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Many Diseases Can Be Prevented - page 2 / 4





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4-H Companion Animal Health

is effective in preventing the disease in people if it is administered soon after their possible exposure. Because of the serious public health threat, Indiana law requires a rabies vaccination for all dogs.

Internal Parasites

The most common internal intestinal parasites are tapeworms and roundworms.

Tapeworms. Tapeworms are long, segmented worms. They are transmitted when a dog ingests a larval stage of the worm found in a flea or the raw meat of small mam- mals. A dog that hunts on its own or has had fleas will likely develop tapeworms. Individual tapeworm segments are easily seen in freshly passed feces or around the anus of an infected dog. Special dewormers are required for treatment.

Roundworms. The roundworm classification encompasses many worm types, including ascarids, hookworms, whipworms, and heartworms. The intestinal worms are transmitted by the ingestion of feces or feces-contaminated soil that contains worm eggs. The transmission of the heartworm, however, requires an intermediate host such as a mosquito for propagation. Your veterinar- ian will perform a specialized microscopic exami- nation of feces (for intestinal worms) or blood (for heartworms) to determine the presence of round- worms. Treatment or prevention with medication is effective, but it should be repeated regularly and monitored to determine if reinfection has occurred. Deworm a dog with a veterinarian’s supervision.

The following describes in more detail the four types of roundworms mentioned above.

Ascarids are long, thin spaghetti-like worms that in- habit the intestine. Some types of these worms can be seen in an infected dog’s feces. These worms commonly create a problem in pups, where they cause stunted growth, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and a pot-bellied appearance. In severe cases, ascarids can cause seizures (convulsions).

Hookworms are tiny worms that attach them- selves to the intestinal wall and suck blood from the dog. They can be transmitted in utero and via the



mother’s milk to newborn pups. Consequently, pups may have hookworms at a very early age. Signs of infection include lethargy, stunted growth, anemia, and dark, tarry feces. Hookworms are a life-threat- ening parasite at any age. Blood transfusions may be necessary in advanced cases.

Whipworms are tiny worms that inhabit and de- velop in the lower bowel. They often cause chronic watery diarrhea and weight loss. Their life cycle is longer than most intestinal parasites, and proper

timing of repeated deworming is impor- tant for their control.

Heartworms are devastating internal parasites that live in a dog’s heart and in the big vessels near the heart, where they cause severe damage to the circulatory system and lungs. They are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito that has bitten an infected dog. Treatment is difficult, but preventive measures are avail- able. Dogs should have a blood test for heartworms in early spring before mosquito season begins. If the test is positive, treatment may be attempt- ed. If the test is negative, preventive medication can be given to your dog daily or on a monthly basis throughout the mosquito season. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best heartworm prevention plan for your dog.

External Parasites

External parasites are “bugs” (insects) that live on the outside of a dog’s body. They include fleas, ticks, lice, flies, mosquitoes, mites, and others. They not only cause irritation, but also may transmit diseases and cause disease in humans. Careful skin examination by a veterinarian can detect these parasites.

Fleas are readily seen in a dog’s haircoat. They are pencil-lead size, brown, compressed side to side and seem to be in constant motion. They are seen most easily at the base of the tail, between the ears, or in the short hair on the abdomen. Even if the flea is not visible, black specks of excre- ment may be seen. Many treatments are available; however, the dog’s environment must be treated just as vigorously, since the flea actually spends more time off the dog than on. Flea control should

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