German Village Veterinary Hospital vets in Columbus, Ohio recommend annual intestinal parasite screening or immediate screening if your dog or cat is having gastrointestinal issues. We use a small fecal sample from your pet to look microscopically for parasite eggs. Your pet may or may not display signs of vomiting or diarrhea if infected with a parasite.
- Roundworms- These are common in puppies and kittens. A lot of times they will get them from their mother, but they can also be transmitted fecal-orally. Roundworms live in the intestines and they can be visibly seen in stools if passed (they look like long spaghetti-like worms). They also are zoonotic (meaning transferable to humans). They infect humans differently however, because humans are not their primary host. If a human is infected, the parasite will migrate through the body and frequently cause ocular migrans. Good hygiene will help minimize chances of getting the parasite since they are transmitted fecal-orally.
- Hookworms- These intestinal parasites are also common in puppies and kittens. Some puppies and kittens are born with them. They can also get them from ingesting infected feces or eggs in the environment. Hookworms are also zoonotic (transferable to humans). Most commonly hookworm larvae will penetrate human skin and will migrate through the body causing inflammation in the affected skin (cutaneous larva migrans).
- Whipworms- These intestinal parasites are not commonly seen with the naked eye. They are transmitted fecal-orally. Infected animals will pass eggs into the environment where uninfected animals can pick them up.
- Tapeworms- Dogs and cats get tapeworms from ingesting infected fleas. They can also get them from hunting rodents, though less common. You can see tapeworm segments in your pet’s stool, bedding, or around their rectum. The segments look like large grains of rice. If the segments are dried up, they can resemble sesame seeds.
- Coccidia- This is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestine and can cause watery diarrhea. You cannot see the parasite with the naked eye. We diagnose it by looking for eggs with microscopic examination.
- Giardia- This is also a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestine. It can cause watery, mucous diarrhea. It is transmitted by dogs ingesting the protozoa through feces, contaminated water, or other areas in the environment.
All of these intestinal parasites are treatable. If you are concerned your dog or cat has any intestinal parasite, please call our vets for more information.
- Heartworms: These parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes bite an infected animal and pick up microfilaria then pass it to an uninfected animal when they bite them. The microfilaria then develop into adult worms that live in the heart. We recommend year-round heartworm prevention and yearly heartworm testing (for dogs). Heartworms in cats can live in the lungs. Heartworm disease for cats is not curable. Many times your pet may not show any signs of heartworm disease. Some signs may be coughing, gagging, rapid breathing, and lethargy.
- Fleas: These are external parasites that your pet can pick up any time of the year whether they live indoor or outdoor. Once you have a flea infestation, it can be frustrating to treat. The flea cycle can take up to 3 months to break. Monthly flea treatments will kill the fleas that are on your pet, but remember there can still be many more in the environment. So you will probably still see fleas, even though they are dying off. We recommend monthly, year-round prevention to avoid this frustration.
- Ticks: Deer Tick, American Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick, and Brown Dog Tick are the common ticks that dogs and cats get (the first 2 being the most common in Ohio). Pets most commonly will pick up ticks from being in wooded areas and/or areas with tall grass. Ticks are vectors for several diseases, including Lyme.
- Demodetic Mange: This is caused by Demodex Mites that naturally live in the skin of your dog. In most dogs they never cause a problem. However, in certain cases where the dog’s immune system is compromised, the mites reproduce rapidly causing inflammation, hairloss, and/or irritation.
- Ringworm: This is actually a fungal infection in the skin. Your pet can get ringworm either with direct contact with an infected animal or through indirect contact with bedding, brushes, etc. Humans can get ringworm from their pets. Immune compromised individuals are more susceptible to it though.