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Health - Parasites and Organisms

Children run the greatest risk of infection because they are prone to play in the dirt at the
park and playground. They then put their hands in their mouths or rub their eyes. Even teens or adults playing Frisbee, football, soccer etc. in an open area could be in danger. Parasitic infections can make humans sick and for pregnant women- can pose a danger to their unborn child.
How do dogs get Giardia?

Giardia, also known as Giardia intestinalis, G.duodenalis, and G.lambia, is a common intestinal parasite that affects not only dogs but also cats and humans. Dogs can contract Giardia from coming in contact with infected feces or contaminated surfaces or bodies of water and then swallowing the parasite.

Can people get Giardia from dogs?

Giardia can infect humans. The clinical signs are similar to those reported for dogs. We do not know the significance companion animals serve as a source of infection for humans. Until it has been proven otherwise, we should assume that Giardia can be transmitted from one animal to another and from other animals to humans.

How can I know when my dog has Giardia?

Symptoms in dogs include diarrhea, vomiting, gas, and abdominal discomfort, although dogs may be infected with Giardia and not show any symptoms. Younger dogs are more likely to contract Giardia. If you suspect that your dog has become infected, especially if your dog is suffering from excessive diarrhea, contact your veterinarian.

What are Whipworms?

The whipworm is one of the four most common intestinal parasites of dogs. Whipworms reside in the cecum, which is inside your dog’s body where the small intestine and large intestine meet.

Dogs become infected with whipworms by swallowing infective whipworm eggs in soil or other substances that may contain dog feces.

How did my dog get whipworms?

Whipworms pass microscopic eggs in the stool. The eggs are very resistant to drying and heat, so they can remain viable in the dog's environment for years. They mature and are able to reinfect the dog in 10-60 days. The eggs are swallowed and return to the lower intestinal tract to complete the life cycle.

How do I prevent my dog from getting whipworms?

Whipworm infections can be prevented by removing your dog’s feces regularly from your yard. Because whipworms are sometimes more difficult to diagnose than other intestinal parasites, it is important that you take your dog to see a veterinarian at least annually for a properly conducted fecal examination (test of your dog’s feces).

Your veterinarian can prescribe safe and effective products that treat and control whipworm infections.

Can I get whipworms from my dog?

No. Whipworms are not infectious to people; they are parasites of the dog.

Hookworm Hookworms have a direct life cycle meaning that they do not necessarily need a host to be transmitted. In pets, hookworm ova(egg) are passed in the host's feces and develop to the first larval stage if the temperature

Symptoms of Hookworms in Dogs

A dog with the parasite looks unhealthy and has a poor appetite; the linings of its nostrils, lips, and ears will be pale. If hookworm larvae get into the lungs, the dog will cough, as well as present several other symptoms, including dark and tarry stool, diarrhea, and constipation. Death can come suddenly if the dog is not immediately treated.

What are roundworms?

Roundworms describes a whole bunch of different worm parasites. The most common dog roundworm is Toxocara canis. Humans have a different roundworm, as do cats, horses, pigs, and other animals. Dogs get roundworms either from eating worm eggs off the ground or because the mother dog was infected and passed the worms to her puppies during her pregnancy.

Although the risk to humans is slight, roundworm is a major health concern. Roundworm lives in the small intestine of dogs. It is a microscopic and parasitic organism. Eggs are passed into the environment in the dog's waste.

There is no risk from fresh dog waste. But after becoming infective, eggs can remain in the soil for several years. Humans do not develop adult roundworms, although migration of larvae through tissues and organs can cause disease. Humans usually become infected through contact with eggs in the soil or by accidental ingestion.


Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your dog’s (or cat's) intestines. A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its own reproductive organs. Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments—which appear as small white worms that may look like grains of rice or seeds—on the rear end of your dog, in your dog’s feces, or where your dog lives and sleeps.

How are the tapeworms treated?

Treatment is simple and, fortunately, very effective. A drug given by your vet which kills tapeworms is given, either orally or by injection. It causes the tapeworm to dissolve within the intestines. Since the worm is usually digested before it passes, it is not visible in your dog's stool. These drugs should not cause vomiting, diarrhea, or any other adverse side-effects.

Control of fleas is very important in the management and prevention of tapeworm infection.

What can be done to control tapeworm infection in dogs and to prevent human infection?
  • Effective flea control is important.

  • Prompt deworming should be given when parasites are detected; periodic deworming may be appropriate for pets at high risk for reinfection.

  • All pet feces should be disposed of promptly, especially in yards, playgrounds, and public parks.

  • Strict hygiene is important, especially for children.

  • Do not allow children to play in potentially contaminated environments

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