The Pet Clinic
The Pet Clinic Newsletter
April is Spay/Neuter Month!


Don't Litter - Spay or Neuter Your Pets


Pet overpopulation remains a significant problem in the United States, despite efforts of rescue groups, nonprofit organizations, animal shelters, and animal advocates all over the country. The Southern region of the U.S. is one of the most severely overpopulated.

The problem begins and ends with responsible spaying/neutering of our pets to prevent breeding which adds to the population problem. Indiscriminate breeding may seem harmless, but many of these unwanted/unplanned pregnancies end with puppies and kittens being turned over to already-overpopulated shelters, or worse, left to roam, homeless and uncared for, to fend for themselves. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, according to Of these, approximately 2.7 million are euthanized - that's roughly 36%! Of the dogs entering shelters as strays, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized, and only 26% are returned to their owners. Of the cats entering shelters as strays, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% are returned to their owners. These numbers are staggering.

The problem is clear: there just aren't enough homes for the animals that result from indiscriminate breeding, and too many animals are breeding. The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is 1-2 per year; the average number of kittens is 4-6 per litter. The average number of litters a fertile dog produces is generally 1 per year; the average number of puppies per litter is 4-6. You can see how the numbers easily add up to be problematic.

How can we help? By spaying and neutering our pets to make sure we do not contribute to the problem of overpopulation.

Spring and Summer are peak seasons for animal breeding and unplanned pregnancies. In light of that, The Pet Clinic is hosting our annual Spay/Neuter Discount Event the whole month of April! Take advantage of $75 OFF your pet's spay or neuter this month!

Call and schedule your appointment with us today! 


Debunking some common misconceptions about fleas, ticks, and parasites

MYTH: "My dog can't have fleas! I've never seen any on him, and he never goes outside."

FACT: Did you know that fleas are everywhere in the environment? Fleas thrive in humid, warm areas (can we say, 'the South?') including the grass and dust margins of your lawn, in crawl spaces of houses, along sidewalks, and more. Even if your pet never steps foot outside, fleas and ticks can still enter your home. We (pet owners) even unknowingly carry them into our houses on our shoes, socks, clothing, and other materials that have been outside.
Tick Tock!
Time For Tick Prevention



Ticks pose a significant health risk to your pets - and you!


Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of unlucky host animals such as cats, dogs, and wildlife. Although their presence may not be noticed by the host, ticks can transmit many diseases through their bite. Tick species and disease transmission tend to vary based on region, and your veterinarian is trained to know specific tick-borne disease risks in individual areas.

Ticks tend to be most active in late spring and summer and live in tall brush or grass, where they may attach to dogs and cats frolicking on their turf. Even if you have an indoor-only pet, ticks can be transferred from people or pets coming into the household from outdoors. These parasites prefer to attach close to the head, neck, ears and feet. However, they can be found anywhere on your pet's body.


Most ticks are visible to the naked eye, but some are not easily noticeable until they swell after a blood meal. While these parasites rarely cause obvious discomfort, it's a good idea to check your pet regularly if you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, especially if he/she spends a lot of time outside. Run your hands carefully over your pet every time he/she comes inside, and especially check inside and around the ears, head, and feet.

Tick-Borne Diseases Can Be Transmitted

to Pets AND Humans


Common diseases that are transmitted by ticks include:


Lyme Disease: Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by deer ticks. Symptoms may include lameness or limping, reluctance to move, swollen or painful joints, acute kidney failure, heart damage, lack of energy, fever, or urinating more. Up to 10% of infected pets will show no symptoms. A Lyme vaccine is available for dogs and is usually recommended in regions where Lyme Disease is endemic.


Ehrlichiosis: Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by brown dog ticks and lone star ticks. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, depression, fever, lameness or limping, swollen or painful joints, bloody nose, and pale gums. Some pets may show no signs in early stages of infection. Infection may eventually lead to bleeding disorders, neurologic signs, kidney failure, bone marrow suppression, and more. Pets may maintain a latent state and relapse months to years later. Humans can also contract Ehrlichiosis from ticks, so pets can act as a potential reservoir if they carry in a tick that then attaches to a human. Humans cannot, however, contract Ehrlichiosis directly from a pet.


Anaplasmosis: Anaplasmosis is a bacterial infection caused by Anaplasma bacteria and transmitted by deer ticks and brown dog ticks. Symptoms may include lack of energy, lameness or limping, swollen or painful joints and muscles, fever, evidence of hemorrhage (bruising), and loss of appetite. Some pets may show not symptoms. Serious complications of infection include anemia and loss of platelets (inability to form blood clots appropriately). Infections tend to be less severe than Ehrlichiosis. Like Ehrlichiosis, humans can contract Anaplasmosis from ticks on their pets, but not from pets directly.


