Whipworms (Trichuriasis)

Whipworms are small thread-like parasites that embed deep within the lining of the colon (large intestine) and cecum. Trichuris vulpis, the canine whipworm, is a common parasite and is a major cause of diarrhea in the dog. The feline whipworms, Trichuris campanula and Trichuris serrata, are uncommon and usually do not produce any clinical symptoms.

Whipworms infect dogs of all ages. Clinical symptoms often depend upon the number of parasites embedded in the colon and cecum. Symptoms can range from slight diarrhea to massive rectal bleeding. In most dogs, a mucoid-like diarrhea is generally observed.

The diagnosis of whipworm infection is made by observing the characteristic parasite eggs under a microscopic. This test is routinely performed at most veterinary hospitals. A small stool sample is necessary in order to run the test.

Medication is available for the treatment of whipworm infection. Very often, pets need multiple treatments in order to eliminate the parasite. Your veterinarian can discuss the method of treatment that is best suited for your pet.

Whipworm is extremely difficult to eliminate from infected soil. Dogs that have access to these areas often reinfect continuously. A specific treatment protocol is usually required for these dogs.

Tapeworm Infection: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Tapeworms are common parasites that live in the small intestine of dogs, cats and other animals. Dipylidium caninum, the most common tapeworm of dogs and cats, is transmitted by fleas. Dogs and cats become infected with this tapeworm by ingesting fleas (during self grooming and licking)(1). Two other types of tapeworm are also very common. Taenia pisiformis in the dog, and Taenia taeniaeformis in the cat are transmitted by rabbits and rodents (mice, rats squirrels). Dogs and cats become infected after ingesting one of these infected animals (2).

The adult tapeworm consists of a head and a very long body. The body is made up of many segments. Some of the segments (called proglottids) break off and are passed in the feces. The proglottids are cream colored and are often seen attached to fur around the animal’s anus.

The proglottids (segments) of Dipylidium caninum are very mobile and crawl around the animal’s anal area. This produces an itching sensation and causes the animal to “scoot” across the floor.

Tapeworms are diagnosed by identifying the proglottids (segments). These segments are about the size of a grain of rice and are found in the pet’s bedding, attached to the fur around the anus, or in the feces.

Tapeworm infection rarely causes noticeable clinical symptoms. A voracious appetite is sometimes observed as well as a slight decline in body condition.

Medication is available for treating tapeworm infection. The medication kills the adult worm. After successful treatment, segments are no longer seen in the feces.

Flea prevention is an excellent method of controlling Dipylidium caninum infection. Taenia infections are controlled by reducing the pet’s contact with intermediate hosts (rabbits and rodents).

Roundworms in Dogs

These intestinal parasites can often be found in young puppies and kittens. They measure two to six inches in length and look like very thin pieces of spaghetti. Roundworm infections often cause puppies to appear pot-bellied or bloated, anemic, have diarrhea, weight loss and vomit. The puppies are often less lively and do not grow as well as uninfected puppies. Coughing is also an occasional symptom of roundworm infections.

Since the parasites can travel from the mother to the unborn, puppies are often born with roundworms.

Young puppies can also become infected while nursing. (Roundworm larvae are passed in the mother’s milk.) Adult dogs become infected by ingesting material contaminated by feces or by ingesting small rodents. (Rodents are carriers of roundworms.) After hatching in the dog’s intestine, roundworm larva are carried by the bloodstream to the lungs. From the lungs, the larvae crawl up the windpipe and are swallowed. Once the larvae are in the intestine, they grow to adulthood. Coughing occurs when the larvae are in the throat.

Accurate diagnosis of roundworms is important since they can cause serious problems. Puppies can die from severe roundworm infections. A one month old puppy should have his (her) stool examined for roundworms. As a precautionary measure, many veterinarians routinely treat young puppies for roundworm infections.

At the time of puppy vaccinations, stool examinations should be performed. Adult dogs should have a stool sample examined for worms at least twice a year (Spring and the Fall). Anytime a dog has a digestive tract problem, a stool exam can detect or rule out the presence of internal parasites.

