Jockey Hollow Veterinary Practice

3 Jockey Hollow Road
New Milford, NY 10959

(845)986-9900

www.jhvet.com

Parasites, Pets, & People

Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable to parasites. Unfortunately, some of these parasites are dangerous to people- especially children. As pets are increasingly present as part of the family unit, parasite control becomes more important.

Know the facts:  Don’t expose your children!

  • Hookworms and roundworms can be harbored by your dog or cat and transmitted to children who are living in homes with pets.  In some cases these parasites can cause blindness in humans.  It is thought that 30% to 50% of dogs and cats carry gastrointestinal (GI) parasites and that 1 to 3 million people in the U.S. have infections from the same parasites carried by pets.  Children are at high risk due to their tendency to play in dirt. Roundworms can cause liver, lung and brain tissue.

     
  • Dogs and cats can get infected with hookworms and roundworms by walking places where other animals have defecated.  The microscopic roundworm eggs and hookworm larvae end up on your pet’s feet.  Your pet then licks his feet and infects him or herself with these GI parasites.  Three weeks later, your pet is shedding hookworm eggs and larvae from his GI tract.  Even pets that live primarily indoors can become infected. People can become infected when they walk through or play in areas that are contaminated with parasites.
     
  • Dogs and cats can get ticks that spread Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia.  These diseases can affect people if the ticks attach themselves to people.  

 

  • Cats get infected with hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms by hunting prey.  Even if your cat lives indoors, the ingestion of one house mouse can expose your cat to GI parasites.  Cats with a flea infestation can spread cat scratch fever to children, elderly people, or immunocompromised (AIDS, cancer patients, organ transplant recipients) people.

 

The Jockey Hollow Veterinary Practice is committed to protecting your family and pets from parasites.

We recommend that your pet have stool checks at least twice yearly to screen for intestinal parasites.  In addition, dogs and cats should receive year-round topical treatment for fleas and ticks with the application of a monthly product such as Advantage®, Frontline ®or Vectra®. Monthly treatment with Sentinel® will prevent flea, intestinal parasite and heartworm infection in your dog.  Cats can be given Interceptor® monthly to prevent intestinal parasites and heartworm disease.  For cats that will not take pills, you can apply a topical such as Advantage multi® once a month to protect against fleas, intestinal parasites and heartworm infection.  By protecting your pet, you are protecting your family.

Please click on the link to the left if you are like most pet owners and need a friendly reminder to give your pet it's parasite treatment.

Our staff will be happy to make an integrated parasite control plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

REMIND ME TO GIVE MEDICATION

How Can You Prevent the Risk of Spreading Parasites to Your Children?

 is a useful site with more information about keeping your family safe.

  • Keep your dog on monthly heartworm preventative all year.  This medication helps to prevent hookworms and roundworms in your dog.  Keep your dog on topical flea and tick control all year.

     
  • Scoop the yard where your dog defecates at least weekly, ideally daily, as worm eggs and larvae are found in stool and can contaminate the environment.

     
  • Bring your pet’s stool sample to your veterinarian at least twice per year and ideally four times per year.  You do not have to bring your pet into the veterinary hospital for this service.  The stool should be fresh.  Many veterinarians will provide a special cup that allows specimen collection without touching the stool.

     
  • Keep your cat on heartworm prevention once per month all year.  This medication eliminates hookworms that could be potentially spread to humans in the household.  It also kills fleas, which can be culprits in spreading cat scratch disease (cat scratch fever). Or deworm your pet quarterly with the a topical spot-on treatment such as Profender®.

     
  • Teach your children to wash their hands before eating, especially if they have recently handled their pet.


The Jockey Hollow Veterinary Practice follows the CAPC guidelines that are built on the Center of Disease Control recommendations for preventing the transmission of hookworms and roundworms to children. Current CAPC guidelines call for deworming puppies and kittens at 2 weeks of age and repeating deworming medication every two weeks until they are started on monthly heartworm/intestinal parasite programs at eight to nine weeks old.  Stool samples should be checked several times in the first year of life and twice yearly thereafter.



 

Roundworms in Cats & Kittens

There are two species of roundworms affecting cats and kittens: Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. Both are treated with the same medication protocol so when eggs are seen on a fecal flotation exam it is not necessary to determine which species is present. T. leonina can infect both dogs and cats so identifying this roundworm might be helpful in indicating which pets in the household are at risk for further contagion.

 

How Infection Occurs

In cats, there are three ways by which infection with Toxocara cati occurs:

  • Consuming infective worm eggs from soil in the environment (generally through normal grooming)
     
  • Nursing from an infected mother cat (most kittens are infected this way).
     
  • Consuming a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms.