Babesiosis: Babesiosis is a bacterial infection caused by Babesia bacteria and transmitted by the brown dog tick, American dog tick, and and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. Babesiosis is more common along the Gulf Coast and southern states, and a high prevalence is seen in Greyhound breeds in the U.S. In adult dogs, infection rarely causes symptoms, but infections can be serious or even deadly in puppies. Symptoms include lack of energy, loss of appetite, fever, weight loss, and vomiting. Significant anemia and multi-organ failure (kidney failure, internal hemorrhage, respiratory failure, neurologic signs, and shock) can occur if left untreated or if treatment is not successful. Pets that do recover are often chronic carriers of the disease.


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is transmitted by the American dog tick and the lone star tick. In pets, Rocky Mountain spotted fever appears suddenly with severe illness lasting about two weeks. If not treated early enough, infection can result in death. This disease is also a zoonotic, which means it can infect people as well as pets. While people infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever are likely to develop a visible rash, pets do not. Common symptoms in pets include lameness or limping, neurological symptoms such as seizure, weakness of the limbs, trembling, and circling, shock, hemorrhage and bruising, inflammation of the eye, and more. If treated aggressively and early, mild cases can recover with no long-term effects. Cardiovascular, kidney, and neurologic damage are the most common causes for permanent organ dysfunction or death. Despite the geographic implications of its name, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be found throughout the United States and Canada.


Hepatozoonosis: Hepatozoonosis is caused by a protozoan parasite and is transmitted by the brown dog tick or Gulf Coast tick. Unlike other tick-borne diseases, Hepatozoonosis is caused by a pet ingesting a tick, not due to a tick bite. Symptoms may come and go, and include fever, gait abnormalities, muscle weakness and wasting, discharge from the eyes and nose, lack of energy, and anemia. Infections can be debilitating and fatal. Hepatozoonosis remains latent in the body, and pets experience relapses periodically that then require re-treatment. For this reason, long-term medication to control infection is often necessary. Relapses can become more frequent and lead to kidney failure, vascular abnormalities, chronic weight loss, and muscle wasting.

Cytauxzoonosis: Cytauxzoonosis is a protozoal disease that affects cats. A bite by a lone star tick or American dog tick transmits the disease. Infection in domestic cats leads to severe anemia, lack of energy, fever, trouble breathing, and is usually fatal. Treatment is mostly supportive, and most cats do not survive. Bobcats are the natural host for this protozoan parasite and, unlike their domesticated cousins, show little to no signs even when infected.


Haemobartonellosis: Haemobartonellosis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by the American dog tick, and can be transmitted by fleas as well! Haemobartonellosis in cats is also known as 'Feline Infectious Anemia.' Symptoms include lack of energy, anemia, lack of appetite, and general malaise (feeling bad). Severity of infection ranges from very mild or nonexistent symptoms to very severe or even fatal anemia. Cats who are infected with Feline Leukemia are at higher risk for more severe infections. Pets that recover from clinical signs may become persistent carriers of the disease and may even have periodic relapses of symptoms in times of stress.



Symptoms of tick-borne diseases are often non-specific and require bloodwork and other diagnostic tests to confirm the disease. If you suspect that your pet has come into contact with a tick and may be showing these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Bring the tick to your veterinarian for identification if you remove a tick from a symptomatic pet.


The best way to prevent infection is to stay up-to-date with your pet's tick prevention. Ask your veterinarian which tick preventive medication is right for you and your pet! 



Information Provided by Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) and 'Dogs and Ticks'



Debunking some common misconceptions about fleas, ticks, and parasites

MYTH: "'Spot' hasn't had any diarrhea, so he shouldn't have worms."

FACT: Many dogs and cats infected with intestinal parasites never show signs of infection! This is pretty scary since some intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people before you even know they are there! The best way to assure that your pets are parasite-free is to scoop the yard and/or litter box to reduce contact with feces, submit regular fecal samples to your veterinarian every 6 months, and provide your pets with monthly intestinal parasite prevention. Many heartworm and/or flea medications also include protection against intestinal parasites for convenience. Does your pet's current parasite prevention include intestinal parasite protection?

 FAQ: I know that my puppy/kitten needs frequent fecal checks.

