Your dog’s body is a smorgasbord for flies, ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and countless other parasitic invaders, perhaps the most insidious of which rely on your dog’s intestinal tract for the completion of their life cycles. Not surprisingly, our contemplation of these often microscopic lives is limited to how best to eradicate them.
“Internal and external parasites are of concern to every dog and cat I see,” says Dr. Michael Stone, veterinary internist and clinical assistant professor of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. “I feel it is my responsibility to discuss parasitic infections and their consequences. Many owners are not aware of the dangers that exist for both their pet and themselves.”
You’ll find a full discussion of ticks and Lyme disease elsewhere in this book. This chapter focuses on worms and other internal parasites.
More than a few of us have been tempted to take a detour to the closest pet store to purchase on over-the-counter remedy against worms. But intestinal parasites span a broad spectrum, not all of which are targeted by the medications found in pet shops of grocery stores. Although it is tempting to equate the swift and thrifty decision with the wise decision, you will never attain the depth of information that a veterinarian provides by reading the package of an over-the-counter medication. An accurate diagnosis of the parasites afflicting your dog is the safest way to ensure proper treatment.
In most cases, a veterinarian will conduct a fecal smear or a fecal float to diagnose the parasite. In a fecal smear, a small sample of your dog’s stool is deposited directly upon a slide to be viewed under a microscope. Fecal smears are usually done if an insufficient sample of stool has been collected to run a fecal float. Floats allow for a more discriminating view of your dog’s intestinal contents. In a fecal float, a sample of stool is mixed with a liquid solution that is heavy enough to float the eggs of any parasite to the surface of a test tube. The eggs can then be skimmed off onto a slide and identified under the microscope.
But treating a dog without the correct diagnosis is a waste of time and, if the true source of the trouble is not targeted, may result in irreparable damage to bodily organs.
To learn more on how to head off serious problems with parasites on your dog, purchase Canine Medicine from Tufts Good Dog Library of Your Dog today.