*All Star French Bulldogs*
"De-Worming Information"

Be sure to de-worm your dogs. . . It's easy, inexpensive and it keeps your dogs healthy and happy!

Heartworms, Hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms can affect dogs and cats of any age Ė in fact, almost all puppies and kittens are born with certain types of worms! Worms in pets can cause a variety of clinical symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, anemia, a pot bellied appearance, and general un-thriftiness. They can also cause serious disease in people and death in pets. These articles below will describe the various intestinal worms and discuss why regular de-worming is important.

HeartWorms: (Dirofilaria immitis)
Infection & Prevention in Dogs  Veterinary Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.  Holly Nash, DVM, MS

Heartworms were first identified in the United States in 1847 and occurred most frequently on the seacoast in the southeastern United States. In recent years, heartworm disease has been found throughout the United States. The movement of infected animals that could serve as sources of infection for others is probably a significant contributing factor to heartworms spreading across North America. The actual number of infected dogs and cats in the United States is unknown.

What are heartworms?
Heartworms, Dirofilaria immitis, belong to the same class of worms as roundworms. In fact, they look a bit like roundworms, but that is where the similarity ends. Heartworms spend their adult life in the right side of the heart and the large blood vessels connecting the heart to the lungs.

Heartworms are found in dogs, cats, and ferrets. They also occur in wild animals such as California sea lions, foxes and wolves. They have rarely been found in people.

How do dogs become infected with heartworms?
Adult heartworms in the heart lay very tiny larvae called microfilariae, which then live in the bloodstream. These microfilariae enter a mosquito when it sucks blood from an infected animal. In 2-3 weeks, the microfilariae develop into larger larvae in the mosquito and migrate to the mosquito's mouth.

***There are more than 60 different species of mosquitoes that can transmit heartworms.
When the mosquito bites another animal, the larvae enter the animal's skin. The larvae grow and after about three months finish their migration to the heart, where they grow into adults, sometimes reaching a length of 14 inches. The time from when an animal was bitten by an infected mosquito until adult heartworms develop, mate, and lay microfilariae is about 6-7 months in dogs and 8 months in cats. (Remember this Ė it is important when we talk about diagnosis.)

Severely infected dogs can have up to several hundred heartworms in their hearts and vessels. Adult worms in dogs usually live up to 5-7 years. Thirty to eighty percent of infected dogs have microfilariae, and the microfilariae can live up to 2 years. Microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms unless they pass through a mosquito.

What damage do heartworms cause?
In dogs, the adult worms can obstruct the various large blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. Worms may also enter smaller vessels in the lung and obstruct those vessels, as well. In severe cases, called "caval syndrome" worms start to fill the right ventricle of the heart.

What are the signs of heartworm infection and how is it diagnosed?
Most dogs with heartworm infection do not show signs of disease. Some dogs may show decreased appetite, loss of weight, and listlessness. Often, the first sign of the disease is a cough. Animals with severe heartworm disease will start to show lack of endurance during exercise. Some will accumulate fluid in their abdomen (ascites) that makes them look pot-bellied. In rare situations in which animals have many adult worms, the animals may die of sudden heart failure.

Blood testing is performed to identify dogs infected with D. immitis. Because blood tests are not always accurate, we need to interpret test results in relation to the history and the symptoms the animal is showing. Radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound (echocardiography) are often performed to look for typical changes in the heart and lungs caused by D. immitis, and determine the severity of the infection. Changes include enlargement of the pulmonary artery and the right ventricle. Certain types of cells (eosinophils) may increase in the blood or secretions from the lungs in heartworm infections. These additional findings can all help support the diagnosis.

What tests are available to detect D. immitis infection in animals?
There are several blood tests used to detect heartworm infection. In the 1960's, before more sophisticated tests were available, heartworm testing involved looking for the microfilariae in a drop of blood on a microscope slide. A better test, the Knott's test, was developed to concentrate the microfilariae from a larger portion of blood through centrifuging it. This gave veterinarians a better chance of finding the microfilariae.

Later, filter tests became available. In these tests, the blood cells in the blood were lysed (broken) by a special agent that did not affect the microfilariae. The resulting liquid was then put through a very fine filter. The microfilariae were concentrated on the filter. The filter was stained and examined under the microscope for microfilariae.

Veterinarians soon recognized that some animals could have heartworm infections without having microfilariae in the blood. This occurs if only male worms are present or if the females are not laying microfilariae at the time of the test. It was obvious that better tests were needed.

Antigen testing:
Serologic tests were developed to identify antigens (small protein and carbohydrate components) of heartworms in the bloodstream. There are different varieties of this test. One of the most common types is called an ELISA test. Some test kits run one sample at a time and can be done right in your veterinarian's office. Others are designed to test multiple samples in large batches. This batch-type of test is generally performed by outside laboratories to which your veterinarian sends your dog's blood.

Although the antigen tests were much better than the filter test, we still could not identify all cases of heartworm infection because antigen tests will only be positive if adult female worms are present, since the antigen detected is from the worm's uterus. If the heartworms were not fully mature, or there were only male worms present, the antigen test result in infected animals would be falsely negative. This means the test result is negative when the animal is really infected.

