FAQ About Internal Parasites

FAQ About Internal Parasites


What are internal parasites?
Internal parasites are organisms that live within an animal, gaining their nutrition and protection at the expense of the animal. Internal parasites are frequently referred to as worms. Some of the common worms are roundworms, hookworms (A. caninum), whipworms (threadworms), heartworm and tapeworms. Animals are also susceptible to coccidia and giardia, one-celled organisms that upset the digestive process. Internal parasites live in the heart or intestinal track causing poor health, illnesses and discomfort to your animal. Many internal parasites can be life threatening; for example, heartworms can cause heart failure.

How do animals get parasites?
The most common ways of contracting parasites are through contaminated soil, food or water, mosquitoes, licking the ground, transmission from mother to the offspring (before or after birth) and by fleas, birds and rodents.

What animals are affected by internal parasites?
All breeds of dogs and cats are susceptible to internal parasites. Many other animals such as horses, rabbits and goats can also contract these parasites.

Are internal parasites prevalent where I live?
Internal parasites are found all over the world and can affect animals even in the cleanest environments.

How do you prevent internal parasites?
Internal parasite products like SENTINEL® (milbemycin oxime/lufenuron) Flavor Tabs® are available at your veterinarian's office. If your pet does have internal parasites, it is very important to get a dewormer prescription from your veterinarian. It is also important to have stool samples examined by your veterinarian every 6–12 months and to maintain a clean environment for your pet by daily picking up any stools in the yard.

Is there any potential danger to humans from internal parasites?
Parasites can be transmitted to humans from their pets. Humans acquire these parasites through ingestion of the eggs of the parasite which have passed through the pet's feces. Not washing your hands before eating or putting your hands in your mouth after playing with your infected pet are common ways of transmission.

How do I know if my pet has internal parasites?
Parasites can be found in the feces of your pet. Some types of parasites can be found in the pet's bedding and around the anus. Because many parasite infections do not involve observable symptoms, it is important to visit your veterinarian regularly. Roundworms can cause a pot-bellied appearance in puppies and poor growth. Some signs of other types of internal parasites in your pet include a decrease in appetite, bloody stools, diarrhea and/or a decrease in activity level.

Where can my pet get treatment for internal parasites?
Although it is better to prevent internal parasites than to bear the cost and inconvenience of treatments and discomfort to your pet, dewormer prescriptions are available from your veterinarian. If your pet does have parasites, it is important to take him or her to the veterinarian as soon as possible, as some cases can be life threatening.

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