Let's keep this simple:

There are basically 15 common parasites affecting pets that we worry about in our region of the country.  Some of them can be deadly, some can affect humans, and some just make our pets miserable.

Let's count:

1.  Fleas.  Often cause severe skin irritation and can be a carrier of diseases and tapeworms.  We discuss flea control on other pages.  Our best products for flea control include NexGard, Trifexis, Comfortis, Capstar, Revolution, Sentinel, and Frontline.

2.  Ticks.  A carrier of multiple diseases, can cause anemia, and can cause fairly severe discomfort.  We discuss tick control on other pages.
Products worth considering are  NexGard, Frontline Plus, Revolution, and Preventic Collars.

3.  Mosquitoes.  Carriers of heartworm and other diseases.  Very irritating.  (flying syringes)

4.  Biting Flies.  Irritating, and they sometimes lay eggs under the skin that become larvae (bot flies) (cuterebra) (maggots) 

5.  Lice.  Not common anymore.  Easily detected and treated.

6.  Scabies or Sarcoptic Mange.  Very itchy, causes severe dermatitis, and contagious to other pets. 

7.  Demodex Mange.  Can cause severe dermatitis, genetics are a factor, and not contagious.  I've listed this type of mange separately from scabies mange because the treatment is different

8.  Ear mites.  Easily detected and treated but getting resistant to the ear mite products sold over the counter.

All the above parasites are external parasites and their control is discussed on other pages on this site.  The seven parasites listed below are internal parasites.  One of the seven internal parasites we worry about is heartworms and we discuss this disease and it's prevention in more detail on it's own page

9.  Heartworms.  (Blood)  These parasites are microscopic when they enter the body via a mosquito bite, but grow into a worm that lives in the blood vessels near the heart that's almost the size of a piece of spaghetti.  Monthly heartworm prevention is critical in dogs in our part of the country but it's also fairly important for cats too.
Products worth considering are  ProHeart, Trifexis,  Revolution,  Sentinel, and Tri-Heart.

The six remaining parasites are all intestinal worms or protozoa and that's what this page is about. and I've highlighted the four requiring vigilance below.

10. Tapeworms (cestodes). (Intestinal) Can occasionally be transmitted to humans causing severe disease, can occasionally cause death in pets, and frequently causes discomfort in pets.  It's important to think of tapeworms separately from other intestinal worms because they are resistant to most deworming products meant for other types of worms (nematodes).  Tapeworms are about the size of a piece of rice.

11.  Roundworms (nematodes). (Intestinal)  The most common type of worm in young pets.  Can cause serious problems in people (especially children).  This particular nematode worm is easy and cheap to kill but it's not a one treatment affair.  Your pet is constantly exposed to new larvae both from the environment and from microscopic larvae encysted in the muscles from birth.  You need to treat your pets multiple times a year.  Round worms look like a curled up, 5 inch strand of spaghetti.

12.  Hookworms  (nematodes).  These microscopic intestinal worms can kill and they are getting resistant to the products claiming to control them.  Quite dangerous to people (especially children) Usually multiple treatments are needed followed by microscopic fecal testing to be sure.

13.  Whipworms (nematodes).  Another microscopic intestinal worm that can cause severe illness.  Resistant to most over the counter worm products.  And once again, multiple treatments are needed followed by microscopic fecal testing to be sure they are gone.

14.  Coccidia. (protozoa) Mostly an intestinal disease (chronic debilitating diarrhea) of very young puppies and kittens.
There are a few species of this organism dangerous to people.
We can treat this disease when it occurs but we don't have an effective preventive.

15.  Giardia.  (protozoa)  This organism is everywhere, there are a zillion different sub species affecting all mammals, and luckily the  GI irritation (diarrhea and nausea) that they can cause is usually mild and short lived.  Note the word usually.
We can treat this disease when it occurs but we don't have an effective preventive.  (there is a vaccine available for giardia but it hasn't been very successful)

So, What should you do to protect your pet and family?  Well, luckily, we pretty much take care of this for you if you bring your pets to us for regular check ups and you use monthly heartworm prevention:

1.  Worm your pet on a regular basis.  Pets that go outdoors in the South should ideally be dewormed every 1-3 months.  Luckily most monthly heartworm preventives also help control intestinal worms
Revolution is what we recommend for cats.  For dogs, all the heartworm products we offer also help with intestinal worm control.

2.  Worm your pet twice a year using a more potent dewormer.  We do this for your pet when you come in for it's annual exam and again when you come in for the midyear wellness exam. 

