| Intestinal Parasites
The most common intestinal parasites are divided into four groups: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms, plus a few species of single cell organisms.
Pets get infected with these parasites by drinking contaminated water, coming into contact with infected animals or their feces, getting bitten by fleas, or nursing from an infected mother.
Any dogs or cats can be infected by intestinal parasites, but puppies and kittens get them more often since they can get them from their mothers or other animals they are living with.
Some of the signs to watch for include: a change in appetite, coughing, diarrhea, weight loss, skin irritation and itching, rough or dry coat and an overall poor appearance. A dog sometimes scoots its bottom across the ground or carpet if it has tapeworms because the worms are irritating the skin around the anus.
The best way to know what kind of parasites your pet has is to get its feces tested by a veterinarian. Microscopic analysis is often required since the worms or their eggs are too small to be seen by the naked eye.
Tapeworms can often be seen without a microscope. The segments of the worm look like pieces of rice and appear in the pet's feces or sticking to the hair near the tail. If you notice these segments, place them in a small container and bring them to your veterinarian to be tested.
Your veterinarian can determine treatment for intestinal parasites. Most over the counter treatments are not effective against all types of parasites. Most treatments only take a few days, however your pet should be tested again in a few weeks to make sure that the parasites are truly gone.
The best way to keep your pet from getting intestinal parasites is to keep their area clean and free of feces. Keep your pet's home free from fleas, and have your pets feces checked at least annually unless you see some signs or symptoms.