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Help! My puppy has worms! – Kitten and Puppy Parasites

Posted 08.20.15 by Emily Lindsey

Intestinal parasites are commonly diagnosed in our pet population, especially in young puppies and kittens.  Dogs can get intestinal parasites from several different sources, including contaminated soil, through their mother’s milk or through intermediate hosts such as fleas, rodents, lizards, etc.  Some types of puppy parasites are visible to the naked eye and will be easily identified in the feces.  However, others are not and can only be diagnosed by looking at a fecal sample under a microscope.

Upon examining a puppy or kitten for the first time, we perform a fecal test to look for intestinal parasites.  Occasionally, a fecal test will appear negative, even though parasites are present.  This can be due to an insufficient sample or a sample taken at a time when no eggs are being shed.  For this reason, we recommend getting two negative fecal samples before moving to a yearly testing schedule.

So why are these parasites important, other than the fact that they are displeasing to look at?  Some of these parasites can cause diarrhea, inappetance and even vomiting.  Others, if present in many numbers, can cause pets to become anemic and even need blood transfusions.  The other very important factor with intestinal parasites is their zoonotic potential.  Zoonoses are diseases and organisms that can be transmitted from animals to humans.  There are very serious medical consequences to a person who contracts some of these parasites.


We often talk about flea prevention and heartworm prevention when we discuss intestinal parasites.  Most of our commonly prescribed heartworm preventatives also contain medication that helps prevent these intestinal parasites.  Similarly, flea prevention is important because it prevents one particular parasite, tapeworms, from completing its life cycle and being able to infect your pet.

In summary, both diagnosing and preventing intestinal parasites is an important step to take when you bring a new puppy into your home.  It is also something that we continue to check for throughout your pet’s life, to help keep both you and your pet happy and healthy.

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