Antibody testing :
Serologic tests have now been developed to detect antibodies (proteins made by the animal's body to fight off the 'invaders') against heartworms. This is the test most commonly used in cats. This test will be positive even if only one male worm is present. But this test has a downfall, too. Although it is very good at giving positive results when an infection is present, false positive tests are more common with this test than the antigen test. A false positive result means the test result is positive when no infection is present.

What is included in a good heartworm prevention program?
The best program for prevention of heartworm infection includes using preventives, performing routine heartworm testing, and reducing exposure to mosquitoes.

Every dog, whether indoor or outdoor, should be on a heartworm preventive.  A preventive should be given to all dogs. Remember that mosquitoes can get indoors, so even though your dog may not go outside, the dog is still susceptible.

Medications used to prevent heartworm infections are called preventives. The first thing to remember is that preventives are NOT used to kill the adult worms. Special drugs called adulticides must be used to kill the adults. These drugs will be discussed in the treatment sections. Some preventives can cause severe problems if given to animals with adult heartworms or microfilariae. Follow the recommendations of your veterinarian and the manufacturer of your preventive in regard to testing prior to giving the preventive.

A number of monthly heartworm preventives for dogs are on the market. Some heartworm preventives, or drugs that are combined with them, will control other parasites. Preventive products should be used year-round, even in areas where mosquitoes only occur seasonally. Even if doses are accidentally skipped, preventive products are still beneficial to the pet. If given consistently over a 12-month period, it's possible to actually stop worms from developing into adults. Also, monthly heartworm preventives have activity against intestinal parasites, which inadvertently infect three to six million people every year. These preventives protect pets and people.

When and how often pets should be tested for heartworm infection is a matter of debate. In making a decision on when to test, we must consider how common heartworm disease is where the pet lives, what heartworm preventive the pet is receiving, and how long the mosquito season lasts.

The American Heartworm Society (AHS) advises all adult dogs being started on a heartworm preventive for the first time should be tested. In addition, all dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection. In the past, if a dog had been on preventive methods routinely, it was not considered necessary to test every year, perhaps only every two to three years. Because of reports of animals on preventives that still contracted heartworms, the AHS recommends a more conservative testing routine. It may be too difficult to document when an animal hasn't been checked in three years, and therefore, annual testing will ensure that an infection is caught in plenty of time to effectively manage it.

Switching Prevention Methods Requires Additional Testing - Dogs should be tested for heartworm if they are going to be switched from one preventive product to another. Pet owners sometimes switch between prevention medications, for any number of reasons. In these instances, there are specific time periods at which the pet should be retested to ensure the pet is protected.

Testing puppies: In areas where heartworm preventives are given seasonally, a puppy that was not alive during the previous mosquito season would not have to be tested. For instance, in northern Wisconsin, puppies born in January do not need to be tested prior to starting them on heartworm preventive in the spring. Remember, any puppy less than 6.5 months old is probably going to have a negative antigen test, since any larvae the pup was exposed to would not have had time to mature and be detected by the antigen test.

Mosquito control:
Reducing the exposure of a pet to mosquitoes can help prevent them from even being exposed to heartworm larvae. For detailed information on mosquito control, see Mosquito Control and Preventing Diseases They Transmit.

How is heartworm infection (dog already has heart worms) treated?
The first adulticide (drug to kill the adult heartworms) for dogs that was developed was thiacetarsamide sodium (Caparsolate®), which contained arsenic. It was given in the vein through a catheter. If any drug got outside of the vein, severe tissue damage was possible. Some animals became quite ill from this drug, and therapy sometimes had to be stopped. Almost all animals had to be hospitalized for the several days of treatment.

Melarsomine (Immiticide®), the medication currently used to treat heartworm infection, also contains arsenic. It is given by injection deep in the muscles of the back instead of intravenously. It is less likely to cause side effects than thiacetarsamide and is more effective.

The treatment protocol depends on the severity of infection. In less severe cases, the dog may be treated for four months with a heartworm preventive to kill any migrating heartworm larvae and to decrease the size of the female worms. Then an injection of melarsomine is given to kill the adult heartworms. Five weeks later, the dog is treated with two more injections of the adulticide. Four months after the treatment, the dog should be tested for heartworms using the antigen test. Some animals may need to undergo a second round of injections if repeat antigen tests remain positive. It is recommended that dogs remain on a monthly heartworm preventive during the treatment. In severe cases, it may be necessary to use the adulticide before the four months of heartworm preventive are given.

Regardless of which drug is used, when the adult heartworms die, they can obstruct blood vessels to the lungs (these are called pulmonary embolisms). If only a small part of the lung is involved, there may be no clinical signs. However, if the vessels to a large portion of the lung, or a small area of an already diseased lung are blocked, severe signs may result. These include fever, cough, coughing up blood, and even heart failure. Because of the risk of these embolisms, any dog being treated with an adulticide must be kept very quiet during treatment and for at least 4 weeks thereafter.