Note: dogs cannot be infected with Toxocara cati. They have their own roundworm: Toxocara canis.

adult Toxocara worms
 

Life as a Roundworm

Toxocara cati has one of the most amazing life cycles in the animal kingdom. It is crucial to understand this life cycle if effective treatment is to be pursued.

 

Step One: Toxocara eggs are passed in the host’s feces. If a fecal sample is tested, the eggs can be detected. The embryonic worm develops in the outdoor environment inside its microscopic egg for one month before it becomes able to infect a new host. If environmental conditions are favorable, it takes about a month for the egg to become infective but Toxocara eggs are famous for weathering harsh environmental conditions. Eggs can remain infective for months to years.

Note: Fresh feces are not infectious.

Step Two: The egg containing what is called a second stage larva is picked up orally by a cat or by some other animal. The egg hatches in the new host’s intestinal tract and the young worm burrows its way out of the intestinal tract to encyst in the host’s other body tissues. If the new host is a cat, the life cycle proceeds. If the new host is a member of another species, such as a rodent, the larvae wait encysted until the new host is eaten by a cat.

Step Three: These second stage larvae can remain encysted happily for years. If the host is a cat, though, most larvae waste no time encysting and continue their migration straight to the lungs. The majority of the incoming larvae have reached the cat's lungs by the third day after infection. Those larvae that stay behind encysted do so in the cat's liver. Once they get to the lung, they develop into third stage larvae and burrow into the small airways, ultimately traveling upward towards the host’s throat. A heavy infection can produce a serious pneumonia. When they get to the upper airways, they cause coughing. The worms are coughed up into the host’s throat where they are swallowed, thus entering the intestinal tract for the second time in their development.

If the host is a nursing mother, second stage larvae can migrate to the mammary gland instead of the lung. Kittens can thus be infected by drinking their mother’s milk. Larvae that had encyst in the liver and gone dormant will re-awaken during the host's pregnancy, continuing their migration just in time to infect the nursing kittens. In this way, a well-dewormed mother cat can still infect her kittens.

Note: When cats are dewormed, this affects only worms in the intestinal tract. It does not affect encysted larvae. It is very difficult to prevent mother-to-kitten transmission and routine deworming is not adequate.

Step Four: Once back in the intestine, the larvae complete their maturation and begin to mate. The first eggs are laid about one week after the fourth stage larvae have arrived in the intestine and about 4 to 5 weeks after infection has first occurred. From here the cycle repeats.

Why is Infection Bad?

Roundworm infection can have numerous negative effects. It is a common cause of diarrhea in young animals and can cause vomiting as well. Sometimes the worms themselves are vomited up, which can be alarming as they can be quite large with females reaching lengths of up to seven inches. The worms consume the host’s food and can lead to unthriftiness and a classical pot-bellied appearance. Very heavy infections can lead to pneumonia as the worms migrate and, if there are enough worms, the intestine can actually become obstructed.

It should also be noted that human infection by this parasite is especially serious. It is important to minimize the contamination of environmental soil with the feces of infected animals so as to reduce the exposure hazard to both humans and other animals.

How do we know if our Cat is Infected?

You may not know and this is one of the arguments in favor of regular deworming. Regular deworming is especially recommended for cats that hunt and might consume the flesh of hosts carrying worm larvae. Kittens are frequently simply assumed to be infected and automatically dewormed. Please talk to us about setting up a deworming strategy for you cat.

Toxocara egg
 

Of course, there are ways to find out if your pet is infected. If a cat or kitten vomits up a worm, there is a good chance this is a roundworm (especially in a kitten). Roundworms are long and white, and are described as looking like spaghetti. Tapeworms can also be vomited up but these are flat and obviously segmented. If you are not sure what type of worm you are seeing, bring it to your vet’s office for identification.

Fecal testing for worm eggs is a must for kittens and a good idea for adult cats having their annual check up. Obviously, if there are worms present, they must be laying eggs in order to be detected but, by and large, fecal testing is a reliable method of detection.

There are two important concepts to keep in mind about deworming. Medications essentially anesthetize the worm so that it lets go of its grip on the host intestine and passes with the stool. Once it has been passed, it cannot survive in the environment and dies.

This means that you will likely see the worms when they pass so be prepared as they can be quite long and may still be alive and moving when you see them.

The other concept stems from the fact that larvae in migration cannot be killed by dewormers. After the worms are cleared from the intestine, they will be replaced by new worms completing their migration. This means that a second and sometimes even a third deworming is needed to keep the intestine clear. The follow-up deworming is generally given several weeks following the first deworming to allow for migrating worms to arrive in the intestine where they are vulnerable.

Do not forget your follow-up deworming.

What about Toxascaris Leonina?

The life cycle of Toxascaris leonina is not nearly as complicated. They do not migrate through the body in the way that Toxocara does. Instead, the Toxascaris second stage larva is consumed and simply matures in the intestine, a process that takes 2 to 3 months. Like Toxocara, Toxascaris can infect hosts of other species, though with Toxascaris the larvae can develop into third stage larvae in these other hosts while with Toxocara larval development is arrested in species other than cats.

