Parasite Prevention

Parasites do not always cause external symptoms, making 

ANNUAL TESTING

and monthly preventative measures imperative.

Indian Head Animal Hospital checks for and treats intestinal parasites which may be harmful to your puppy and you. We will generally de-worm your puppy or kitten initially. Repeat fecal exams are often needed to ensure your pet’s health. These parasites can all potentially cause problems in people also. Good hand washing (especially with the kids) will prevent problems!  More information on deworming>

Heartworms

Heartworm disease is a serious disease in dogs and cats. This parasite is spread though mosquitoes, which after biting an infected dog, can spread the parasite to your dog. The adult worm develops in your dog’s heart & lungs, and will lead to heart disease. Monthly preventative medication is recommended for all dogs, year-round , starting by at least 6 months of age . We will get your puppy started with the right monthly preventative.

Flea & Tick

We have several options for flea & tick prevention for your pet. Most of these products also help control intestinal worms. These include several monthly topical medication and oral options. Your pet should be on a year round preventatives for their entire life.

Roundworms

The most common intestinal parasite. Very commonly found in puppies and kittens, passed from their mothers. Adult worms resemble spaghetti. More serious symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and a pot-bellied appearance.

Hookworms

Also fairly commonly found. Acquired from infected mothers and contaminated environments, adult worms are small, and not readily seen in stool or vomit. Can cause diarrhea and anemia, which can be dangerous in puppies and kittens.

Whipworms

Less commonly seen, but a potentially dangerous parasite. These worms can cause diarrhea with blood, anemia, and severe disease, even in adult dogs. Acquired through contaminated environments. Detecting these worms may require multiple fecal samples.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are long, flat, segmented worms that live in the small intestine. They are acquired when your dog or cat ingests fleas containing tapeworm eggs. These are not often detected on the fecal examination, but rather are detected when the segments are seen around the anus, or on the outside of the stool. These segments resemble a grain of rice. These worms are less harmful to your pet.

Coccidia

These parasites are not worms, but rather protozoa. Contracted though contaminated environments, stools, stress can trigger symptoms. The most common symptom is a watery diarrhea, which may be severe in puppies and kittens. This parasite may be transmitted directly to people also.

Heartworm faqs

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes.  It has an incubation period of 6 to 9 months. It is epidemic in our area.  The adult heartworm looks like spaghetti and lives in the right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonary arteries.

Dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans

By bites from infected mosquitoes.
Very gradually over a period of months and sometimes years.

Recently infected dogs may exhibit no signs of the disease.  Heavily infected dogs may eventually show a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss.  The worms cause inflammation of the blood vessels and can block blood flow leading to pulmonary thrombosis (clots in the lungs) and heart failure. Heartworm disease can also lead to liver or kidney failure causing death.

Heartworm infection is usually detected with a blood test to identify the adult worms.  This blood test can be run in the hospital and results are usually available in 10 minutes.  Baby larvae (Microfilaria) are identified through a different blood test that can be run at the hospital or sent out to the laboratory.

Treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible; it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover.  Adult heartworms in dogs are killed using a drug that is injected into the muscle through a series of treatments. Treatment usually requires hospitalization for 2 – 5 days. When the dog is sent home, exercise should be limited to leash walking for the duration of the recovery period, which can last from one to two months. Re-infection during treatment is prevented by administration of a heartworm preventive.

Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive   There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in dogs, including monthly tablets/chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs (we do not offer the injectable). All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs or the heart and cause disease.

Only in very rare instances.

Roundworm faqs

Also known as Ascarid worms.  These are intestinal worms of dogs and cats.  They are round, white, 2 to 4 inches long and resemble spaghetti.

Dogs, cats, humans, and wild animals.

Roundworms can be spread by consuming infective worm eggs from soil, nursing from an infected mother, in utero and by consuming a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms. 

Symptoms vary from none to mild, including vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal swelling.

Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces or from a description of the worm if it is seen in the stool or vomitus.

Treatment is an oral or topical medication (De-wormer), and the prevention of re-infection.  Many heartworm preventives such as Heartgard Plus and Interceptor treat or control infections with roundworms and are an important addition to a roundworm prevention program.
 
The eggs of roundworms are extremely resistant to environmental conditions and can remain infective in the soil for months to years.   20% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 4 parts of water) should be sprayed or mopped on the area. This should be done on at least a weekly basis. This will not kill the eggs, but will strip off their sticky outer layer and make them easier to remove.  Any feces in yards should be picked up on a daily basis. If soil becomes contaminated, about the only alternative is to remove it and replace it, or turn it over to a depth of 8 to 12 inches.

Transmission to humans is rare.  Young children can develop “visceral larval migrans” (the worm travels to different organs causing disease).  A unique form of this disease is called “ocular larvalmigrans.” Larvae migrate through the eyes and can cause vision loss or even blindness.

