We are open M, t, W, F
and 2:30pm-6pm

Thursday & Saturday 8am-noon

Doctor's hours are by appointment.

To make an appointment, please call

1120 Maricopa Hwy.
Ojai, CA 93023


Intestinal Parasites in Dogs & Cats

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.

Common Worms

Roundworms 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.

Tapeworms are 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.


Allergies Arthritis Blood Pressure
Canine Reproduction Corticosteroids Dental Disease
Feline Hyperthyroidism Feline Reproduction Fleas & Flea Control
Heart Disease Heartworm Heat Stroke
Immunizations for Dogs Immunizations for Cats Intestinal Parasites
Kidney Disease Liver Disease Neutering Surgery
Obesity Poison Prevention Spaying Surgery