In very severe infestations, adult worms are removed from the heart surgically.

Can humans be infected with heartworms?
Yes, there have been instances of heartworm infection in people. Instead of migrating to the heart, the larvae migrate to the lungs in humans. There the larvae can block vessels causing an infarction. At the site of the infarction, a nodule develops which can be seen on radiographs. Usually, the person has few, if any signs of infection. Surgical removal of the nodule is sometimes necessary.

All Star Note: Thankfully every test we have ever done to any and every one of our dogs have always been HEARTWORM NEGATIVE, even on older dogs who weren't given prevention for 2 years. Call us lucky or what have you, but these worms are nasty... more photos below:

Canine Heart Infected with 
Level 5 Heartworms

****Warning: Because of reports of adverse reactions, the FDA pulled the ProHeart6 Injectable Heartworm Preventative from the Market: see the advisory at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2004/ANS01312.html

Please do NOT ever use this on your dog. More is not better, especially with medicines for our pets. The attempt to give all this medicine intended for 6 months at one time only proved FATAL to many dogs... thank GOD we never used this.

Hookworms (Anycylostoma caninum)

Adult Hookworms live in the small intestines of dogs, and are picked up either through the ingestion of infective larvae from soil or vegetation that has been contaminated by feces, or through ingestion of larvae found in the mothers milk as puppies are nursing. Hookworms survive by sucking large amounts of blood from the intestinal lining, and can cause severe anemia, especially in very young puppies or in animals with very large numbers of worms. Larvae that infect a dog may also migrate through the body tissues rather than maturing in the gut and become dormant Ė these worms may be reactivated at any time and travel to the gut, or to the mammary glands.

What are hookworms?
Hookworms are parasites which get their name from the hook-like mouth parts they use to attach to the intestinal wall. They are only about 1/8" (3 mm) long and very thin. They are so small in diameter that you have to be looking very carefully to see them. Despite their small size, they suck large amounts of blood from the tiny vessels in the intestinal wall.  Since they are "bloodsuckers", 300 adult worms can drain 10% of the pet's blood per day. A large number of hookworms can cause anemia. This can cause extreme stress or even death of the pet. This problem is most common in puppies, but it will occasionally occur in adult dogs. In general, dogs tend to harbor very few hookworms compared to the number carried by infected dogs.

What are the signs of Hookworm infestation?
Signs may include any or all of the following:  Inapparent infestations; nonspecific diarrhea; dark black (tarry) diarrhea; bloody diarrhea; vomiting; poor or no appetite, pale mucous membranes in the mouth and generalized pallor; weakness, emaciation and poor growth. Anemia can be so severe as to cause death.

How did my dog get hookworms?
Dogs may become infected with hookworms by four routes: orally, through the skin, through the mother's placenta before birth, and through the mother's milk. Kittens or puppies may be born with Hookworms! Hookworm larva are tiny enough to migrate through the placental blood supply to the fetal lungs. Soon after birth, the juvenile Hookworms are coughed up and swallowed. They then mature in the small intestine; attach to the intestinal wall and begin sucking blood and laying eggs. A second source of infection is through the mother's milk - Hookworm larva can gain entry into the mammary glands and be passed to the puppies or kittens as they nurse. The larva then mature in the intestine to form blood sucking adults.

A dog may become infected when it swallows hookworm larvae (immature worm). The larvae may also penetrate the skin and migrate to the intestine to mature and complete its life cycle. If a pregnant dog has hookworms, the pregnancy may reactivate larvae. These larvae will enter the female's circulation and pass to the puppy through the placental blood flow. Finally, puppies may become infected through the mother's milk. This is considered to be an important route of infection for puppies.

What are they?
If you look at the picture to the right you will notice that the "business end" of the Hookworm is shaped like a tiny goblet with three sets of teeth.  The goblet-shaped mouth is very hard and resists collapse as the worm sucks. The Hookworm grasps onto the inner surface of the small intestine with the teeth and then pierces a blood vessel. An anti-coagulant saliva-like substance is released which prevents the blood from clotting.  Each hookworm can suck 0.1cc of blood per day. If they release the wound continues to bleed.

What kinds of problems do hookworms cause for my dog?
The most significant problems appear related to intestinal distress and anemia. Blood loss results from the parasites sucking blood from intestinal capillaries. The presence of pale gums, diarrhea, or weakness might suggest the need to specifically determine the dog's red blood cell count. Some dogs experience significant weight loss, bloody diarrhea, or failure to grow properly with hookworm infection.
Skin irritation and itching can be one of the common signs of a heavily infested environment. The larvae burrow into the skin and cause the dog a great deal of itching and discomfort.

How is hookworm infection diagnosed?
Hookworms are diagnosed with a microscopic examination of a small stool sample. Since there are so many eggs produced on a daily basis, they are rather easily detected. One adult female hookworm is reported to produce as many as 20,000 eggs a day!
In puppies, large numbers of worms usually must be present before eggs are shed into the stool. For this reason, fecal examination may be less reliable in very young puppies than in adult dogs.

