Intestinal parasites in dogs

The description, lifestyle, prevention, and cure of the internal parasites in dogs.


There are many advantages to owning a dog.

Besides companionship, they offer security, empathy, and unconditional love. With all they have to offer, it is important to remember the responsibility of pet ownership.

Lots of love, a good diet and regular veterinary care are essential to the well being of your pet. Routine veterinary checkups that include an examination, immunizations and tests for internal parasites will insure a long, happy life for your pet.

Internal parasites are the most common of problems in dogs. Statistics show that one in three dogs will be infected at some time with intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.

Roundworms are the most commonly seen intestinal parasite. Puppies are often born with them and can be treated as early as three weeks. In puppies, the larvae penetrate the small intestine and then enter the bloodstream to arrive at the liver and lungs. Sometimes, they will even travel up the trachea where they can be coughed up, swallowed then pass back to the intestines where they mature and reproduce. These worms can also migrate to the muscles where they form cysts and lie dormant. If the dog becomes pregnant, the worms can migrate to the lungs of the developing puppies as well as into the mother’s milk.

Hookworms actually attach themselves to the dog’s intestinal wall. When untreated, they can cause intestinal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, anemia, and even death.         
Whipworms are often the hardest to cure in dogs because of the prolific nature of the female worm. One female can produce in excess of 2,000 eggs a day, these eggs are passed in the dog’s feces and can survive in the soil for years regardless of the cold or heat of a given region.

Tapeworms occur when a dog bites and swallows fleas. They are made up of many flat segments that resemble moving grains of rice. They are the most common worms seen by the owner when cleaning up the feces of their dog.

Heartworms are exactly what the name implies. They are the most serious and deadly parasite to attack an adult dog. These worms are carried by mosquitoes and transmitted when the dog is bitten. Lodging in the heart, the worms restrict blood flow and cause damage to other internal organs. Without treatment, heartworms will cause a long and often lingering death.

All of the above-mentioned intestinal parasites can be easily treated then given preventative medication to keep a recurrence of infestation. Most heartworm preventatives include medications to prevent all the intestinal worms but tapeworms.

Depending on the type of worm, treatment will involve a single dose to a three-day program.

The cure for heartworms is much more difficult and dangerous. It is also expensive and time-consuming. The treatment can even be fatal. Blood profiles should be done prior to treatment. This allows the veterinarian to be as sure as humanly possible, that the dog’s heart, liver, and kidneys are up to the strain. If the tests are within an acceptable range, the dog is then hospitalized for a minimum of three days. During this time, injections are given twice daily. These will kill the adult worms over an extended period of time. Follow up treatments are done in three to four weeks. The survival rate of dogs undergoing the treatment for heartworms is better than 90% The fatality rate for dogs left untreated, is 100%