A stool examination, performed at a veterinary hospital, not only detects the presence or absence of adult worms, it also detects the presence of worm eggs. The feces are mixed with a special chemical solution, and after several minutes, the solution is examined under a microscope. If worm eggs are seen, the veterinarian, or a trained technician, can identify the specific worm. The appropriate medication is then dispensed in order to eliminate that particular worm.

When bringing a stool specimen to the veterinary hospital, it is best to transport it in a small ,clean glass jar. A fresh specimen is definitely best. An old specimen may no longer contain the parasite or the eggs.

Stool examinations are an inexpensive method of detecting internal parasite infections in dogs. Early detection and accurate treatment will prevent these parasites from causing intestinal disorders. Along with vaccinations and regular check-ups, stool exams are considered part of the routine pet care given to all dogs.

Hookworm Infection

Hookworms are small, thin, intestinal parasites that are common in dogs. The canine (dog) hookworm, Ancylostoma caninum, is a voracious bloodsucker. These worms fasten to the wall of the small intestine and suck blood.

In cats, hookworm infection is caused by the parasite Ancylostoma tubaeforme. The disease is uncommon, and the parasite is not a bloodsucker.

Dogs become infected with hookworms by four routes:

  1. Ingestion of soil contaminated with hookworm larvae and eggs (most common method),
  2. Skin penetration by the hookworm larvae,
  3. Passage of hookworm larvae through the mother’s milk to the young puppy,
  4. Infection of the puppy while in the mother’s uterus.

Young heavily infested puppies generally show severe signs of hookworm infection. Bloody diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, and dehydration are common symptoms. Some animals only develop a slight case of diarrhea, however they appear weak and anemic. Intense blood loss can result in rapid death of young puppies.

Hookworm infection in mature dogs usually goes unnoticed. Diarrhea and weight loss are the most common symptoms. These animals are often the source of infection for puppies.

The diagnosis of hookworm is made by observing the parasite eggs under a microscope. This technique is commonly done at most veterinary hospitals. A small (fresh) stool sample is necessary in order to perform the test.

Animals infected with hookworms should be treated with an appropriate medication. In areas where hookworm is a problem, a regular treatment protocol is recommended. Your veterinarian can recommend a treatment that is specific to your pet.

Public Health – Transmission to Humans

The infectious larvae of some hookworm species can penetrate and wander under the skin, causing a disorder known as “cutaneous larva migrans”. This condition is extremely uncommon. If cutaneous larva migrans is suspected, a physician should be consulted.

Routine Health Exams

Remember the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? That happens to be as true for the health of your pet as it is for any member of your family!

Annual health examinations will help determine the general well being of your pet and identify potential problems. Early detection ensures prompt action that may solve the problem before serious consequences occur and may prevent suffering.

The history…

Your veterinarian will ask you questions about the health history of your pet. Be sure to discuss any unusual behavior with your veterinarian.

Medical records will be consulted if the pet has been a regular patient. Notes will be made on your pet’s diet, water consumption, and on a variety of daily behavior patterns that relate to your pet’s health.

Temperature, pulse, respiration rate, and body weight may be noted and then your veterinarian will begin the physical examination from nose to tail.

A wet or dry nose doesn’t mean good health…

The nose is not the health barometer that some people think it is, but it is a good place to start, Your veterinarian will check your pet’s nose for abnormal discharges, and changes in color, texture, moisture, or shape.

Pet’s ears invite infection…

You’ll probably be asked if your dog or cat has been shaking its head or scratching at its ears. Have you noticed any odor from the ears? Your pets deep, curved ear canals provide protection for the inner ear, but these canals also provide a snug home for parasites, infections, and foreign objects. A visual check will be made.

Eyes: these are the windows to your pet’s state of health…

Many conditions, such as Anemia and jaundice, often are discovered through eye examinations. Often, cataracts are some of the first noticeable symptoms of diabetes. Your veterinarian also may observe the inner structures of the eye. Problems such as glaucoma, retinal defects or local inflammation may be detected. Injuries, ulcers and lacerations of the eye can also be detected.

Your pet will receive an oral exam…

Oral hygiene is extremely important. Your veterinarian will check your pets gums, teeth, tongue, and palate for abnormalities, tumors, and infections. A dental examination is important for detecting gingivitis, periodontal disease, and infected teeth. Teeth cleaning and polishing may be recommended at this time.

