Common Intestinal Parasites in Dogs Types
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For those who live with animals, parasites need to be an important consideration. They are present throughout the world and frequently infest all kinds of animals, hence the importance of adequate preventive medicine. When we see our dog is crawling with fleas or has a large tick secured to their skin, we will become worried. But not all parasites in dogs are external. Many are internal and the majority of these are intestinal parasites. Often an infestation is asymptomatic and we will not notice until it has advanced.
In this AnimalWised, we look at the common intestinal parasites in dogs types. We see what symptoms we need to look out for and what treatment options are available.
Types of parasites in dogs
Our dog can be affected by both internal and external parasites. While the majority of internal parasites are found in the gastrointestinal tract, it is possible that internal parasites in dogs can also be found in organs such as the heart, lungs and eyes.
External parasites in dogs appear on their skin or fur, sometimes localized to certain areas such as the ears. This is one of the reasons you may see them scratch their ears repetitively. For dogs, parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites stand out as the most common. Not all parasites will cause evident symptoms. However, some can cause very serious problems and may be lethal. For example, heartworms can infest the heart to such an extent it will no longer function as a vital organ.
The level of injury largely depends on the level of infestation and the health status of the affected dog. Parasitosis or parasitic disease is a disease caused by or transferred by parasites to the dog. Some may be asymptomatic,but others will have obvious signs. In almost all cases, parasites need to be prevented and treated to ensure the health and well-being of the dog.
Most common types of intestinal parasites in dogs
It is vitally important that guardians know about intestinal parasites in dogs. This introduction will help you to know the the most common types as well as how they are diagnosed. Many are types of parasitic worms known as helminths. These are relatively large worms which live inside the body and can generally be seen by the naked eye.
The most common intestinal parasites in dogs are:
- Ascaris: including Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina, two of the most common. They are both types of roundworm and Toxocara canis is simply known as dog roundworm. They live in the stomach and intestines and can reach a considerable size. They lay eggs capable of withstanding their environment for prolonged periods of time. Puppies can be infested by their mother via breastfeeding, another reason it is so important provide preventive medicine to all dogs. They can also be ingested though an intermediate host such as a rodent.
- Hookworms: these parasites are types of roundworm only found in the dog's intestines. They are known as hookworms because they ‘hook’ themselves onto the mucosa of the dog's intestines. In doing so, they absorb fluids and blood through their mouths. These intestinal parasites can also be passed from mother to puppy, by ingestion of larvae present in the environment or by ingesting an intermediate host.
- Tapeworms: worms that lodge in the small intestine and can reach 2 meters in length. Fleas play a very important role in this parasite, since they can ingest tapeworm eggs and transmit them to dogs if they swallow them. They are generally a type of long flat worm which can sometimes be seen when the dog excretes feces.
- Whipworms: known as whipworms because of their threadlike appearance, but which tapers to a thicker end segment. These worms attach to the walls of the large intestine and, although they lay fewer eggs than other parasites, they are capable of surviving for years in the environment.
Symptoms of common intestinal parasites in dogs
As we have said, the presence of internal parasites in dogs does not always create symptoms when looking at the dog's clinical picture. However, when they create visible symptoms, there are some which are common to most parasitosis. Some dogs will be at greater risk of parasitical disease due to a weakened immunity. This may be caused by a genetic condition or by a concurrent disease.
It is not only immunodeficient dogs which are most at risk when infested by parasites. Young puppies and senior dogs are also often at a greater risk. So too are those which have undergone stressful situations such as surgeries or abandonment.
The most common symptoms of intestinal parasites in dogs are:
- Weight loss
- Slowed development
- Abdominal inflammation
- Pale mucus membranes
- Blood in stool
- Intestinal obstruction
- Respiratory problems
Some parasitical worms can collect together into a ball which results in the intestinal obstruction. However, this would be a much rarer occasion. Much more common is the dog being affected by vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Can common intestinal parasites in dogs spread to humans?