 

Note: Toxascaris leonina can infect both dogs and cats alike.vRoundworms: Dogs & Puppies
 

 

Roundworms in Puppies and Dogs

There are two species of roundworms affecting dogs and puppies: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina. Both are treated with the same medication protocol so when eggs are seen on a fecal flotation exam, it is not necessary to determine which species is present.

HOW INFECTION OCCURS:

In dogs, there are four ways by which infection with Toxocara canis occurs:

  • Consuming infective worm eggs from soil in the environment (generally through normal grooming).
     
  • Nursing from an infected mother dog.
     
  • Consuming a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms.
     
  • During embryonic development when an infected mother dog is pregnant (most puppies are infected this way).

Note: cats cannot be infected with Toxocara canis.

adult Toxocara worms
 

LIFE AS A ROUNDWORM:

 

Toxocara canis has one of the most amazing life cycle in the animal kingdom. It is crucial to understand this life cycle if effective treatment is to be pursued.

 

STEP ONE: Toxocara eggs are passed in the host's feces. If a fecal sample is tested, the eggs can be detected. The embryonic worm develops in the outdoor environment inside its microscopic egg for one month before it becomes able to infect a new host. If environmental conditions are favorable, it takes about a month for the egg to become infective but Toxocara eggs are famous for weathering harsh environmental conditions. Eggs can remain infective for months to years. Note: Fresh feces are not infectious.

STEP TWO: The egg containing what is called a second stage larva is picked up by a dog or by some other animal. The egg hatches in the new host's intestinal tract and the young worm burrows its way out of the intestinal tract to encyst in the host's other body tissues. If the new host is a dog, the life cycle proceeds. If the new host is a member of another species, the larvae wait encysted until the new host is eaten by a dog.

STEP THREE: These second stage larvae can remain encysted happily for years. If the host is a dog, the larvae mostly encyst in the host's liver. When the time comes to move on, the larvae excyst and migrate to the host's lungs where they develop into third stage larvae. They burrow into the small airways and travel upward towards the host's throat. A heavy infection can produce a serious pneumonia. When they get to the upper airways, their presence generates coughing. The worms are coughed up into the host's throat where they are swallowed thus entering the intestinal tract for the second time in their development.

If the host is pregnant, the larvae do not migrate to the lung after they excyst; instead they home to the uterus and infect the unborn puppies. The second stage larvae make their way to the puppies lungs to develop into third stage larvae.

If the host is a nursing mother, second stage larvae can migrate to the mammary gland instead of the lung after excysting. Puppies can be infected by drinking their mother's milk, though, due to the intrauterine cycle described above, the litter would probably already be infected.

Note: When dogs are dewormed, this affects only worms in the intestinal tract. It does not affect encysted larvae. It is very difficult to prevent mother to puppy transmission and routine deworming is not adequate.

STEP FOUR: Once back in the intestine, the larvae complete their maturation and begin to mate. The first eggs are laid about one week after the fourth stage larvae have arrived in the intestine and about 4 to 5 weeks after infection has first occurred. From here the cycle repeats.

WHY IS INFECTION BAD?

Roundworm infection can have numerous negative effects. It is a common cause of diarrhea in young animals and can cause vomiting as well. Sometimes the worms themselves are vomited up which can be alarming as they can be quite large which females reaching lengths of up to seven inches. The worms consume the host's food and can lead to unthriftiness and a classical pot-bellied appearance. Very heavy infections can lead to pneumonia as the worms migrate and, if there are enough worms, the intestine can actually become obstructed.

It should also be noted that human infection by this parasite is especially serious . It is important to minimize the contamination of environmental soil with the feces of infected animals so as to reduce the exposure hazard to both humans and other animals.

HOW DO WE KNOW IF OUR DOG IS INFECTED?

You may not know and this is one of the arguments in favor of regular deworming. Regular deworming is especially recommended for dogs that hunt and might consume the flesh of hosts carrying worm larvae. Puppies are frequently simply assumed to be infected and automatically dewormed.

Toxocara egg
 

 

Of course, there are ways to find out if your dog is infected. If a dog or puppy vomits up a worm, there is a good chance this is a roundworm (especially in a puppy). Roundworms are long, white and described as looking like spaghetti. Tapeworms can also be vomited up but these are flat and obviously segmented. If you are not sure what type of worm you are seeing, bring it to your veterinarian's office for identification.

Fecal testing for worm eggs is a must for puppies and a good idea for adult dogs having their annual check up. Obviously, if there are worms present, they must be laying eggs in order to be detected but, by and large, fecal testing is a reliable method of detection.

