enough damage to be lethal in puppies," notes Dr. Paul.

There are two common types of Tapeworm in pets. One type, Dipylidium caninum is spread when a pet ingests fleas. The other type, Taenia, is spread when the animal eats an infected rodent or rabbit. Both types of tapeworms produce segments that pass out of the animal's rectum. When dry, the Dipylidium caninum segments look like "cucumber seeds", and the Taenia segments look like "rice grains." These egg packets may be seen on the pet's anal area and in their bedding. Though tapeworms don't cause physical damage like hookworms, they do with the pet for the nutritional value of its food, causing an unthrifty appearance and rough hair coat.

Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) is a worm that attaches to the large intestine or cecum (a blind sack where the small and large intestine join). This worm may cause chronic diarrhea with red blood in the stool, anemia and a general unfit appearance in dogs. It does not infect cats.

Since many intestinal parasites may be transmitted by oral-fecal contact, sanitation is a key part of control. Keep your pet's living quarters as free of feces as possible to reduce the chances of infection.

Dirofilaria immitis, commonly known as Heartworm, is a potentially lethal internal parasite in pets. "It usually infects dogs, but has also been found in cats," notes Dr. Paul. Mosquitoes infect pets by biting them. The larval form of the heartworm migrates in the pet's body for about six months and finally stops in the heart when the worm becomes an adult. Your veterinarian must draw a blood sample and test it to detect the presence of heartworm.

The animal usually doesn't show signs of infection until late in the disease process. It may develop a dry, nonproductive cough and tire easily even if only given light exercise. You can see more of this potential killer on our Canine Heartworm page.

There are monthly or daily medications available for heartworm prevention. You and your veterinarian can decide which one best fits your lifestyle.

Treatment of heartworm disease is available, but it is risky.

Heartworm testing needs to be done annually, preferably before mosquito season in your area. Intestinal parasites can be screened for by bringing in a stool sample at the same time. Some parasites are harder to kill and may require repeated treatment.

Any time your pet develops a rough hair coat, an unthrifty appearance, diarrhea, if you see segments, or it begins to vomit, call us for an appointment.

Call us for a program to keep your pet 'Worm Free'!!

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