How are the hookworms treated?
There are several very effective drugs that will kill hookworms. These are given by injection or orally and have few, if any, side-effects. However, these drugs only kill the adult hookworms. Therefore, it is necessary to treat again in about 2-4 weeks to kill any newly formed adult worms that were larvae at the time of the first treatment.

It is easy to get rid of Hookworms.  Just give any effective oral wormer.   My favorite is any brand with pyrantel pamoate as the active ingredient.  This is generally well tolerated by the pet, safe and effective. If the animal is severely anemic, blood transfusions and supportive care may be required.  It is best to worm breeding female dogs and cats before breeding and again 3, 6 and 9 weeks after whelping.  Juveniles migrating through the body will not be killed by conventional wormers.  This is why we like to worm puppies and kittens twice three weeks apart and then check a fecal specimen three weeks later. This allows all migrating juveniles to reach the intestine where they are easily killed. Since Hookworm eggs and larva build up in damp soil, often times the dogs tied out on dirt or in soil runs need to be moved to a non-infested area to prevent reinfection.  If this is impossible and the pet keeps becoming reinfected, I suggest keeping the dog on Filaribits Plus (a daily heartworm preventative with a low level wormer included which kills Hookworms, Roundworms and Whipworms) for a year or more while the Hookworm larva and eggs die off.  Concrete surfaced runs or runs with deep pebble coverings allow the surface to dry allowing sunlight to kill the larvae. Fecal Examinations: Young dogs and cats should have a fecal floatation done twice a year to detect Hookworm eggs.

A blood transfusion may be necessary in some dogs because of the rather severe anemia which can be produced.

Since the dog's environment can be laden with hookworm eggs and larvae, it may be necessary to treat it with a chemical to kill them. There are some available that are safe to use on grass.

Are canine hookworms infectious to people?
Adult hookworms do not infect humans; however, the larvae can burrow into human skin. This causes itching, commonly called ground itch, but the worms do not mature into adults. Direct contact of human skin to moist, hookworm infested soil is required. Fortunately, this does not occur very often if normal hygiene practices are observed.

In rare instances, the canine hookworm will penetrate into deeper tissues and partially mature in the human intestine. A few reports of hookworm enterocolitis (small and large intestinal inflammation) have occurred in the recent past.

What can be done to control hookworm infection in dogs and to prevent human infection?
1. All pups should be de-wormed initially at 10days to 2 weeks old, repeated every 2 weeks up to 16 weeks and then adult schedule.
2. Prompt deworming should be given when parasites are detected.
3. Prompt disposal of dog feces should occur, especially in yards, playgrounds, and public parks.
4. Strict hygiene is important, especially for children. Do not allow children to play in potentially contaminated environments.
5. Nursing females should be treated concurrently with their pups; nursing may reactivate infection in the female.
6. Most heartworm prevention products contain a drug that will prevent hookworm infections. However, these products will not kill the adult hookworms, so dogs must be treated for adult hookworms first.

Why dogs are kept off of beaches?
You may have figured it out already.  Hookworm larvae love warm, damp, sandy soil!  If a Hookworm infested dog deficates on a beach the eggs soon hatch and the larvae enter the sand.  When a human lies on such a spot the Hookworm larva can penetrate the intact skin just as it happens in the dog or cat. Since we are an unnatural host, the larva never make it to the intestine to become blood-sucking adults.  They just move around a bit under the skin, die and cause a nasty inflammatory reaction.  The result?  We get itchy little red bumps on our skin which may form scabs.  In the old days, when houses had crawl spaces under them, the pets would often deficate under the house.  When the plumber worked on the piping under the house he soon found little itchy bites all over his skin. For this reason, human infection is sometimes called the "plumbers itch".    Other names include "creeping eruption" or the more scientific name "cutaneous larva migrans".  A good reason for keeping dogs off beaches and out of sand boxes and gardening areas.

These parasites live in the small intestine of the host (dog, people, etc)
sucking and ingesting blood through the intestine wall as shown below:

Hookworms equals= ***NASTY BLOOD SUCKERS***
Not just a canine disease... Hookworms are thought to infect 800 million people worldwide.

Adult Roundworms (Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina)

Roundworms, often called 'ascarids,' are the most common parasite of the digestive tract in dogs and cats. Most puppies are infested with roundworms and when we look at the life cycle, we will understand why. All of these roundworms are widely distributed in North America. They are of considerable importance in young animals and in kennels. Because they can cause disease in humans, they are also very important to our health as well. An average-sized dog passes 136 grams of feces daily and it is known that a dog with a "light" roundworm infection may pass 10,000 eggs in every gram of stool. If 12% of the 80 million dogs in America have "light" infections, 1,300 metric tons of dog feces containing 13 trillion roundworm eggs are discharged in the streets and lands of America every day!! In different surveys, 0.3 - 15% of soil samples and 7 - 31% of house yards or children's sandboxes contained roundworm eggs.

Even birds and reptiles can have roundworms, although they are a different genus and species than those found in dogs and cats.
The adult roundworms all live in the small intestine of the host and their eggs look very similar. All the roundworms are prolific and an infested animal can pass millions of eggs in the feces each day. The roundworms differ, however, in their life cycles. These differences are very important when we look at how we can eliminate these parasites from our pets.

