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Managing Intestinal Parasites in Dogs and Cats

Intestinal parasites have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and aren't going away anytime soon. Managing these parasites effectively is essential to maintaining your pets' health. Parasites thrive by using your pets as a source of nutrition, leading to symptoms like rough hair coats, diarrhea, and anemia. Effective management isn't about frequent deworming but about using the right dewormer at the right time for maximum impact.

Small Intestine Parasites: Upper GI

Understanding the specific parasites is crucial. Roundworms and hookworms reside in the small intestine and are relatively easy to eliminate with most dewormers.

Roundworms: These are 3 to 7 inches long and resemble spaghetti. If puppies or kittens are vomiting parasites, it is likely roundworms. These worms are sometimes visible in the stool but usually digested before passing.

Hookworms: These tiny parasites, about ½ inch long, attach to the intestinal wall and feed on blood. They can be transmitted to puppies through the mother’s milk. Both roundworms and hookworms can migrate through tissues, especially the liver, and complete their life cycle in the intestine after being coughed up and swallowed.

Managing these parasites is vital as they can infect humans too. Regular deworming is essential to protect both pets and family members.

Large Intestine Parasites: Lower GI Parasites in Dogs

Tapeworms and whipworms inhabit the large intestine, making them harder to eliminate due to their distance from the mouth.

Tapeworms: These parasites are distinct from others and can cause colitis and rectal irritation. Tapeworm segments, which look like rice grains, are passed in feces. Preventing tapeworms involves controlling the intermediate hosts like fleas, mice, or birds.

Whipworms: These parasites are challenging to eradicate and require preventing re-infection. They can seed an area, and other pets can ingest the mature parasites, continuing the cycle. Raised decks and proper sanitation can help break this cycle.

Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs and Cats

Coccidia and Giardia are tiny parasites causing diarrhea and are prevalent throughout the intestine. Controlling these parasites involves keeping their numbers low to avoid frequent treatments. Prevention is key, especially in environments like kennels.

Deworming Adult Dogs and Cats

Adult pets play a crucial role in preventing parasites. Deworming males twice a year and females during the last three weeks of pregnancy through to the puppies being 14 days old can significantly reduce the parasite load passed to the offspring.

Deworming Pregnant Dogs and Cats

Parasites become more active in late pregnancy, when females are stressed. Babies are born with sterile guts, and mothers seed their guts with both good bacteria and potential parasites. Deworming pregnant moms can effectively control parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia.

Internal Parasites in Newly Acquired Animals

Always assume newly acquired pets have parasites, regardless of their history or age. Immediate deworming, followed by a second dose in two weeks, and then continuing with the adult program can help manage and prevent the spread of parasites.

Managing intestinal parasites in dogs and cats is a critical part of maintaining their health. Proper deworming schedules and preventive measures can ensure your pets stay healthy and happy. For more information and resources, visit

Intestinal Parasites in Dogs and Cats
Intestinal Parasites in Dogs and Cats


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