Internal parasites are extremely common in puppies and kittens. Infected at birth from immature worms "laying in wait" in the mother's muscle tissue, almost every puppy and kitten will be carrying intestinal parasites when adopted or purchased. Even those that have been dewormed numerous times are likely to be still infected, due to constant exposure to the parasite eggs. In addition to possibly causing illness in your pet, many of these parasitic worms also pose potential health risks for you and your family, especially children. Be sure to clean up your pet's feces right away, especially puppies going outside, as many of the parasite eggs can remain in the soil for years and thereby continue to infect your pet.
Most parasite infestations are not visible to the owner. Most of these parasites are too small to see with the naked eye and usually it is only the microscopic eggs that are passed in the feces. Roundworms can be up to five inches long and are occasionally noted in the pet's feces or vomit. Tapeworm segment can appear as small white worms or dried grains of rice on the pet's feces or around the anus.
Our animal hospital has our laboratory run two tests on the stool sample at least every six months. The first (fecal parasite evaluation) dissolves the sample, centrifuges it, and extracts the portion that may contain eggs. This microscopic evaluation checks for Roundworm, Hookworms, Whipworms, Coccidia, and Giardia cysts. The second test is a Giardia Elisa Test, which is a much more sensitive test for this parasite, which is potentially transmissible to humans. Though a positive test lets us know which parasite to treat and to recheck to make sure it has been eliminated, a negative test does not guarantee that there are not any parasites. This is because worms do not produce eggs all the time, so even when worms are present a particular stool sample may not contain any eggs.
For the family's safety as well as the pet's, it is important that all dogs and cats be dewormed on a regular basis. Puppies and Kittens should be dewormed at least twice after entering their new home. After that, a monthly deworming is recommended by the Companion Animal Parasite Council. This is accomplished by the administration of a heartworm preventative such as Interceptor or Sentinel for dogs and Revolution for cats. Our veterinarian also recommends a broader spectrum deworming treatment every six months. Dogs receive Drontal Plus, and we administer Profender to out cat patients at their six-month exams.