In Southern California, by far the most common internal parasites are
roundworms and tapeworms. We do see coccidia and Giardia occasionally,
but they are not nearly as prevalent as the roundworms and tapeworms.
Call Ojai Pet Hospital if you think your pet may have worms or for more information.
are present in nearly every puppy and kitten born, since the worms are
present within the mother's bodies and transfer directly to the fetuses
while still in the uterus. Although the roundworms in the intestinal
tract can be killed with current medications, this worm has a larval
migration cycle that lets it travel throughout the body during its
maturation process. If all goes well (for the worm) it makes its way to
the lungs where the larvae are coughed up and swallowed and enter the
intestinal tract to become egg laying adults. If all does not go well,
the larvae stop in some organ system and lie dormant until a hormonal
stimulus from the pregnant mother starts the migration cycle again. At
this time, many of the larvae usually wind up in the uterus where they
migrate into the yet to be born fetuses and infect them prior to birth.
Since the dormant larvae cannot be killed with current medications,
nothing can really be done to prevent this pre birth infection.
Visceral Larva Migrans
is a potentially serious problem. Although roundworms of dogs and cats
are not a normal parasite of people, anyone (usually children) who
consumes the eggs of the roundworm, can get the larval migration cycle
started within their own bodies and if those larvae travel to a vital
organ, it can result in damage. One example is the eye. Larvae that travel
to a child's eye can cause serious damage and blindness or the loss of
the eye can result.
probably the most common intestinal parasite in our area. Transmitted
through fleas, small rodents, silverfish, cockroaches and other creepy
crawlies, this parasite attaches to the intestinal wall with several
hooks in its mouth and literally sucks the blood of its victim. Not
only does it compete with the pet for its blood and the nutrients that
went into making the blood, but it also causes damage to the intestinal
wall. Although most medications for tapeworms only kill a small
percentage of the worms and can cause the pet to become very sick, the
injection we give in our hospital kills 100% of the worms present and
rarely causes any side effects. Although not a vaccine to prevent
reinfestation, it is a highly effective treatment. I advise the
injection at least once a year, usually at the time of revaccination,
or sooner if signs of reinfestation are present. Unfortunately, the
eggs are passed very infrequently and migrate away from the stool
within 10-15 minutes after the stool is passed. This makes it difficult
to know if the parasite is present or not. Even a fresh stool sample
(bowel movement) is unlikely to be diagnostic, since the eggs are so
infrequently passed. With almost no side effects and the high frequency
of infestation in our area, presuming they are present and treating for
them is the most effective approach.
Hookworms and whipworms
are additional intestinal parasites that can be found in this area, but
usually in pets that picked them up elsewhere. These can be difficult
to detect, as they do not always pass eggs in the stool of the pet.
Often, multiple samples must be checked to find them.