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Pet Health:
Intestinal Parasites

 

Coccidia (kok-sid'-i-uh) - A parasite of the small intestine.  Infection with coccidia is spread through stool or contaminated soil or water.  Commonly seen in the young puppy or kitten, especially if raised in a kennel environment or housed in a large group (as in an animal shelter).  Unlike "worms", this parasite is considered a "protozoan", and because of this, the body can often times mount an immune defense against it.  This usually occurs in adults.  The young pup and kitten usually develop diarrhea because of the immaturity of their immune systems. 
Diagnosis
is through microscopic examination of the stool sample. 
Treatment - Medication given by mouth at specific times during the parasites life cycle. 

Giardia (je-ar'-de-ah) - A protozoan parasite occurring in the small intestine. Giardia commonly spreads through contaminated water, and is common to see in the young puppy and kitten. 
Diagnosis
is through microscopic examination of a fresh stool sample.
Treatment - Medication given by mouth at specific times during the parasite's life cycle. 

Hookworms - A parasite of the small intestines.  Hookworms feed on the blood of the intestinal lining, and can cause diarrhea with or without blood in the stool.  Puppies and kittens are most susceptible to their affects, and  anemia (loss of the red blood cells) can occur, which can be life threatening.  In fact, if not detected and treated soon enough, the puppy or kitten may die from blood loss.  Sometimes blood transfusions are necessary to save the puppy or kitten.  Adult animals are more resistant to the blood loss effects of hookworms, but can still become anemic, and can die as a result. 
Spread
of this parasite is by eating stool or infected soil.
Diagnosis
is through microscopic examination of the stool.  
Treatment
- Medication given by mouth at specific times during the parasite's life cycle. 

Roundworms - A parasite of the small intestine.  This parasite most commonly affects puppies, resulting in diarrhea, but can occur in kittens and adult dogs and cats.  Pregnant dogs transfer this parasite to their offspring before giving birth.
Spread is also from eating stool or infected soil.   Roundworms feed on the nutrients in the intestinal tract, and can cause a bloated appearance in puppies and kittens.  Diarrhea is the most common symptom. 
Diagnosis
is through microscopic examination of the stool. 
Treatment
- Medication given by mouth at specific times during the parasite's life cycle.

Whipworms - This parasite commonly inhabits the large intestine of the dog and cat. Infection can result in signs of diarrhea relative to colitis.
Spread is through stool or infected soil. 
Diagnosis
is through microscopic examination of the stool sample.  Often times this parasite is very difficult to diagnose, as the eggs are infrequently produced. 
Treatment - Medication given by mouth at specific times during the parasite's life cycle.  If suspected in the patient, treatment can be done even if the parasite has not been detected in the stool.