But, now that my pets are adults, is that really necessary?


 Yes! Adults are still at risk of becoming infected with intestinal parasites.



Remember, many infected pets may show NO sign of infection. This means that your pet could be infected with intestinal parasites without you knowing. If he or she has a zoonotic parasite (able to be passed from pet to human), you could be at risk of infection as well. Although some parasites can be more common in certain age groups (for example, puppies and kittens), intestinal parasites can infect pets of any age. Our veterinarians recommend routine, regular fecal checks at least every 6 months for all pets in order to detect subclinical infections. It is also important to keep your pets on a monthly intestinal parasite preventive medication. These medications typically do not treat infections that are already present, but they do protect your pet if exposed to parasites in the environment. You should always remove pet feces from your yard as soon as possible to help prevent contamination or potential spread from pet to pet, or from pet to people.

pooper scooper

Talk to your veterinarian about which intestinal parasite prevention is best for your pets!


Coming Soon to an E-Mail Near You!


  Highlights for next month's issue of The Pet Clinic Newsletter


Don't miss these interesting topics in our May Newsletter:


 - Haven't heard about our fantastic boarding facility, The Pet Lodge? Learn all about it next issue!


 - 'Tis the Season: Hurricane Season approaches! Are you and your pets prepared? We'll help with our 'Guide to Pet Hurricane Preparedness'


- Participate in our Client Services Poll in next month's newsletter! Would you like to see our veterinarians provide more/different services? Have an idea for ways that would make your veterinary visit more convenient for you and your pets? We want to hear from you!


- More Myth Busters!


Check out The Pet Clinic's


NEW Interactive Blog:

'Pet Talk'



Join in the Discussions as Dr. Parker and Dr. Elswick discuss important topics and answer your pet questions!


Check back often for more topics, and feel free to Share our Blog page with your friends!

                    April 2015
In This Issue
April is Spay/Neuter Month!
Myth Busters
Time for tick prevention!
Intestinal Parasites in Your Pet



Take advantage of our April Spay/Neuter Discount Event and take $75 OFF any dog or cat spay or neuter all month long!
Offer Expires: April 30, 2015   

Happy April!

Here at the Pet Clinic, we are gearing up for the busy Spring season! Here's what's happening this month . . .

First, we are kicking off our annual Spay/Neuter Discount Event! Take advantage of $75 OFF all spays and neuters for the whole month of April!

We are also focusing on flea, tick, and intestinal parasite prevention this month since we commonly see a rise in parasites in pets this time of year. This month's newsletter discusses all you need to know about fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites, so be sure to check out these informative topics!

With our focus on parasite prevention, we are also offering special limited-time rebate offers! For a limited time, when you purchase 6 months of Nexgard for flea and tick prevention AND 6 months of Heartgard Plus for heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention, you will receive a $25 mail-in rebate. With your purchase of 1 full year of Heartgard Plus AND 6 months of Nexgard, enjoy even more savings with a $50 mail-in rebate!

Last but not least, we are excited to announce The Pet Clinic's own interactive web blog! Join in discussions as our own doctors address current-event pet topics, common misconceptions, and other pet topics of interest! Get answers to common pet questions from your own trusted veterinarians! Visit our website at and click on Blog to see what new, interesting things we are talking about! Don't forget to check back often for more chances to join in the discussions, and feel free to share our blogs with your Facebook friends!
Fleas, Ticks, and Other 'Icks'


"They're Ba-ack!"


Happy Spring! We could also say, 'Happy flea and tick season,' but it just doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Spring is here, and we are all anxious to shake off our cabin fever and get outdoors - even our pets! But guess who else is happy to see that Spring - and a surplus of warm bodies - has finally sprung? That's right; fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.

Hopefully your pets have been on flea and tick prevention year-round. If not, now is the time that we see many pet owners starting to use prevention because now is the time that we start seeing those icky fleas and ticks outdoors, on our pets, or even on us!

Many people make the mistake of waiting until they see a flea or tick before beginning prevention. Actually, prevention should begin long before you see these pesky little parasites since for every 1 flea that you see, there are 25 that you don't see! A colony could already be established even if you see only a few or even NO fleas or ticks. That's why we recommend flea or tick prevention year-round. The idea is to prevent them from even establishing contact or a colony on your pets or in your house rather than battle them once they have 'set up shop.'
The same is true for intestinal parasites. Did you know that your dog or cat could have internal parasites (worms) and never show any symptoms? It's true! We commonly associate diarrhea, vomiting, distended abdomen, or dry hair coat and skin with possible intestinal parasites, but many times pets show NONE of these symptoms but are still infected. Some of these intestinal parasites can even be transmitted to people (yikes!), so it's important that your pet has regular fecal examinations and intestinal parasite prevention.

