What is. . .

Coccidia-

Coccidia are single-celled organisms that infect the intestine. They are microscopic parasites detectable on routine fecal tests in the same way that worms are, but coccidia are not worms and are not susceptible to deworming medications. They are also not visible to the naked eye. Coccidia infection causes a watery diarrhea that is sometimes bloody; it can be a life-threatening problem, especially to a young or small pet.

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Giardia- 

Giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by a microscopic parasite, Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis). Once a person or animal has been infected with Giardia, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in feces. Because the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time (i.e., months).

During the past 2 decades, Giardia infection has become recognized as a common cause of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. Giardia can be found worldwide and within every region of the United States.

More information from the CDC

Round Worms

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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.

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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.

Hookworms

The hookworm (Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense) is one of the classical internal parasites of puppies, the others being roundworms, tapeworms, and coccidia.  (There are species of hookworms that infect cats but hookworm infection in cats is not nearly as common as hookworm infection in dogs.)  Hookworm infection has several special features that are of interest to us as the caretakers of dogs:

  • Hookworms suck blood.
  • Hookworms can be transmitted to unborn pups.
  • Hookworms can infect humans.
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Whipworms

This worm is one of the "big four" intestinal parasites with which our canine friends must contend: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. 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.

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Heartworms

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a fairly large worm, up to 14 inches long, that in adulthood lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected dog. Dogs acquire this infection through mosquito bites as mosquitoes readily pick up larval heartworms from infected dogs and carry them to new dogs. Some geographic areas have severe heartworm problems while other areas have virtually none. In order for the parasite to establish its presence in an area, the following conditions must be met:

  • Types of mosquitoes capable of carrying larval heartworms must be present.
  • The weather must be warm enough to allow heartworm larval development within the mosquito.
  • There must be infected dogs (or coyotes) in the area.
  • There must be vulnerable host dogs in the area.
When these conditions come together, an area becomes endemic for heartworm disease.

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