Intestinal Parasites – Awareness is Key
Taking my dog Daisy out for a walk very early in the morning is a refreshing and soul rejuvenating experience. Dogs are always in the “now” and when I’m able to stay aware of the “now” with my Daisy each morning, I enjoy the gift of being part of a truly magical place appropriately called “The Present.” In that state of awareness I don’t have a care in the world, no conversation that I have to engage in, no questions that I have to answer, no bills to pay, no job to go to, and for a brief period of time each morning I feel firmly connected with the universe and at ONE with all of creation.
Before I begin my daily walks, I usually let Daisy go use her favorite spot in my yard to relieve herself. On this one particular April morning my daily walk and peace of mind were threatened when I noticed small flat segmented worms that looked like rice in Daisy’s stool. What I was looking at was most certainly an infestation of tapeworms. For the past 6 years I have advised many people on how to effectively and easily eradicate tapeworms, but now that it was my own pet with them, all that knowledge seemed to be drowning in a tidal wave of emotions. Luckily for Daisy and for me, most of the medication used for the treatment of tapeworms is readily available, not too expensive, and does not require a prescription.
That evening I gave Daisy a dose consisting of 2 tablets of the medium/large Dog Worms 3 which is the correct dose for dogs weighing between 50.1 and 100 lbs. With only this single dose, Daisy’s symptom were completely gone in about 2 days, and I was feeling confident that the worms had all been eradicated within the first week after treatment.
This intestinal worm infestation that happened to Daisy is the most common health problem affecting kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs. The 4 types of worms that generally infect our pets are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Typically, worms survive and thrive by feeding off of the nutrients and blood from the host. The infected pet must be treated properly for these parasites in order to prevent malnutrition and anemia.
Sometimes a worm infestation is not recognized until symptoms of anemia and malnourishment are present. If the worm count is small there may be no signs or symptoms at all. The usual signs of worm infection however are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a distended belly, and weight loss. Typically the stool is examined by a veterinarian for eggs or worms to detect the presence of a parasitic infestation.
Roundworms are tan or white worms that are “spaghetti-like” with tapered ends. They are usually between 2 and 6 inches in length. The 3 types are: Toxacara cati which infects cats, Toxicara canis infects dogs, and Toxascaris leonine which infects both cats and dogs. Roundworms are usually transmitted by consuming worm eggs from the soil, through mother’s milk while nursing, or by consuming an animal that is infected with the worms. Symptoms of roundworm infestation may include bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, and bloated belly. Dogs infected with roundworms are usually treated with over the counter medications such as Dog Worms 3 or Panacur C. Prescription medications that may be prescribed by the veterinarian are Heartgard Plus or Iverhart Plus, Iverhart Max, Sentinel, Trifexis, Avantage Multi, and Drontal Plus. Cats may be treated with the prescription medications Drontal Feline, Profender, Advantage Multi, or Revolution.
Hookworms are another type of worm that has hook-like teeth which attach to the intestinal lining. Malnutrition and anemia are the most common complications that develop due to loss of iron and other nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. Hookworms are transmitted through the skin or by ingesting the larva. Dogs infected with Hookworms may be treated with over the counter medications such as Dog Worms 3 or Panacur C. Medications that may be prescribed by the veterinarian include Heartgard Plus or Iverhart Plus, Drontal Plus, Advantage Multi, Trifexis, and Sentinel. Cats may be treated with the prescription medications Drontal Feline, Profender, Advantage Multi, or Revolution.
Tapeworms also attach themselves to the lining of the intestines and are visible to the naked eye as small, white segments resembling rice in the stool. Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas or by eating an infected rodent or other small animal. Weight loss and itching around the anus may be present with this worm infestation. Over the counter treatments for dogs infected with tapeworms include Dog Worm 3 or Panacur C. Medications that your veterinarian may prescribe include Drontal Plus, Iverhart Max, Cestex, and Droncit Canine. Cats may be treated with the over the counter medication called Tapeworm Tablets for Cats. A veterinarian may choose instead to prescribe Cestex, Droncit Feline, or Drontal Feline.
Whipworms have a skinny head and a thicker tail which gives them a “whip” shape. This is mostly a dog disease and infection in cats is very uncommon. If the infection is big enough it can cause bloody diarrhea and the dog will become weak and dehydrated. Whipworms can be treated successfully with the over the counter medication Panacur C. Other medications that require a prescription from you veterinarian include Drontal Plus Canine, Advantage Multi, Sentinel, and Trifexis. Once treatment is given and the worms are cleared the dog will usually recover rather quickly and fully.
Finally it is important to keep in mind when preventing worm infections to make sure to pick up the feces as soon as possible to keep the worm eggs from developing. This is also much better for the environment. The roundworm and tapeworm are visible to the naked eye and are sometimes seen in the vomit or stool. Over the counter medication for worms such as the Dog Worms 3, Panacur C, and Tapeworm Tablets for Cats are easy to use, extremely effective, and cost efficient. Hookworms are not visible to the naked eye and whipworms are usually not seen because they mostly remain in the large intestine. In many cases a visit to the veterinarian is highly recommended to properly diagnose and treat worm infection. Your veterinarian may also want to use a broad spectrum wormer regularly to prevent, treat, and keep the pet worm free.
Developing a good relationship with your pet’s veterinarian is an extremely important ingredient for keeping your pet healthy. Another great resource is the pharmacist at 1-800-PetMeds who is always more than happy to answer any medication related questions that you might have.