Did you know that some animal feces can carry parasites that can be contagious to other animals and humans? Not all of these can be seen with the naked eye. That is why it is so important to ensure you have your pet’s stool tested annually even if it appears normal. Most parasites can be found in grass, sand, and dirt. Parasites are released through an animal’s feces and eggs can live in an environment for months or years.
The following are some of the most common parasites found in a pet’s stool.
Roundworms: These worms are found in the small intestines of a dog or cat. The adult worms can commonly look long and stringy like a spaghetti noodle. It is commonly seen in puppies and kittens. A puppy or kitten can be infected while in the mother’s womb or when drinking the mother’s milk. It can also come from ingesting the eggs from contaminated soil. Sometimes you may see a puppy with a bloated looking belly or even having some diarrhea or vomiting. Commonly no signs are seen. Because of this, the pet could be shedding the worm eggs in the environment without the pet owner knowing. This can infect humans and most commonly children.
Hookworms: These worms are found in the small intestines where it attaches to the wall of the intestine using sharp teeth and sucks blood. They look like spaghetti. It is commonly seen in puppies and kittens. They can get Hookworms from their mother. It can also be picked up from the soil. Signs that a pet may have Hookworms could be weakness and pale gums. Hookworms are very hard to get rid of from grass and soil. In humans, hookworms can penetrate through the feet or belly and will cause humans red, itchy lesions on their body.
Whipworms: These worms are found in the cecum, which is where the small intestine and large intestine meet. They are called Whipworms due to their appearance looking similar to a whip. They are most commonly seen in dogs. They can get it from ingesting Whipworm eggs in soil or other areas that contain dog feces. Signs that a dog has Whipworms may include bloody diarrhea and weight loss. Severe Whipworm infection may even cause death. Whipworms are very hard to get rid of as they are resistant to heat and dryness. The can actually live in environment for up to 5 years. Whipworms are not contagious to humans.
Tapeworms: These worms are found in the small intestines. It is commonly found in cats and dogs. They can get Tapeworms from ingesting infected fleas, usually when they are licking and grooming themselves. Usually they will not show signs. Tapeworms can be seen in the stool. They look like sesame seeds when dried up. Before drying up they look like a grain of rice. Tapeworms can be transmitted to humans but is very rare and uncommon.
Giardia: This is a single-celled organism called a protozoa that lives in the small intestine of dogs. Giardia protozoa can only be seen under the microscope. Giardia is spread though the feces of infected dogs. They can get infected by consuming the Giardia cysts when grooming themselves, ingesting infected feces, consuming contaminated water or consuming other things that have the Giardia cysts on them. Many dogs can carry the infection, but not display any signs or symptoms of the disease. Some symptoms may include diarrhea, bloating and weight loss. Giardia can be passed from dogs to humans through contaminated dog feces.
Coccidia: This is a single-celled organism that reproduces in intestinal cells. Coccidia can only be seen under the microscope. It is commonly seen in puppies and kittens. They can get it from eating infected dirt or feces. They can also ingest it when grooming themselves. Signs that a pet is infected include bloody stools and severe diarrhea. The most common Coccidia in dogs is not contagious to humans. The less common types of Coccidia have the potential to infect humans.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council have sent us a report of positive cases so far for 2016. The results listed here are for pets that have tested positive in Orange, Ca.
January – November 2016:
90 positive cases for Whipworm
352 positive cases for Hookworm
822 positive cases for Roundworm
There are many ways that you can protect yourself and your pets from these parasites.
- Remove all animal feces from your yard as often as possible. This can help prevent contamination from spreading and becoming a bigger problem. If you are busy and have a hard time getting the yard cleaned up, we recommend to hire a poop pick up service. We recommend the local company www.scoopuppoop.com.
- Avoid walking your dogs in high traffic areas where others take their dogs for walks. You or your dog could accidently step in infected feces and take it home with you.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after you have played with your pet. Teach this to your kids too especially after they have not only played with their pets but after playing outside in grass or dirt.
- Check your pet’s bedding and resting spots. Keep them clean.
- Send out your pet’s stool for testing 1-2 times a year.
If you have any questions or would like to drop off a sample of your pet’s stool for testing, please give us a call.714-771-3261