Internal Parasites

What are Internal Parasites in Pets?
Pet owners often need to find treatment for internal parasites. These organisms are difficult to trace and present in numerous environmental sources. However, symptoms can lead to larger complications when parasites reproduce and travel to other organs within the pet’s body or to young children. Hookworms and roundworms are most commonly found in dogs and cats. Young kittens and puppies are the most susceptible, with most of them having acquired the parasites before birth or right after through their mother’s milk. Read on to learn more about various types of internal parasites, including the infection process, symptoms, and preventative measures that can be taken to ensure your pet and family remain parasite-free!
Types of Internal Parasites
The life cycle of roundworms begins when your pet comes into contact with feces that are contaminated with roundworm eggs. If they ingest any of the infected feces or a rodent that has roundworm larvae present in its tissue, this is where the infection takes place. The roundworm eggs hatch in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and penetrate the lining to fully mature. From here, the matured roundworms re-enter the gastrointestinal tract to feed and reproduce. Some of the parasites make their way to your pet’s liver, lungs, and other tissues. Symptoms of infection can include a loss of appetite and dull, rough hair coats. While roundworms often remain dormant, adult female worms can lay thousands of eggs and cause serious damage if passed to your children. If children come into contact with these parasites, symptoms can include fever, liver and lung problems, and loss of vision.
A hookworm’s life cycle begins when your pet comes into contact with it through ingestion or through the skin. The larvae then migrate to the small intestine where they mature in the intestinal lining and suck blood for sustenance. Adult female hookworms can lay 20,000 eggs a day. These are passed into environment in feces, with eggs hatching after they have been excreted from the body. Symptoms of hookworms in your dog or cat includes vomiting, loss of appetite, a distended abdomen, weight loss, and anemia. If passed to people, these parasites can cause severe skin reactions.
Whipworms are rare in cats, and most common in dogs. This life cycle begins when your dog ingests an infected egg in the environment. Once mature, the whipworms attach to the wall of your dog’s large intestine to feed. While there are no noticeable signs in mild infections, large numbers of whipworms can cause diarrhea and weight loss. These parasites are very difficult to control because their eggs are tough to eliminate and persist in the environment for long periods of time. Multiple treatments are needed to eliminate this parasite.
Tapeworms can be found in both dogs and cats and come in different forms. Dipylidium is a type of tapeworm that grows as larvae in your animal’s intestines and passes infected eggs on through the feces. These can often be seen moving in feces of your pet or around its rectum.
Taenia are targeted more towards hunting-animals, as they are acquired through pets ingesting small rodents or other animals that are already infected. These tapeworms can transfer to you and your family and cause harm.
Tapeworms are all easily treated, but it is important to have your animals checked for such infections before disastrous side effects occur.
Visit the Houston Humane Wellness Clinic
Depending on the type of infection, internal parasites can be difficult to detect in your dog or cat. To prevent serious health complications, it is important to schedule regular appointments with a veterinarian to determine whether your pet has parasites or not.
At the Houston Humane Wellness Clinic, fecal testing can be executed to determine if intestinal parasites are present in your animal’s stool, and a treatment plan can be started. If your pet experiences weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, a distended abdomen or other unusual symptoms, please schedule an appointment or give us a call and have our vets properly diagnose and treat your pet today!