What are the life cycles of the roundworms in dogs and cats?

There are 3 types of roundworms that affect dogs and cats and each has transport hosts.
Roundworm Primary Host Transport Host
Toxascaris leonina  Dog, cat, fox, and other wild carnivores  Small rodents 
Toxocara canis Dog, fox Small rodents 
Toxocara cati Cat  Small rodents, beetles, earthworms 

T. leonina:
Of the roundworms, T. leonina has the simplest life cycle. After an animal ingests infective eggs, the eggs hatch and the larvae mature within the small intestine. The adult female worm lays eggs which are passed in the feces. The eggs become infective after remaining in the environment for at least 3-6 days. Animals become infected if they eat something contaminated with infected feces.
Mice can act as intermediate or transport hosts of T. leonina. The rodent ingests the eggs, the eggs hatch, and the larvae migrate through the tissues of the rodent. If a carnivore eats the mouse, the larvae are released in the digestive system of the carnivore and develop into adults in the intestine.
T. canis:
Roundworms of the species T. canis have a more complicated life cycle and a very effective way of making sure its species will be passed from generation to generation. Let us take a look.

Most puppies are born infected with T. canis.
An animal can acquire a T. canis infection several ways: ingestion of eggs, ingestion of a transport host, or by larvae entering the animal while in the uterus or through the milk. First let us follow the ingestion of infective eggs.

Photos of stool infested with roundworms (yuck)

Ingestion of eggs: After a dog eats the eggs, they hatch, and the larvae enter the wall of the small intestine. The larvae migrate through the circulatory system and either go to the respiratory system or other organs or tissues in the body. If they enter body tissues, they can encyst (become walled off and inactive). They can remain encysted in tissues for months or years. This is the migration most commonly seen in older dogs. In very young puppies, larvae move from the circulation to the respiratory system, are coughed up and swallowed. The arvae mature into adults. The adult worms lay eggs which pass out of the animal in the feces. The eggs need to remain in the environment 10-14 days before they become infective.

Ingestion of transport host: If an animal ingests a transport host having encysted larvae, the migration is similar to that of ingesting infective eggs. Larvae are released from the transfer host when it is eaten and digested. The larvae enter the circulation and either go to various tissues or the respiratory system.

Mothers and Puppies:

Larvae through the uterus: A pregnant dog that has T. canis encysted larvae in her tissues can pass them to her puppies in two ways. The larvae that were dormant in her tissues can migrate through the uterus and placenta and infect the fetus. This is called in utero transmission. The larvae enter the lungs of the fetal pup. When the pup is born, the pup will cough up the larvae and they will mature in the pup's intestine. This is why so many puppies have roundworms Ė they are infected before they are born.

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 motherís milk, though, due to the intrauterine cycle described above, the litter would probably already be infected from the mothers womb.

Larvae through the milk: Larvae can also enter the femaleís mammary tissues. The puppies can become infected through the milk while nursing. The swallowed larvae mature in the pup's intestine. If the larvae are passed out in the pupís feces before they can mature, they can infect the mother when she licks her pup.

About 4 weeks after a dog eats an infective egg or a puppy with a prenatal infection is born, the adult worm has matured in the animal's intestine and the next generation of eggs is passed which is why de-worming puppies at 10 days to 2 weeks is essential.

Note: When dogs are dewormed with traditional dewormers, 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. It is possible to prevent infection in unborn puppies by using a specific daily protocol of fenbendazole (Panacur) or Pyrantel Pamoate (Strongid-T) ask your veterinarian for details.

Nursing Dams: De-worm at the same time as puppies. Not many people know this, but for as long as you have the mother nursing on the pups DE-WORM her too along with the puppies!

T. cati:
In some ways, the life cycle of T. cati is similar to that of T. canis. The infective eggs are swallowed. The larvae hatch and penetrate the stomach wall. From there the larvae migrate through the liver, other tissues, and lungs. Some larvae may encyst in the tissues. Larvae that enter the lungs are coughed up and swallowed. The larvae mature in the stomach and small intestine, and the adult female worms start laying eggs.

Unlike T. canis, in utero infection does not occur with T. cati. However, during the perinatal period dormant larvae in the queen can start to migrate and can be passed from the mammary tissues to the young kittens through the milk.

Mice can serve as intermediate hosts for T. cati in a manner similar to the other roundworms. Cats can also become infected by eating other transport hosts such as earthworms and beetles.

The table below helps summarize the ways the different roundworms are transmitted:

Eggs, through Ingestion
Larvae, through the milk
Larvae, across the placenta
Larvae, by ingestion of transport or intermediate host
T. leonina
T. canis
T. cati

Remember, for all roundworms, the eggs need to remain in the environment for days to weeks before they become infective. Larvae encysted in the hostís tissues can remain dormant there for the hostís lifetime.