There are two important concepts to keep in mind about deworming. Medications essentially anesthetize the worm so that it lets go of its grip on the host intestine and passes with the stool. Once it has been passed, it cannot survive in the environment and dies.

This means that you will likely see the worms when they pass, so be prepared as they can be quite long and may still be alive and moving when you see them.

The other concept stems from the fact that larvae in migration cannot be killed by any of these products. After the worms are cleared from the intestine, they will be replaced by new worms completing their migration. This means that a second, and sometimes even a third deworming is needed to keep the intestine clear. The follow-up deworming is generally given several weeks following the first deworming to allow for migrating worms to arrive in the intestine where they are vulnerable. Do not forget your follow-up deworming.

WHAT ABOUT TOXASCARIS LEONINA?

The life cycle of Toxascaris leonina is not nearly as complicated. They do not migrate through the body in the way that Toxocara does. Instead, the Toxascaris second stage larva is consumed and simply matures in the intestine, a process which takes 2 to 3 months. Like Toxocara, Toxascaris can infect hosts of other species, though with Toxascaris the larvae can develop into third stage larvae in these other hosts while with Toxocara larval development is arrested in species other than the dog.

 

Note: Toxascaris leonina can infect both dogs and cats alike.


 

Whipworms in Dogs and Cats

 Whipworms
 

 

(Trichuris Vulpis and relatives)

 

The whipworm that affects dogs (Trichuris vulpis) is substantially smaller than the other worms (a mere 30-50 mm in length, about two inches maximum) and is rarely seen as it lives in the cecum (the part of the large intestine where the small and large intestine meet). The head (or more accurately, the digestive end of the worm) is skinny versus its stout tail (or reproductive end), which gives the worm a whip shape, hence the name.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the host’s digestive tract, food passes from mouth to esophagus to stomach to small intestine to large intestine to rectum and then to the outside world. This means the large intestine is one of the last stops for nutrients and by this point in the journey, nutrients have largely been broken down and absorbed. The large intestine (also called the colon) serves to absorb water, store fecal material, and provide a home for a spectacular number of bacteria that are able to digest leftover food. The large intestine is the home of the whipworm. The adult worms bite the tissue of the intestine, actually embedding their heads inside, and suck blood there.

Eggs are laid inside the large intestine and pass with the stool. Once in the outside world, the eggs require about 2 to 4 weeks to form embryos and become capable of infecting a new host. (This means that contaminated soil is the source of infection, not fresh feces.)

 

The new host is infected by consuming the egg, usually during grooming. The egg hatches in the small intestine releasing a larva. The larva dives into the local glandular tissue and after about a week emerges into the small intestine and is carried downstream into the large intestine with the digested food. Once in the cecum or large intestine, its permanent home, it embeds in the tissue there, and after a total 74 to 87 days from the time the egg was swallowed, the young whipworm is ready to mate.

A few whipworms generally do not pose a problem for the host but if large numbers of worms are embedding themselves in the large intestine tissue, tremendous inflammation can result leading to a bloody, gooey diarrhea. Usually there is not enough blood loss to be dangerous but the diarrhea readily becomes chronic and hard to control. A second syndrome of infection has emerged but is not well understood, this being symptoms mimicking those of Addison’s disease . Here, a waxing and waning weakness with inability to conserve salt ultimately creates a dehydration crisis. The syndrome mimics Addison’s disease in every way except that testing for Addison’s disease will be negative and deworming yields a complete recovery.

Because female whipworms only periodically lay eggs (whereas other female worms lay eggs continuously), a fecal sample tested may easily be negative for eggs. This makes the confirmation of a whipworm infection a challenge. It is common to deworm for whipworms if the symptoms are suggestive of the whipworm presence even if the fecal test is negative. Most common deworming agents do not work on whipworms so something special must be selected. The most common products are fenbendazole(Panacur®), and febantel (Drontal Plus®). Because of the long maturation cycle of young worms, a second deworming some 75 days or so after the first deworming is needed to fully clear the infection (easy to forget). Often another deworming in between these doses is recommended to further control the whipworm numbers.

Soil contaminated by whipworm eggs is contaminated for years. It is virtually impossible to remove the eggs from the soil or kill them. Happily, however, this is one pet intestinal parasite that is not readily transmissible to humans.

 

 

Feline Whipworm Infection

 

 

There are species of whipworms that can infect cats: Trichuris serrata in North America and Trichuris campanula in Europe. Cats are clean animals and fastidious around feces, and they rarely get infected. When they do, worm numbers are so small that symptoms hardly ever occur. Whipworms are more of an interesting incidental finding in cats when whipworm eggs happen to come up on a routine fecal check. In other words, feline whipworm infection is generally not considered to be much of a problem.
 

Date Published: 5/8/2004 2:33:00 PM
Date Reviewed/Revised: 9/24/2007

 



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