Unlike fleas, ticks, or lice, these parasites cannot be seen on the outside of your pet’s body and usually prefer the GI tract or heart to take up residence. Commonly, pets with diarrhea or strange stools out of nowhere are infected with one or more parasites. Clear Creek Animal Hospital has everything you need to keep your pets (and you!) parasite free, which is important, because humans can contract these parasites in their own bodies if exposed.
Intestinal Parasites: All intestinal parasites are contracted by the ingestion of another animal’s feces or dead animal material. It is important to clean your pet’s paws when they enter the house and make sure they do not eat anything off of the ground while on walks or at the park. We recommend checking a stool sample on your pet at least once a year even if your pet is not experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.
Giardia: Found mainly in water, soil, and also in bird feces, this microorganism is more closely related to a bacterial infection than a worm. It is difficult to treat and can be transmitted to humans. Drinking from lakes and streams is the most common mode of transmission.
Coccidia: Several types of coccidia exist and not all of them are parasitic to our dogs or cats, however, they are passed through the stool of animals and can be parasitic to other species of pets. Not often parasitic in humans.
Roundworms: Most puppies and kittens are born with roundworms. The worm lays dormant in the mammary glands of the mother and awakens when the offspring begin to feed. It commonly looks like strands of spaghetti in the stool. Monthly preventive medicine like Heartgard can keep roundworms away. Humans can contract this parasite too, causing major GI upset.
Hookworms: Hookworms penetrate through the feet or belly and attach to the intestines and cause vomiting and diarrhea. Beaches are the most common place for contracting hookworms, but can they be found in most farms and rural areas. Monthly preventive medicine like Heartgard can keep hookworms away. Humans can contract this parasite too, however, instead of living in the intestines like dogs and cats, hookworms prefer human eyeballs as their home.
Tapeworms: Probably the most well-known internal parasite, Tapeworms come from their external parasite cousin, the flea. When a dog has a flea infestation it is usually followed by a tapeworm infestation as well. Usually, the eggs are directly ingested and hatch inside the intestines. When the eggs are shed they often resemble small pieces of rice or sesame seeds. Tapeworms can be transferred to humans as well.