What are parasites? A parasite is an organism that lives in or on a host and obtains its nourishment from the host. Intestinal parasites are dog parasites that live in the intestine of dogs and draw blood. Worms in dogs are a common problem. Some people think if their dog is found to have parasites in his stool, that he must be suffering from a disease state.
This is not always true. Most dogs are infested with intestinal parasites at one time or another. Some are born with them and others acquire them later in life. They develop a certain a mount of immunity when they recover. This helps to keep the worms in check.
We should distinguish a disease state from the presence of canine parasites. Not all dogs with parasites will suffer from symptoms of a disease.
If canine worms are causing disease, there will be some change in the appearance of the stool. This can be reflected by a decline in the general health of the dog. Symptoms of parasites are a loss of weight, decreased appetite, upset stomach, anemia, mucus and/or blood in the feces.
Most dogs are capable of developing a resistance to certain dog worms like those having a larvae phase which migrates in their tissues like dog roundworms, hookworms and threadworms. The effect is on the maturation cycle. Instead of becoming in the intestine, the larvae remain dormant as cysts in the tissues. Tapeworms and whipworms have no migratory stage and cause little build up of immunity.
Resistance to canine roundworms appears to be age related. Dogs over six months of age usually do not have a heavy infestation of worms. Ten or more worms are considered to be a heavy infestation. Dogs with worms can suffer from malnutriton.
Cortisone which is an immunosuppressive drug have been shown to activate large numbers of hookworm larvae lying dormant in the dog’s tissue. Stressful events such as surgery, trauma, severe disease, and emotional upset like shipping can activate dormant larvae. This leads to the appearance of parasites in dogs stool.
During pregnancy, roundworms and hookworm larvae are activated and migrate to the unborn puppies. Even when the mother has been wormed, a heavy parasite problem may appear in the puppies. This happens because none of the deworming agents are affective against larvae encysted in the tissue.
Different types of worms in dogs may require different medications. If your puppy is diagnosed with more than one type, ask your vet about a medication that will protect against more than one parasite at a time.
If your puppy goes outside for any length of time, more than likely it will pick up worms sometime in its life.