Intestinal Parasites: The Squirm-Worthy Side of Living With Dogs

So How Do You Prevent or Treat These Parasites?

If you suspect your dog may have parasites, schedule an exam and fecal test with your veterinarian — both for your dog’s and your family’s sake. Worms are usually diagnosed by finding eggs when a stool sample is examined under a microscope.

Since dogs can be infected with worms without showing outward signs, the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends two to four fecal tests during a pup’s first year, then one to two fecal tests each of the following years.

Your veterinarian can give your dog medications to help clear the worms, but it’s always a good idea to recheck a fecal sample to make sure treatment was effective. As a precaution, puppies should be dewormed early to help prevent contaminating your yard and other areas.

Even so, it’s possible for dogs to have worms but show no evidence of eggs on the fecal exam. What’s more, some types of parasite eggs can live for years in the outdoors and are often found in playgrounds and parks frequented by dogs. So year-round parasite prevention is important. Many heartworm products, for example, also contain medications to help eliminate these worms.

You can also help prevent intestinal worms by picking up and disposing of feces promptly before they can contaminate the environment. Eggs in fresh feces usually aren’t infective yet, but you should always wash your hands after handling stools as a precaution.

Your veterinarian can recommend a parasite control program that will help protect all your family members, including the furry ones.

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