Educational Articles

Parasites

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of dogs after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the dog’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected dogs can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from dogs to humans.

  • There are many species of lungworm that can cause respiratory problems in dogs. Infection is acquired through either: ingestion of an intermediate host such as snails or slugs, ingestion of animals that have been infected by eating these animals or depending on the species, from an infected dog by contact with saliva, nasal discharge, or contaminated food and water bowls. Lungworms can be found throughout North America and the world with certain species seen in certain areas. Clincal signs can range from asymptomatic to tachypnea, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, respiratory distress or exercise intolerance. The degree of clinical signs is usually proportional to the strength of the dog’s immune system. Diagnosis involves history, physical exam, x-rays and organism identification through either baermann fecal examination or BAL/bronchoscopy. Treatment involves use of specific antiparasitic drugs for various lengths of time depending on type and severity of infection. Prognosis is good but re-infection can occur.

  • Parasites are not commonly diagnosed in pet birds; however, when present they can cause generalized debilitation in birds. With external parasites, your veterinarian can often make a diagnosis based on the results of a physical examination and a microscopic analysis of the skin lesions. Intestinal parasites are usually discovered when the feces are examined microscopically. Blood parasites are typically found during a routine blood count. External parasites are often treated with specific topical or oral antiparasitic medications. Internal parasites can be treated with a variety of oral or injectable medications.

  • Pythiosis is a waterborne infection that can infect the GI tract or skin of dogs. It can cause extreme weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or skin lesions such as ulcerating nodules and draining tracts. This disease is more common in southern regions. Treatment involves surgical removal of all affected material if possible, including limb amputation if indicated. Different antifungal therapies have shown some efficacy and need to be continued long-term. Prognosis for resolution of pythiosis is guarded to poor.

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is spread by various species of ticks and is not confined just to the Rocky Mountain regions of North America. Clinical signs can be non-specific and cover multiple body systems. Early diagnosis and treatment gives the best prognosis for recovery after treatment with antibiotics. Prevention of tick bites and prompt removal of ticks is important.

  • Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. Almost all cats will become infected with roundworms at some point in their life and most often as kittens. Roundworms are not particularly harmful to adult cats, but large numbers may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and debilitated older cats.

  • Roundworms are parasites that live freely in the intestine, feeding off of partially digested intestinal contents. Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina are two important species of roundworms in dogs. Infected dogs shed the microscopic roundworm eggs in their feces. Other dogs may become infected by sniffing or licking infected feces. There are many safe and effective preparations available to kill adult roundworms in the intestine.

  • Salmon poisoning is caused by a type of bacteria found within parasitic flatworms that infect the tissues of wild fish found in coastal streams of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Sarcoptic mange is caused by a parasitic mite that burrows just beneath the surface of the skin. The Sarcoptes mites can bury into the skin of healthy adult dogs and puppies and feeds on material in and on the skin. The presence of the sarcoptic mite causes intense itching. There are several medications that are effective against Sarcoptes.

  • The most common skin problem in mini-pigs is dry skin that results from a dietary deficiency of fatty acids. In addition to dry skin, mini-pigs commonly suffer from sarcoptic mange, parakeratosis, yeast dermatitis, and sunburn. Hooves of mini-pigs grow continuously throughout life and need to be trimmed periodically. The canine teeth (tusks) of male pigs grow throughout life, while those of females stop growing at about two years of age. Starting after the pig is about a year of age and usually after giving the pig a sedative, your veterinarian will trim tusks during an examination.

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