Intestinal Parasites in Puppies and Kittens

November 8, 2019
Baby animals require a great deal of attention in regards to their nutrition, their hygiene, and also in the prevention of illness. Today, we'll tell you all about intestinal parasites in puppies and kittens. 

Intestinal parasites in puppies and kittens are one of the most common illnesses. This is especially true during the early stages of an animal’s life.

Puppies and kittens find themselves in the midst of their development. Cellular activity in their bodies is highly active, as their muscles, organs, and bones are becoming stronger to prepare for adult life. Their immune systems are in a key moment, as it’s setting the foundation for the body’s defense system.

This intense metabolism requires reinforced nutrition, especially in regards to proteins and healthy fats. Therefore, it’s best to offer little pets food that’s specially designed for baby animals. The nutritional proportions in this food are different than those of adult dog foods.

This stage of development means that there is a great availability of nutrients circulating through baby animals’ blood. This includes vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This reality makes puppies and cats much more attractive to parasites than adult animals.

The causes of intestinal parasites in puppies.

Greater vulnerability to intestinal parasites in puppies and kittens

The bodies of puppies and kittens are more vulnerable and easier for parasites to infest. First, the defenses of these young animals are unprepared to take on numerous microorganisms from the external environment. Second, baby animals have small bodies with small organs that are easier for parasites to attack and poison.

Therefore, it’s important for pet owners to know how to carry out deworming of dogs on a regular basis. It’s also important to know how to apply these deworming products. All of these will provide positive results without putting the health of your pets at risk.

What are the main intestinal parasites in puppies and kittens and what are their symptoms?

Internal parasites in puppies consist of two large groups: Flatworms and roundworms.

Roundworms

These are more abundant and affect mostly dogs, cats, and humans. However, they can also infect wild mammals, reptiles, birds, and rodents.

The name of these worms refers to the shape of their bodies. Unlike tapeworms and flatworms, roundworms have bodies that are plump, even though they are smaller in size.

Despite their minute builds, they have the ability to reproduce very quickly. They can migrate around the entire body through the bloodstream As a result, they can affect a variety of organs and cause severe damage to the body.

The most common roundworms are intestinal worms. Their technical name is Ascaris worms, and they dwell along the mucous membrane of the small intestines of infected animals. They live absorbing the nutrients that the digestive process produces.

At first, this parasitic relationship produces intestinal swelling, the main consequence of which is chronic diarrhea. Then, the animal begins to suffer a growing lack of nutrition. The main symptoms are severe and sudden weight loss, lack of appetite, prostration, hair loss and changes in the fur’s texture.

However, another internal parasite, Toxocara, represents a greater threat to the health of adult cats and kittens. Felines under the age of 6 months are especially vulnerable to this illness, better known as Toxoplasmosis.

There is a high risk of cats spreading this parasite to human beings and, in particular, children. Therefore, toxocariasis (the spread of illness from animals to humans) is considered a high-risk zoonotic disease in regards to public health.

Flatworms and tapeworms

These types of worms possess a thin flat body like a ribbon and tend to be longer than roundworms. The bodies of some tapeworms can measure up to nearly 20 feet, occupying the entire human intestine.

A puppy playing in the park with its owner.

Unlike roundworms, tapeworms need an intermediate host. This allows their larvae to develop and penetrate the bodies of cats, dogs, and humans.

The most common intermediate hosts are fleas and ticks. This means that treatment has to be twofold, which consists of eliminating both the external and the internal parasites.

There are illnesses that involve the massive contamination of flatworms, such as EchinococcusThis illness is contagious for humans and prognosis can be very serious. Fortunately, the disease is rare in North America. However, it is more common and even endemic in other parts of the world, including some parts of Europe.

Intestinal parasites in puppies and kittens are a health risk to pets as well as those around them. Therefore, it’s extremely important for owners to take their furry babies to the vet periodically. What’s more, they should be sure to apply internal and external treatments to prevent and eliminate the presence of parasites.

Source of main image Hugo A. Quintero G