Hookworm faqs

These are intestinal worms of dogs and cats.  They are very thin, almost transparent, and ¼ to ½ inch long. The worms are normally not visible to the naked eye.

Dogs, cats, humans, and wild animals.

Hookworms can be spread by consuming worm eggs from soil, nursing from an infected mother, while in utero and by consuming a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms.  These eggs can also penetrate through the skin.

This parasite hooks itself to the intestines and sucks the pet’s blood and nutrients.  Symptoms include pale gums, weakness, and sometimes black, tarry stools. There may be vomiting and diarrhea. Growth in young animals is stunted, and the hair coat may appear dull and dry.

Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces or from a description of the worm if it is seen in the stool.

Treatment is an oral or topical medication (De-wormer), and the prevention of re-infection.  Many heartworm preventives such as Heartgard Plus and Interceptor treat or control infections with hookworms and are an important addition to a prevention program.

Hookworms can live several weeks in cool, moist soil, but die rapidly in freezing or hot, dry conditions. All fecal material should be removed, since organic material will decrease the effectiveness of cleaning solutions. A bleach solution of 3 cups of household bleach to a gallon of cool water should be sprayed or mopped on the area.  Any feces in yards should be picked up on a daily basis. Flaming the surface soil can kill the eggs.  Since mice and other rodents can serve as transport hosts, their control is also important.

Transmission to humans is rare.  Hookworms can cause a skin disease in humans called “cutaneouslarvalmigrans” (the worm travels under the skin causing damage). Infections of the intestines in people can also cause a condition called ‘eosinophilic enteritis”, resulting in abdominal pain.

Whipworm faqs

These are intestinal worms of dogs and cats.  The front portion of the worm is very thin (the whip) and the posterior end is thick (whip handle).  These worms are usually not seen by the naked eye.

Dogs, very rarely cats and humans.

A dog or cat becomes infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with whipworm eggs.

Symptoms vary from none to severe, including vomiting, watery diarrhea, and marked weight loss. 

An infection is diagnosed by finding the eggs in the feces.  Eggs from this parasite pass intermittently, however, so it may be necessary to check multiple fecals before the diagnosis is made.

Treatment is an oral or topical medication (De-wormer), and the prevention of re-infection.  Interceptor (not Heartguard Plus) treats or controls infections with whipworms and is an important addition to a prevention program.

Whipworm eggs are very resistant and can live in soil for years, even resisting freezing. Because of this, animals should be restricted from contaminated areas. There is no effective method for killing whipworm eggs in the soil. The only alternative is to replace the soil with new soil, gravel, and pavement. To prevent exposure, any feces in the yard should be picked up on a daily basis.

Transmission to humans is rare.  There have been reports of people being infected with the dog whipworm.  However, humans are much more often infected with the human whipworm.

Tapeworm FAQS

These are intestinal worms of dogs and cats.  They are short ¼ to ½ inch, flat segments (look like “rice”). 
Dogs and cats. 
Transmission occurs when the pet bites and eats a flea or a small animal like rats or rabbits.
About 3 weeks from ingesting the flea.

In heavy infections, we may notice abdominal discomfort or nervousness in the animal. The animal may vomit. The active segments around the anal area may cause an animal to lick or ‘scoot’ on the floor.

The diagnosis is made by finding the moving segments or dried segments usually near anal area.  The diagnosis can also be made seeing eggs in the feces under the microscope

Treatment is an oral or topical medication (De-wormer).  The most important preventive measures are flea controland lice control. Numerous products are on the market which can be used for this purpose. It is recommended to not only treat the animals but also the environment in an attempt to kill as many flea larvae as possible.

Flea controland lice control is the only way to prevent this parasite. Numerous products (Frontline, Promeris, Advantix, Advantage Multi) are on the market which can be used for this purpose. It is recommended to not only treat the animals but also the environment in an attempt to kill as many flea larvae as possible.

Coccidiosis FAQS

Is a disease caused by a protozoan (single celled organism) parasite that lives in the intestinal tract.
Mostly puppies and kittens, although debilitated adults can also be infected..
Transmission occurs by contact with fecal material containing the organism.

Sometimes this parasite will cause no symptoms at all.  Often animals will present with diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration and decreased appetite.  Severe cases can present with bloody diarrhea.

Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces. 

Treatment varies greatly.  Animals showing no symptoms are not treated because the infection is often self-limiting.  Pets with diarrhea are treated at home with oral medication.

Involves disposal of all stools and cleaning the pet’s living area. Mature eggs are resistant to most cleaning products and they can survive for months to years in the environment.  However, the use of bleach and steam cleaning can be helpful.

Human transmission is uncommon but can occur.

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