Tag: gastrointestinal

Ew! What is that in my dog’s stool?!

Oh no! It looks like your pet may have some kind of intestinal parasite!

parasites2Intestinal parasites are parasites that live insideΒ a host’s gastrointestinal tract. Some feed off of the nutrients that the host ingests while others ingest the host’s blood. Whatever their food of choice may be, they can cause numerous issues for the host.

Examples of common intestinal parasites:
-Roundworms
-Whipworms
-Hookworms
-Tapeworms
Giardia
-Coccidia

While some parasites are large enough to see with the naked eye, this is not the case for all of them. For example, tape worms break apart and are usually passed as segments which can look like small grains of rice in your pet’s stool. Round worms resemble noodles or string. Others are much, much smaller and you may not physically see them in your pet’s stool. These parasites can cause all sorts of issues for your pet.

Symptoms include:
-Vomiting
-Weight loss
-Diarrhea
-Distended abdomen
-Scooting
-Occasionally coughing
-Anemia

How do cats and dogs get intestinal parasites?
Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies and kittens, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in uterus or from nursing.
parasites
Many intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can also infect humans. Simply practicing good hygiene is usually enough to prevent this from happening. You should always remove your pet’s stool from the yard and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. The same goes for your cat’s litter box. Wearing shoes while outside can help protect you against hookworms.

Diagnosing and Treatment:
But don’t worry – these pesky parasites are easily treated! There are many types of dewormers available. Some parasites can be seen in the stool, such as tapeworm segments or roundworms. Others are much, much smaller and harder to detect. Here at TLC Animal Hospital, we send your pet’s stool to an outside lab for thorough testing to identify which parasites are present to ensure that the correct dewormer is used to treat any and all parasites that your pet may have. Some dewormers require a second dose that is given a few weeks later to ensure that all of the parasites are gone. Depending on the parasite, repeat testing of your pet’s stool may be needed as well once treatment is done.

tapeworm-cycle3-cat-rf1

Prevention:
10765_001_xxlWhile there is, unfortunately, no way to 100% prevent against intestinal parasites, there are steps that you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of your pet becoming infected. Most monthly heartworm preventatives also contain a broad spectrum dewormer. This helps get rid of any eggs or larvae that your pet may have picked up during the previous month. Picking up after your pet helps reduce the chance of any eggs or larvae from getting into the soil.

The best way to prevent against tapeworms is to use a monthly flea preventative. Having your yard treated by an exterminator for fleas will also help. The less fleas there are in the environment, the less of a chance your pet has of eating an infected flea. As we’ve written about before, every pet should be on a monthly flea preventative, even if they are strictly indoors. Read more about the flea preventatives that we offer in our previous post to help you decide which preventative is the best for your pet’s lifestyle.

puppy_kitten_careIf your pet is not already on monthly parasite preventatives, take them to your veterinarian to discuss how you can protect your pets and family from intestinal parasites.

Remember that the best way to protect your pets against parasites is to keep them on parasite preventatives and have their stool checked at least once a year. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

By: Pigeon Tyler and Ashley Elliott

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Changes In Underweight And Overweight Cats

By- Erin Fitzpatrick-Wacker

Is your cat experiencing changes in its normal habits? Since our cats can’t tell us what is bothering them, we monitor their everyday behavior for changes to alert us that something may have changed.

In the case of diabetes, some early symptoms you might see are attacking you for food, inappropriate elimination, problems jumping on things, and worn off fur on the bottom of paws. Some late symptoms you might see are increased water consumption and increased urination.

In the case of hyperthyroidism, you might see increased appetite, changes in their coat, and weight loss.

If we are checking their lab work regularly, we are able to monitor many of these changes, and in the case of early diabetes, can even reverse the changes if caught early enough. We recommend screening lab work for every overweight and underweight cat, especially if they are over 10 years old, and every cat over the age of 7, especially if they are being anesthetized. 50% of diabetic and hyperthyroid cats have an underlying gastrointestinal issue (GI) and need additional screening lab, such as a GI panel with their regular lab work. Diabetic patients are also prone to urinary tract infections and require additional testing for their urine.

Properly diagnosed cats with gastrointestinal problems live 2 years longer, since skinny old cats have a reduced ability to digest fats and proteins, which is why we prescribe the special diet we put them on.

We also often like to check the quality of their stool to check and document consistency. Many cats with gastrointestinal problems have normal looking stool from the outside, but the inside will be waxy or liquid-like.

Monitor your cat closely for changes because of the special needs of senior pets and do yearly screening lab work to help evalutate their internal organs and identify underlying medical conditions. The sooner we identify their condition, the faster we can treat it. Bring these noticeable changes to the attention of your veterinarian for proper testing and diagnosis.