How do roundworms cause disease in pets?
In the intestine, roundworms absorb nutrients from what the animal eats, interfere with digestion, and can damage the lining of the intestine. Animals with mild infestations of roundworms may not show any signs of disease. Animals with more severe infestations may be thin, have dull hair coats, and develop a pot-bellied appearance. Some may become anemic and have vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Rarely, in severe infestations, the roundworms can cause obstruction of the intestines. A cough may be observed in some animals due to the migration of the larvae through the respiratory system. In young puppies the migration of the T. canis larvae in the lungs can cause pneumonia.

How are roundworm infestations in pets diagnosed?
Adult worms are usually 3-4 inches long, although some T. canis roundworms can be up to 7 inches. Adults may be seen in the feces or vomit. The worms are round on cross-section (hence the catchy name) and look a bit like spaghetti.

An individual T. canis female worm can produce 200,000 eggs per day.
The eggs are identified in the feces. A flotation solution is used to separate the eggs from the rest of the stool, and the resulting sample is examined microscopically. Very slight differences in appearance of the eggs of the three roundworms can allow experienced persons to distinguish between them.

Surprise! Occasionally we will see eggs of T. cati in dog stool. How could that happen? The dog has made a raid on the cat's litter box and has eaten cat feces. The eggs pass through the digestive system of the dog and are found in its stool.

How are roundworm infestations in pets treated?
There are many wormers that kill roundworms. Most wormers, however, kill the adult worms but do not affect the migrating or encysted larvae. This is why most manufacturers of wormers advise repeating the worming 2-4 weeks after the first treatment. By that time, most larvae that were migrating during the first treatment have come back to the intestine where they can be killed by the second treatment.

Regular deworming is recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).

Puppy De-Worming:  Initiate treatment: 10days to  2 weeks; repeat at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, & 16 weeks of age, and then put on a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites. Using a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product decreases the risk of parasites.

Adult Dogs:
If not on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 2-4 times per year and treat appropriately. If on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed once per year to make sure dog is clean and then treat appropriately. Also monitor and eliminate parasites in pet's environment.

Newly Acquired Animals:
Worm immediately, after 2 weeks, and then follow above recommendations.
*Newly acquired puppies should obtain the deworming history of their new pet from the breeder and continue de-wormings as above.

How can I prevent my pet from becoming reinfected?
Fecal exams can help detect what parasites a pet may have and how the pet should be treated. A fecal examination should be performed at the time the puppies are weaned, 4-8 weeks after the last treatment of an infestation, and before females are bred. A fecal exam should also be performed at a pet's annual exam and up to 3 or more additional times per year depending on the risk of exposure, the parasite control program being used, etc. The appropriate deworming schedule for your dog should be developed in consultation with your veterinarian, taking into account factors such as risk of exposure, immune status of family members, etc.

Many heartworm preventives such as Heartgard Plus and Interceptor treat or control infections with roundworms and are an important addition to a roundworm prevention program. Look at your preventive package to check its efficacy against roundworms.

The eggs of roundworms are extremely resistant to environmental conditions and can remain infective in the soil for months to years. Pets need to be discouraged from ingesting soil or anything contaminated with infective eggs. Because of the zoonotic potential of roundworms, and to protect your pet and others, all sources of infection should be reduced. For a discussion of cleaning the environment, see the section further below.

How do roundworms cause disease in humans?
T. canis and T. cati pose a significant health hazard to people. Thousands of people become infected with Toxocara in the United States every year. How do people become infected? Humans become infected when they ingest infective eggs from the soil or from their hands or another object. Large numbers of the eggs can accumulate in the soil where dogs and cats are allowed to defecate. The eggs are sticky, and can collect on the hands and under the fingernails of people. Children, and others who may not have good hygiene, are most prone to becoming infected.

Remember, Toxocara eggs need to be in the environment approximately two weeks, before becoming infective, so direct contact with an infected animal generally does not result in transmission. However, young animals may continually contaminate their entire litter area, and may even have infective eggs stuck to their coats. Adults and children who handle the mother or the young or who clean the area may be especially at risk.

If a human ingests Toxocara eggs, the subsequent larvae can migrate through the personís tissues. This condition is called 'visceral larva migrans.' The larvae most commonly migrate through the liver, lungs, and brain. They can cause severe inflammation and actual mechanical damage to the organs. Signs of this disease include an enlarged liver, intermittent fever, loss of weight and appetite, and a persistent cough. Asthma or pneumonia may develop.

A unique form of this disease is called 'ocular larva migrans.' Larvae migrate through the eyes and can cause vision loss or even blindness. Ocular larva migrans usually occurs in children 7-8 years old, whereas, visceral larva migrans occurs in children ages 1-4 years. The reason for the difference among ages is unknown.

To prevent human infection, good hygiene is extremely important. Teach children, especially, to wash their hands after playing and before eating. Do not let children play in areas where dogs or cats may have defecated. Cats should not be allowed to use sandboxes or the garden as litter boxes. Worm your pets as recommended, keep the environment clean, and control rodent populations.

How do I eliminate roundworms from my breeding animals?
A good roundworm control program should be established for all kennels. The main sources of infection are larvae in the females, eggs in the environment, and larvae in the tissues of transport hosts. All of these need to be addressed in a good control program.