3.  Microscopic Laboratory examination of the stool at least once a year.  We routinely do this during the midyear wellness exam for dogs.
(I've given up doing routine fecal samples for cats because it's not usually needed for 100% indoor cats and it's too much trouble finding stool samples of outdoor cats)

4.  General cleanliness.  If your dog lives in a confined area it's important to keep the stool picked up at least once a week to minimize the egg and larvae load in the environment.  Having lots of stool around your yard is also a health hazard to humans... especially to children sitting on the ground.  Both hook worm and round worm larvae can bore into human skin and cause serious disease.  Note; strong sunshine does a pretty good job of killing worm larvae, but larvae thrive in damp, shady areas which are sometimes the same places where children like to play when it's hot out.

5.  Keep your pet clean, fit, and healthy.  Everything is holistic... parasites thrive in filth and pets with poor nutrition or immune systems compromised by illness, chronic skin disease, chronic inflammation and so forth.

The products we recommend for intestinal worm control are discussed in the column to your left.   Thanks, Roger Ross DVM


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The worms in the picture above are round worms and can cause fatal disease in dogs, cats, and sometimes children.  But an even bigger threat are hook and whip worms... both of which bore holes into the intestines and both of which have become resistant to many deworming medications.  But I can't easily show you a gross picture of them because they are microscopic.


All pets are in danger of intestinal worms throughout their lives. 

And all pets need to be dewormed multiple times a year.

Puppies and kittens become infested with worm larvae from their mother's milk.... and hundreds of these larvae encyst in the muscle tissue.

If the puppy or kitten has a strong immune system, these larvae will go dormant and wait... for years if need be ...until they detect that your pet's immune system is weakened ... and then they emerge. 
This explains why even indoor pets with NO contact with other animals can become positive for worms. 

Worm eggs and larvae are concentrated where ever animals defecate.  Cleanliness helps a lot, but is only part of the solution.

Most vulnerable to infestation are puppies, kittens, young pets, and pregnant pets, and any pets with weakened immune systems from old age, disease, poor nutrition, or stress.

So, what should you do to protect your pet and your family?  This is discussed in the column to your right about half way down.

Below; a summary of the individual  products we recommend for worm control:

You must surely know that fleas have become resistant to many products sold for flea control.  Many of the products available for fleas aren't worth the money, trouble, time, or risk of toxicity.

The same goes for deworming products.  Just because a product claims to be for worm control doesn't mean it really works. 

Worms keep becoming risistant to our products. 
And there's some confusion out there about the different types of parasites and worms that we need to be concerned about. 

So Below; a list of the products we use for EFFECTIVE treatment or control of intesinal parasites in dogs and cats:

ProFender for Cats and Small Dogs:  I think this product is too expensive for big dogs, but it's excellent for cats and small dogs; 1 application is close to 100% effective for all types of intestinal worms including tapeworms.
$16 for pets under 15 lbs

High Dose Pyrantel: Very safe and inexpensive flavored liquid that works well on round worms in kitten and puppies and fairly good on hook worms.  But not very effective on resistant hook worms, whip worms, or tape worms.
Should be given multiple times a year.
$2-5/single dose

Panacur Liquid or flavored granules: very safe for cats and dogs and effective against everything except tapeworms but only if multiple doses are given ... usually 3 days in a row and then repeated for 3 days a few weeks later.
$2-7 a dose depending on the size of your dog.

Cestex:  Effective  tablets for tapeworms in cats and dogs.  Single dosing may be adequate, but a repeat dose after 3 weeks is recommended
$4-30 per dosing depending on the size of your dog

Virbantel.  Chewable tablet for both cats and dogs that kill tapeworms well, round worms well, hook worms fairly well, and whip worms less well. Follow up treatments are usually needed.

Monthly heartworm Preventives that also help to control intestinal worms:

Revolution:  In addition to everything else Revolution is good for (fleas, flea larvae, ticks, mange, and heartworms, Revolution also controls round and hook worms in cats.  Only fair control in dogs.  Applied once a month to the back of the neck

Trifexis Chewable Tablets:  Really great control of fleas, great prevention of heartworms, and also very good for control of round, hook, and whip worms.  Chewable tablet given once a month.
Officially for Dogs only.
Causes upset stomach in some dogs.

ProHeart 6 month Injection:  I highly recommend this product for people who keep forgetting to give their dogs their monthly heartworm prevention on schedule. But does not do fleas so needs to be used in conjunction with a flea control product.

Sentinel Chewable Tablets:  Nice middle priced, chewable tablet that does a very good job on heartworm prevention and intestinal worm control.  AND keeps flea numbers very low because it stops the eggs from hatching.

TriHeart Plus Chewable Tablets: (Generic HeartGard) Cheap and effective heartworm prevention.  Fair intestal worm control.
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