Of course we all want to take care of our beloved pets but is it possible that parasites are endangering their lives? Although dogs and cats are generally considered to be rather disease free, they are both susceptible to parasites such as hook worms. Otherwise known as Dipylidium Caninum, the “hook worm” is a particularly nasty parasite that can and will shorten the life of your pet unless properly treated.
Parasites like the hook worm actually have teeth that they use to attach to the small intestine of your dog or cat (actually, these parasites are also a danger to humans too!). Now these are rather simple parasites with three basic body parts: the head, neck, and tail. Every hook worm has only one head and neck, but they may have several tail segments.
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The tail segment is very important to parasites like the hook worm because this is how they breed. Every tail section has the reproductive organs for the hook worm. Sections of tail break off all the time and are passed with other solid waste (in the animal’s feces). Fleas, who lay their eggs in feces, eat the tail segments and are thus infected with hook worm.
The parasites are passed on to the animal when the flea bites it. It is also possible for animals to become infested with these parasites by eating the fleas themselves. Therefore, the best prevention for hook worms is to rid your home and yard of fleas. Then, make sure the animal is free of the parasites by taking it to your veterinarian. If infected, the animal will be orally given a mild poison that will cleanse its system of the hook worms.
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Hook worms may not seem like very dangerous parasites but their effect upon animals is cumulative. After prolonged periods of infestation, animals will appear emaciated as they will have been deprived of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients by the parasites clinging to their intestinal walls. In time, the immune system will weaken and the animal will become prone to disease. If left untreated, hook worms are indeed parasites that can and will kill your pets.
It is usually possible to determine if your animal has hook worms by inspecting its stool for the parasites. Plus, if the stool is often too wet or runny, it is likely your pet has hook worms. Pets suspected of having the parasites need to be taken to the vet immediately as the risk of spreading hook worms to humans is very real. After the animal has been rid of the worms, be sure to destroy any flea populations in the area or the risk of re-infection is very high.