Hooks, rounds and whips—all types of worms—are the intestinal parasites that can cause all sorts of icky issues for not only your pet, but you too.
Hookworms are blood sucking parasites that invade and “hook” onto the wall of the small intestines. A majority of dogs obtain hookworms by ingesting their larvae, or when larvae penetrate their skin or foot pads. Damp environments and cool soil are ideal conditions for hookworm egg survival. Symptoms include poor appetite, diarrhea and dark stool. If hookworm larvae get into the lungs, then coughing and other symptoms can occur. If left untreated, hookworms can be fatal.
The roundworm is the most common intestinal parasite, easily spread and hard to control. They resemble spaghetti in appearance and typically cause soft stool, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Your pet can easily contract round worms through contaminated feces or catching little critters like rodents.
The dirty truth—as if this article isn’t dirty enough already—is that roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic. This is a fancy word that means your pet can transmit these parasites to you and your family. Do you have little ones around the house? Children are the most prone to zoonotic parasites because they are always touching their faces and putting their hands in their mouths. So just imagine your little one playing with the family pet, who happens to be carrying an intestinal parasite.
Whipworms are very resilient to different temperatures and can harbor in the soil for five to seven years. So all year long, these bad boys pose a threat. Your pet gets infected by ingesting the whipworm eggs, directly or indirectly through contaminated paws that reach the mouth. Like hookworms and roundworms, whipworms cause diarrhea, weight loss, anemia and possibly death.
Unfortunately, intestinal parasites will always be a threat; it’s just a matter of knowing what’s out there and how to prevent it.
Bonus protection: Most heartworm preventatives also prevent hooks, rounds, and whips. A great way to kill or block four different parasites with one preventative. It’s that easy.
by Adriene Buisch
Special to the Baltimore Guide