There are many types of parasites which are species specific. This means they cannot infest human beings, even if ingested. These types of parasite may be very similar in appearance and behavior, but will only be interested in a given species.
Some intestinal parsites in dogs are vectors of diseases which can be transferred from dogs to humans. For example, roundworms are capable of producing a disease known as visceral larva migrans (VLM). This occurs after ingesting their eggs.
Young children are an at-risk group, as they are more likely to eat unclean elements and show poorer hygiene habits in general. Symptoms which appear in large infestations of internal parasites in dogs include abdominal pain or coughing. Other complications will generally depend on the organ the larvae affect.
Some hookworms are responsible for the disease known as cutaneous larva migrans (CLM). This causes itching due to the penetration of their larvae into the skin. In view of the fact some canine parasites can be transferred to humans, we need to ensure our dogs will not be a source of contagion for the rest of the family. This is why a suitable dewroming schedule is required.
How to treat common intestinal parasites in dogs
If we discover any of the symptoms described above in our own dog or we observed the presence of worms in their stool or vomit, we need to take them to a veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will run diagnostic tests to try to determine the exact type of intestinal parasite as this will affect the type of treatment. This may require taking a stool sample to be observed in a veterinary laboratory.
More than just treating the parasites, we need to prevent infestation of our dog in the first place. This requires the establishment of a deworming schedule, something which will also require a veterinarian. They will let us know which parasites are common in the area and suggest the correct type of deworming require to prevent them. They will also assess their state of health, environment and any other safety issues.
Medicines for intestinal parasites in dogs
On the market, we can find solutions, pastes or, most commonly, tablets used to eliminate intestinal parasites. Since they are types of internal parasites, the medication is usually taken orally, but may be administered rectally in some cases. We will always need to use products prescribed by the veterinarian as giving them something inappropriate can aggravate the clinical picture further.
There are various names for parasite medications for dogs. To know more about treating intestinal canine parasites, take a look at our article on Procox for dogs.
The recommendation is generally to follow a deworming program which begins at two weeks of age and will continue throughout the dog's life. If we love our dog, we will want to protect them from harm. Deworming is one of the most vital ways to do so.
To find out more, take a look at our article on whether you can vaccinate your dog and deworm them on the same day.
Environmental control for common intestinal parasites in dogs
In addition to internal deworming as prevention of the most common intestinal parasites in dogs, we should also adjust their environment. This not only prevents infestations, but will stop them spreading after one occurs. To introduce suitable hygienic measures, you should:
- Establish good hygiene habits, especially in children.
- Avoid games in parks frequented by dogs or in open sandboxes.
- If our dog has an outdoor area, the floor must be made of cement or gravel. These can be disinfected, but earth and soil cannot. Soil is the ideal substrate for many parasites. If you have a kennel it is advisable to clean it daily with a hose.
- We must remove our dog's feces immediately if they defecate at home.
- It is not recommended that we let them hunt, eat scraps of garbage or raw meat.
- We must consult with our veterinarian for additional measures taking into account the life cycle of the parasite.
- Of course, it is essential to keep our dog dewormed, for both their health and that of the whole family.
Home remedies for common intestinal parasites in dogs
More and more people are looking for natural remedies for internal parasites in dogs. However, it is important to note that these types of therapies must also be prescribed by a veterinarian. They will supervise the process and in no case should they replace pharmacological treatment. Home remedies may help prevent their appearance but, once the infestation occurs, they do not eradicate them.
If you want to use some home remedies for intestinal parasites in dogs, it will be important that you consult with your trusted specialist and that you do not neglect the prescribed veterinary treatment. Find out more about parasites being transferred from dogs to humans in our video below:
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Common Intestinal Parasites in Dogs Types, we recommend you visit our De-worming category.
- Kohansal, M. H., et al. (2017). Dogs’ Gastrointestinal Parasites and their Association with Public Health in Iran. Journal of Veterinary Research, 61(2), 189-195.