Medical Treatment and Isolation: It is very difficult to eliminate encysted larvae from female dogs and cats in an attempt to prevent transmission to their offspring. It requires isolation of animals and repeated treatment of the mothers through multiple generations to prevent reinfection and reduce and finally eliminate larvae in the tissues. Breeders should consult with their veterinarians to determine the best parasite control program for their kennel.

Treating the Environment:
Floors in kennels and dog runs should be impervious so they are easier to clean. All fecal material should be removed, since organic material will decrease the effectiveness of cleaning solutions. A 20% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 4 parts of water) should be sprayed or mopped on the area. This should be done on at least a weekly basis. This will not kill the eggs, but will strip off their sticky outer layer and make them easier to remove.

Any feces in yards should be picked up on a daily basis. If soil becomes contaminated, about the only alternative is to remove it and replace it, or turn it over to the depth of  8-12 inches.

Since mice and other rodents can serve as transport hosts, their control is important. Remember that mouse and rat poisons are poisons for dogs, cats, and other animals as well. If using one of these products, follow the manufacturer's recommendations and prevent access by your pets. Pets should be prevented from scavenging and preying on wildlife.

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 hostís food and can lead to unthriftiness and a classical ďpot-belliedĒ 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 (see below). 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.
Proper De-worming & hygiene protocol will prevent these infestations.

More roundworms:


Adult Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum and the Taeniia family)

Tapeworms look like a piece of rice on the stool but not in it, or sometimes seen sticking like little white eggs to the dogs anus. Tapeworms live in the intestines of dogs and cats, and are picked up either through the ingestion of rabbits, rodents or other small animals which have infective cysts in their tissues, or through the ingestion of fleas carrying the infective stage of the tapeworm (depending on the type of tapeworm). Eggs or tapeworm segments are passed in the feces.

There are a few different varieties of Tapeworms. Fleas carry tapeworms, so if your dog has fleas, or had fleas, there is a good chance he could have tapeworms.   If the dog eats the flea when chewing his coat  he could have tapeworms.

Standard wormer doesn't  kill tapeworms, so a stronger wormer is needed. Many Vets recommend worming for tapeworm every 6-12months.

Like roundworms, people can also get tapeworms, people can get tapeworms from ingesting a flea from a dog, and that is not hard, considering a flea is so small, it could easily land on your plate, or your hand and be ingested un-noticed. A tapeworm is not as dangerous to a dog, it is referred to by some as the smart parasite, but it can be dangerous to people causing serious liver disease.

The tapeworm actually consists of many white segments, joined together like a tape. They tape together and can get to be several feet long. Then they drop off to multiply. It is the segments that are seen as they shed. These segments contain the eggs, they look like wiggling grains of rice.

Photos of  whole Tapeworms:

Photos of  Tapeworm segments in dogs stool and fur:


Adult Whipworms  (Trichuris vulpis, Trichuris campanula)

Whipworms are common in dogs and found throughout the United States. Trichuris serrata may rarely be found in cats. Whipworms get their name from the whip-like shape of the adult worms. The front portion of the worm is very thin (the whip) and the posterior end is thick (whip handle). Whipworms live in the large intestine and cecum (a small 'dead-end' portion of intestine lying at the junction of the small intestine and large intestine).

How are whipworms transmitted and how is whipworm infection diagnosed?
A dog or cat becomes infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with whipworm eggs. The eggs are swallowed, hatch, and in a little less than three months, the larvae mature into adults in the cecum and large intestine where they burrow their mouths into the intestinal wall and feed on blood. Adult worms lay eggs that are passed in the feces. The eggs must remain in the soil for about a month to mature and be capable of causing infection.

An infection is diagnosed by finding the eggs in the feces. The eggs must be differentiated from those of the bladder worm (Capillaria plica, Capillaria felis cati) and C. aerophilia, a parasite of the respiratory system, but whose eggs may be found in the feces. The female worms do not produce eggs every day, and the egg numbers are usually small, so repeat fecal exams may be necessary to find the eggs.

What are the signs of whipworm infection?
The signs of infection vary with the number of worms in the intestine. Small numbers of worms cause no signs, but larger numbers can result in inflammation of the intestinal wall. Large amounts of mucus are produced by the inflamed intestine. Sometimes hemorrhage into the intestine occurs, and anemia can result. Animals may have diarrhea and loss of weight. Infestations are usually light, so an examination of feces may not reveal the presence of eggs. Several checks may be necessary before a definitive diagnosis can be made.

Are whipworms a health hazard to people?
There have been reports of people being infected with T. vulpis. Humans are much more often infected with T. trichiura, the human whipworm.

How is a whipworm infection treated?
With a dosage of wormer such as PANACUR. Ask your Vet.

How do we prevent and control whipworm infections?
Whipworm eggs are very resistant and can live in soil for years, even resisting freezing. Because of this, animals should be restricted from contaminated areas. There is no effective method for killing whipworm eggs in the soil. The only alternative is to replace the soil with new soil, gravel, and pavement. To prevent exposure, any feces in the yard should be picked up on a daily basis.

