The most common internal parasites of dogs are worms, and there are a number of different types including roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and heartworms. Each kind of parasite can affect a canine's health differently and each parasite require slightly different treatments. It is best to get your pet on a parasite prevention plan for their best long term health.
The ASPCA reports that most puppies carry roundworms and routine deworming for this parasite should be done when they get their dog vaccinations. VCA Animal Hospitals reports that roundworms and tapeworms tend to have a greater effect on puppies than grown dogs, stunting their growth. The former can cause a puppy's belly to become distended, and the latter may result in a blocked intestinal tract and digestive problems.
Hookworms are one of the most severe types of canine parasites, and pets can become significantly anemic and debilitated from hookworm infestations. Whipworms create irritation in the large intestine, which is often accompanied by diarrhea and weight loss. If you notice that your dog is coughing, fatigued and otherwise in poor physical condition, it may be infected with heartworms.
Many intestinal parasites can pose a zoonotic health threat—meaning they can and do affect humans. Intestinal worms can produce millions of infective eggs every day which get passed in your pet’s feces and spread throughout the area where they walk. People, especially children, can accidentally ingest these eggs, which can cause serious diseases of the eyes and brain. In fact, 1 to 3 million people become infected with hookworms from their pets every year and many have serious complications.
To protect the health of your dog and your family, adult dogs and cats should be on monthly, year-round heartworm preventative that also controls intestinal parasites. With this regimen, a heartworm test should be performed once yearly and a fecal test should be performed at least 1 to 2 times yearly. Dog owners should know the signs associated with worms and get them to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible if they suspect their pets have been infected with these internal parasites.