The Ugly Truth about Intestinal Parasites


MAM Intestinal parasite blog header


By: Meg Murphy, VMD

Intestinal parasites are fairly common in dogs and cats, and can cause a variety of symptoms, such as: gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, changes in appetite), lack of energy, or respiratory problems (coughing, difficulty breathing).

Most intestinal parasites are not seen in the stool samples by owners. They must be identified by finding their microscopic eggs in a fecal check, performed by the veterinary laboratory. The exception are tapeworms, which are often identified by the presence of flat, white, rice-like segments visible on the fur around a pet’s rectum or tail, or in the stool. Parasites such as whipworms and giardia, can be difficult to identify in stool samples. Occasionally, your adult pet may be given a dewormer if clinical symptoms of diarrhea (sometimes mucoid or bloody), weight loss and/or vomiting are present.

When a cat or dog becomes infected with an intestinal parasite, it is not necessarily an indication of being unhealthy or due to a lack of adequate care. There are many ways that pets can contract intestinal parasites, including: multiple cats sharing a litter box, cats hunting outdoor prey, or consuming raw foods infected with parasites and their eggs. Those pesky stink bugs can also harbor roundworms!! Pets can contract tapeworms after ingesting a flea while grooming themselves.

Young puppies and kittens are the most susceptible to parasite infections. At Rau, we request that you bring in a stool specimen for your new pets and we will also treat them with a broad-spectrum dewormer called Strongid-T. We recommend checking all adult pets’ stool specimens at their annual physical exam.

Aggressive flea prevention is one of the most important things you, as an owner, can do to help prevent your pet from contracting parasites. Additionally, monthly heartworm prevention, such as Sentinel, notably prevents heartworm disease and also controls and treats many common intestinal worms. This is why Rau recommends keeping pets on these preventions YEAR ROUND!


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