Floors in kennels and dog runs should be impervious so they are easier to clean. Kennels, runs, and litter boxes should be cleaned thoroughly, and if possible, be allowed to dry in direct sunlight.

Routine fecal examinations and deworming can help control this widespread parasite.

Because of the possible zoonotic potential of T. vulpis, care should be taken when cleaning, and people should wear gloves and wash their hands well after these duties.

Human Health Risk
Associated with Dog and Cat Worms:
In truth, although many animals with worms donít have any problems from them, there are some very serious human diseases that are associated with dog and cat worms. Hookworm larvae can burrow under the skin of people if their bare skin comes in contact with them (for example in a sandbox or the garden) Ė this is known as Cutaneous Larva Migrans (CLM), and causes red, irritated and inflamed skin lesion. Roundworm larvae can migrate uncontrolled though the body tissues of people after they ingest infected eggs from handling contaminated soil or eating unwashed fruits and vegetables. These larvae can end up in an organ in the body, including the eyes and the brain, which can be fatal. This is known as Visceral Larva Migrans (VLM). Tapeworms from dogs and cats can cause tapeworm infection in people, but they can also cause large cysts in the liver, brain or other organs that can lead to serious disease. This is known as Hydatid disease, and can occur if eggs from contaminated soil are eating, or if a flea is accidentally ingested. Children are most at risk for these diseases, due to lack of hygiene. Many children play in areas that are commonly contaminated with dog and cat feces, including sandboxes, gardens, lawns, etc, and often pick up larvae or eggs on their hands or feet while playing, which are then ingested accidentally. A study conducted at the IWK Hospital for Children in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada showed that about 25.6% of children between 7 to 15 years old had antibodies against dog roundworms, which means that their bodies had been exposed at some point to these animal parasites.

How do I know if my pet has worms?
The fact is, most of the time, you donít! Dogs and cats can be infected with large numbers of worms and you may not even know it. However, most puppies and kittens are born with, or become infected shortly after birth with worms, and since worm eggs and larvae are common out in the environment, chances are any pet that has never been de-wormed is infected with at least one type of worm. Sometimes you can see evidence of worms in your pets, including long thin worms in their poop, tapeworm segments around their anus/tail, or a pot-bellied appearance, however in most cases you donít.

FINAL: How often should I de-worm my pet?
Routine or regular de-worming in dogs and cats not only helps prevent the development of parasites in your pet, but it also helps prevent the spread of these parasites to people. De-worming is something that should be done regardless of whether or not you see any evidence of worms, since dogs and cats can carry worms or pick them up at any time in their lives.

Most veterinary clinics recommend similar schedules, they may vary, however the key is regular, consistent de-worming, regardless of the age of the pet. One of the best ways to ensure that your pet is wormed consistently and effectively is to put them on heartworm medication that also kills most other types of worms. By giving this medication year round, you will never have to worry about heartworm, and your pet will be much less likely to harbor and spread other worms.

***All Star De-worming schedule***

These methods have worked well for us for the past 14 years, we have yet to have one of our dogs or puppies come down with Intestinal Parasites.

***What you do is up to you and your Vet***


Medications for Prevention and Treatment of Worms:
There are many different products out there that are used for de-worming dogs and cats, however it is important that you choose the correct product for the type of worms you are trying to treat, as all products donít necessarily kill all types of worms. Also remember the protocol for PREVENTION and for TREATMENT are different, so ask your Vet what to do if your dog already HAS WORMS.

*Collies and related breeds are known to have a sensitivity to ivermectin and similar medications. Consult your Veterinarian before using these products in a collie or herding breed.

Drug Name
Types of Worms
Strongid T /Pyran/ Nemex
(Pryantel Pamoate)
Roundworms and Hookworms
Drontal Plus
(Febantel + Praziquantel +Pryantel Pamoate)
Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms and Whipworms
(Milbemycin Oxime)
Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms and Heartworms
Flavor Tablets
Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms and Whipworms
Liquid & Tablets
Heart Worms
Beef Chewable Tablets
Heartgard Plus
(Ivermectin & Pryantel Pamoate)
Heart Worms
Roundworms and Hookworms
Beef Chewable Tablets
Tri-Heart Plus
(Ivermectin & Pryantel Pamoate)
Heart Worms
Roundworms and Hookworms
Chewable Tablets

****Warning: Because of reports of adverse reactions and THOUSANDS OF DEATHS, the FDA pulled the ProHeart6 Injectable Heartworm Preventative from the Market: see the advisory at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2004/ANS01312.html

Please do NOT ever use this on your dog. More is not better, especially with medicines for our pets. The attempt to give all this medicine intended for 6 months at one time only proved FATAL to many dogs... Thank GOD we never used this.
***What you use is up to you and your Vet***

Be Sure to de-worm all your dogs, it's easy, inexpensive
and it keeps your dogs healthy....

We make no claim of being Veterinarians, this page is for information ONLY, ask your Vet for his/her opinion and what is good FOR YOUR PET.....

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