The most common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats include hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccidia. All of these organisms possess the ability to cause illness in your pet. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and poor overall condition; although parasites can affect your animal’s health long before you notice any symptoms. Additionally, roundworms, hookworms and some tapeworms are zoonotic parasites, which means that they can also infect humans. It is for these reasons that you should contact your veterinarian to check on setting up a routine testing schedule and monthly preventatives.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) was developed in 2002 in order to provide guidelines for parasite control in cats and dogs. The panel is composed of experts in parasitology, veterinary medicine and from the CDC (Center for Disease Control). They have developed detailed information on parasite control in companion animals. For more information on CAPC go to www.petsandparasites.org.
Screening for Intestinal Parasites
Most intestinal parasites are not easily seen in feces. At Muskoka Animal Hospital we are able to screen for infection by processing a small sample of your pet’s feces and performing a microscopic analysis. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends that a fecal analysis be performed 2-4 times during the first year of life for puppies and kittens and at least 1-2 times per year for adult animals. The Wellness Plan at Muskoka Animal Hospital accomodates these guidelines.
Prevention and Treatment
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has developed detailed guidelines for parasite control and prevention in dogs and cats. The first step in intestinal parasite prevention is appropriate deworming of puppies and kittens early in life. Young animals acquire intestinal parasites from their mother while in her uterus or through her milk. Therefore, a large percentage of puppies and kittens are infected with intestinal parasites at the time they are adopted. Puppies and kittens should be dewormed every 2-3 weeks until they are 12 weeks old. Animals that are older should be dewormed at least twice when they are first adopted. Once initial deworming is completed, dogs and cats should be put on a monthly, product that prevents intestinal parasites as well as heartworm infection.