Listening to the heart and lungs…

Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs. If any irregularities are noted, additional tests may be necessary. Early heart disease and respiratory problems are often recognized during a routine health exam.

Reproduction

Your pet’s reproductive system will be examined. Your veterinarian will probably explain that spaying or neutering provides many benefits beyond birth control.

Health is sometimes skin deep…

The skin is the body’s largest organ and a good indicator of your pets health. Your veterinarian will examine the condition of the skin and hair as a means of detecting other health problems.

Your pet will be checked for fleas, ticks, other external parasites, tumors, and wounds.

Sense of touch…

Your veterinarian will use hands and fingers to feel the abdomen. This sense of touch will help to assess the condition of internal organs and to detect tumors or other irregularities. The legs and feet of your pet will be checked. The condition of joints, muscles, skin, lymph nodes, and hair also will be noted.

It’s wise to immunize…

Immunizing your pet against disease is one of the best tools of preventive medicine. Dogs can be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus, bordetella, rabies and Lyme disease.

Cats can be immunized against feline panleukopenia (distemper), rabies, feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, chlamydia, feline leukemia and FIP.

Health threats vary from city to city and even in various sections of cities; therefore, your veterinarian can tailor an immunization program for your pet based on local conditions and keep your pet protected with the latest vaccines.

If you have any questions concerning your pets’ health, please do not hesitate to contact us. Remember, your veterinarian and the friendly staff members at your veterinary hospital are your pets’ best friends and your best source of information about your pet.

Testing Dogs for Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease of dogs. It is due to the presence of the adult stage of the parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the dog’s heart. The female worm is 6-14 inches long while the male worm is slightly smaller.

Heartworm disease occurs worldwide. Until the early 1970s, the occurrence of heartworm in the United States was primarily confined to the South and Southeastern regions. Today, it is found almost everywhere in the continental United States and is a major threat to the dog population of Canada.

Heartworm disease is not directly passed from an infected dog to a healthy dog. The disease is spread through an intermediate host, the mosquito. Transmission of heartworm depends upon the mosquito population of an area. About 70 species of mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the disease. The more mosquitoes in an area, the greater the chance of heartworm transmission.

For more information regarding heartworm, Click Here.

Presently, there are two tests for diagnosing heartworm disease in dogs. Both tests require just a small amount of blood and are performed at most veterinary hospitals.

Dogs should be tested once a year for heartworm disease. The heartworm antigen test is the preferred method. In order to perform the test, a small amount of blood is drawn from the dog’s forearm or neck vein. This test detects the presence of the adult heartworm in the pulmonary arteries and / or the dog’s heart. The heartworm antigen test is extremely accurate and is a very reliable method for diagnosing heartworm disease.

The second technique used for diagnosing canine heartworm disease is the microfilaria filtration test. This relatively simple test also requires a small amount of blood. The blood is filtered, stained, then examined under a microscope. If microfilariae are seen, the dog is positive for heartworm. Unfortunately, this test does not have the accuracy of the antigen test.

Heartworm is a serious deadly disease of dogs. All dogs living in a heartworm infected region should be tested (annually) for heartworm.

Heartworm prevention is simple. A once-a-month heartworm tablet is available for the prevention of canine heartworm disease.

The staff at your local veterinary hospital can answer all questions pertaining to heartworm.

Dog Vaccinations

Vaccinating your dog is a simple procedure that is routinely done by all veterinarians. Vaccinations are safe, effective and well worth the financial commitment. Many diseases that were once considered fatal to dogs are now under control due to the use of modern vaccines.

When vaccinations are administered, the body produces substances called antibodies. These antibodies are produced by cells (called lymphocytes) which originate in the bone marrow and multiply in the spleen, thymus and lymph nodes. When the actual disease agent is encountered by the dog’s body, these lymphocytes respond very quickly, producing antibodies that neutralize the disease. This rapid production of antibodies is only possible if the animal had been previously vaccinated.

