Internal Parasites

Internal parasites can be found within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of your pet. On occasion, they can migrate through other body organs such as the liver, lungs, nervous system, and heart. A variety of GI parasites affect dogs and cats. While some of these parasites are visible to the naked eye, others are microscopic. Even more alarming, some parasites are ZOONOTIC, which means humans can become infected.

Luckily, these can all be detected with the proper testing. We recommend testing a fecal sample at least once a year at the time of your pet’s annual exam. 

Common internal parasites that are found in the
GI tract include:
  • Coccidia
  • Giardia
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • ​Toxoplasmosis
  • Whipworms
Diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss can be among the most common clinical signs of GI parasite infections. However, many infected pets don’t show any clinical signs at all.

In humans, if a person accidentally ingests roundworm eggs, the larvae can migrate into the body and cause organ damage and potential blindness. Infective hookworm larvae in the environment can penetrate the skin. When this happens in humans, the condition is called cutaneous larva migrans. People with this condition may experience itchy skin lesions with a snakelike pattern.

Because of the health risk to your family and pets, it is important to keep your pet on a year-round parasite prevention program. There are several preventatives that when used properly, are very effective at greatly reducing the risk of your pet acquiring intestinal parasites. Additionally, you can help prevent the risk of zoonotic disease in your family by practicing good hygiene (request hand washing), avoiding eating unwashed raw vegetables or undercooked meats, and cleaning up pet feces in your yard. For more information about pets and parasites, visit the Pets and Parasites organization, and consult with one of our friendly staff.

There are many effective products available today that can safely be used on dogs and cats to help protect them and control internal parasites. Fortunately, many monthly heartworm preventive medications also control some of these parasites.