Chance was recently at Winslow Animal Hospital in Sicklerville for his first puppy visit! Dr. Linda Bohn examined him from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail to make sure he is healthy. In addition to his physical examination, Chance was tested for intestinal parasites. His parents brought in a stool sample to be tested for parasites. Why is intestinal parasite screening for dogs and cats so important?
Here are the basics that you need to know:
Methods of Infection
Some parasites are contracted trans-placentally, simply passing from mother to offspring. This means that your new pet could be infected even if they are not exposed to other contaminated material! Others are contracted via direct contact with infected feces, infected stagnant water, through infected hosts (mice, rabbits, fleas, etc.) or through skin penetration via contaminated soil.
Types of Parasites
Most common to U.S -Hookworms, Whipworms, Roundworms, and Tapeworms. Protozoal infections (one-celled organisms) such as Coccidiosis and Giardia masquerade as ‘worms’ and cause identical symptoms to other parasitic infections.
Signs of Parasitic Infection
Pets may NOT show clinical signs which is why preventative care is so important. Most common symptoms include diarrhea, bloody stool, weight loss, lethargy, distended abdomen, abdominal cramping, dullness of coat, dehydration or anemia especially when infected by a ‘blood-sucking’ variety of parasite.
Veterinarians recommend regular stool sample screenings, at least once per year for most pets. However, every 6 mos. for pets that have chronic parasitic infections or whenever suspicious symptoms begin. Do not allow your pet to drink stagnant water and keep away from environments that are heavily contaminated with feces, such as dog parks. Clean up your pet’s environment on a regular basis to avoid soil contamination.
Fecal samples for testing should be fresh, no more than 24 hours old and in an airtight container. Sample size recommended is one (1) gram which is equivalent to 2 sugar cubes or one medium marble.