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What are intestinal parasites?
The strategy of parasites is to live off of the work of other organisms. Intestinal parasites are small organisms that live in the intestines of a host. There, they are able to consume nutrients and grow, continuing their life cycle. This robs the host of nutrients that it needs.
How do pets get intestinal parasites?
Pets become infected by ingesting the eggs of the parasite. This can happen by eating other animals or insects – most often fleas – which are infected, licking it off themselves after being exposed to infected material, or through the mother’s womb and milk.
What are the signs or symptoms of intestinal parasites?
One of the difficulties of dealing with intestinal parasites is that, without a screening, there may not be any sign of infection for a long time as the parasites grow. If the parasites do make the pet sick, symptoms often include diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, anemia, enlarged abdomen and continuous hunger.
Are intestinal parasites dangerous to my family?
Yes! Some of these parasites are zoonotic; that is, they are able to be passed to humans and cause illness. To prevent infection, wash your hands thoroughly with soap after playing with animals, clean up after pet feces, and do not allow children to play in high-risk areas.
How do I treat intestinal parasites?
The best way to test for intestinal parasites is a stool sample screening that searches for the parasite’s eggs. If the sample is positive for parasites, oral medication will usually be used to treat them.
How often should I test for intestinal parasites?
The doctors of Winslow Animal Hospital and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adult pets should be tested every 6-12 months. For puppies and kittens, the parasites may not mature enough to be detected in a routine screening, so a preventative dewormer is recommended every 2 weeks until 16 weeks of age, followed by an additional fecal examination. Protecting your pets protects your family.