There is not a general rule regarding vaccinations; however, some basic rules apply to all dog vaccination schedules. At the very least, a minimum of two multivalent vaccines containing Distemper and Parvovirus are given three to four weeks apart to all puppies over three months of age. In most states, Rabies vaccination is also required. Other diseases such as Coronavirus, Bordatella (Canine Cough), and Lyme Disease, require different vaccination protocols.

Young puppies are usually given their first set of vaccinations at six to eight weeks of age. Additional vaccinations are given every three to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Recent evidence shows that Parvovirus vaccination should be continued even longer, especially with certain breeds of dogs. Thereafter, an annual or biannual vaccination is administered.

Animals sometimes react to vaccinations. These reactions are usually very mild and of brief duration. Muscle aches, slight fever, and drowsiness are the most common side effects. Rarely do animals have a more severe reaction, and if they do, the most common symptoms are vomiting, swelling of the face, and hives. If a vaccination reaction occurs, a veterinarian should be called.

Vaccinating your dog is a simple procedure. Only your veterinarian knows the vaccination schedule and the vaccines that are best suited for your dog.

Remember, not only does your dog receive the proper vaccinations, but he or she also gets a thorough physical exam. This medical examination, along with some nutritional and behavioral advice, goes a long way in preventing problems in your adult dog.

Canine Distemper Vaccination

Distemper is a common, highly contagious and often fatal disease found in dogs, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, mink and ferrets. The disease is most often seen in young, unvaccinated dogs, as well as older dogs who have not been vaccinated regularly. The period between exposure to the virus and symptoms is approximately five to nine days.

Symptoms of distemper are extremely variable. All of the symptoms or any combination of symptoms may be present. Usually the first signs of the disease are fever, no appetite, fatigue, and vomiting. These symptoms are usually followed by diarrhea, coughing, thick yellow-green discharge from the nose and eyes, and pneumonia. Eventually the dog may develop convulsions.

Treatment for distemper is mediocre at best. There is no known medication that destroys the virus. The treatment is aimed at preventing secondary infections and keeping the dog warm and hydrated. Antibiotics are usually given for pneumonia and diarrhea. If the dog manages to recover from distemper, he or she is often left with permanent neurological problems.

Vaccinations against distemper should begin at six to eight weeks of age. Repeat vaccinations should be administered every three to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Regular booster vaccinations are strongly recommended to ensure proper immunity.

Vaccinating your dog against distemper is safe, effective and inexpensive. Call your veterinary hospital to arrange a vaccination appointment.

Parvovirus (Parvo) Vaccination

Parvovirus (also known as Parvo) is a serious, highly contagious viral infection of dogs that causes vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Parvovirus is transmitted through contact with the stool of an infected dog or contaminated environment. Puppies are most susceptible to parvo infection and fatalities are extremely common.

Very often, young puppies die suddenly from heart failure. This sudden death occurs before any gastrointestinal symptoms of parvovirus appear. More often, however, dogs develop a pronounced fever, become extremely depressed, and vomit. Bloody diarrhea is the most common symptom of parvovirus infection. Dogs become dehydrated, anemic (as a result of blood loss), and die quickly. Other gastrointestinal diseases may mimic parvovirus, however most are not as severe.

Vaccination against parvovirus is the best protection. Like Distemper, Parvovirus vaccination should begin at 6-8 weeks of age. Repeat vaccinations should be administered every 2-4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Recent information regarding Parvovirus infection may extend this recommendation to 20 weeks and even longer for certain breeds. Regular booster vaccinations are strongly recommended to ensure proper immunity.

Having your dog vaccinated by a veterinarian insures protection against parvovirus infection. Only your veterinarian knows the most efficient vaccination strategy for prevention of parvovirus infection.

Canine Hepatitis Vaccination

Infectious canine hepatitis is a contagious viral disease of dogs, foxes and other canids. The disease should not be confused with human hepatitis, even though both diseases cause liver problems. Dogs and other canids do not transmit the disease to humans!

Vaccinations are extremely effective in preventing this disease and it is rare that a vaccinated dog becomes infected.

Two forms of the disease are possible. With the acute form of the disease, dogs develop a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Eventually they become moribund and die. All of this occurs within a few hours.

Vaccination against hepatitis is usually combined with Distemper vaccine. The vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease. Boosters should be administered regularly.