This issue, we'll tell you what you need to know about fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites (worms) in your pets, how to prevent them, how to treat them, and more!


How do I safely remove a tick? 

If you do spot a tick, remove it immediately by treating the area with rubbing alcohol and plucking the parasite with tweezers. Alcohol helps loosen the grip of the tick's mouth parts to allow for easier removal.It is important to be careful when removing the tick, however, as any contact with the tick's blood can potentially transmit infection to your pet or even to you. Please also note that just pulling the tick off may leave the biting head or other body parts still embedded in your pet's skin which can lead to skin irritation, infection, and persistent risk of passing on disease. Always use tweezers as close to the skin as possible to try to get the tick's entire head when pulling it off. Throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it. Instead, drop the tick in a jar of alcohol to prevent it from reattaching itself to your pet.

Information provided by ASPCA
Itching to Learn About Fleas and Your Pets?


Flea life cycle, flea allergies, home infestation, prevention, and more . . .

scratching dog  



Fleas, fleas, fleas!

It seems like they are everywhere this time of year - and they are only going to get worse as Summer approaches.

Fleas can be a major problem for dogs and their owners. Even if they never leave the house, dogs can be exposed to these blood-sucking parasites. Preventing flea infestations is the best protection against them.

Any dog or cat will itch from a flea bite or the presence of fleas on their skin, but did you know that some dogs and cats are actually allergic to fleas? Just like other skin allergies, dogs and cats can mount an immune (allergic) reaction to flea saliva. This leads to hair loss, intense itching to the point of causing physical harm to themselves, bleeding and scabbed skin, skin infections, and extreme discomfort. Itching and hair loss usually occur at the pet's waist or sides due to scratching, or over the base of the tail. In the 'biz,' we refer to this as flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD. Many cases will require antibiotics, medicated shampoos, antihistamines, and sometimes even immunosuppressant medications to get the allergic response under control and provide relief for your pet.
Dog with severe FAD and 'hot spots' as a result of fleas.
Image via  Zoetis (visit

This time of year, our office is full of pets suffering from FAD, and most of the cases we see could have been prevented by using a year-round flea preventive medication.
To protect your pet and home from fleas, it helps to understand the flea life cycle: (Provided by Trifexis)

1. Egg Stage:
An unseen flea can begin feeding on your pet within seconds. They must feed to begin reproduction, and female fleas will begin producing eggs within 24 to 48 hours of taking their first blood meal. A single female flea can produce 40 to 50 eggs per day, up to 2,000 in their lifetime! The eggs readily fall off the hair into the environment, so you can think of your pet as a flea-egg 'salt shaker.' Wherever the pet spends the most time is usually where the heaviest flea infestations are found.


2. Larval Stage: 

  Larvae hatch from eggs in 1 - 6 days under appropriate environmental conditions. Their principal food is adult flea feces ('flea dirt'). Flea larvae are small, thin and white, measuring 1 to 2 millimeters in length (about the thickness of a dime). Indoors, flea larvae tend to live deep in carpeting or under furniture. Outside, they develop best in shaded areas or under leaves or similar yard debris. Any area of a yard where a pet seeks shelter from the heat or cold is potentially a great environment for fleas.


3. Pupa Stage:

A mature larva transforms into a pupa inside a silk cocoon. Under most household conditions, the adult flea will emerge in 3 - 5 weeks. However, a fully developed flea can remain inside the cocoon for up to 350 days, a reproductive strategy that enhances the flea's chance of survival. This helps to explain how a flea infestation can seemingly "explode" out of nowhere, even inside your home.

4. Adult Stage:

Adults emerging from cocoons can begin feeding immediately if a host is present. They are attracted by body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide. The flea feeds through a tiny, slender mouth part called the proboscis. Before feeding, it pumps saliva, which contains an anticoagulant, onto the skin. This prevents the blood from clotting, and the protein it contains can cause a severe allergic reaction in the host (flea allergy dermatitis).

Adult fleas can survive throughout the winter on pets as well as on wildlife.

FAQ: What can I do to stop fleas before they affect my pet and/or become an infestation? 
Use monthly flea prevention!
Year-round flea prevention is easy! One simple application or administration once every 30 days keeps the fleas away.
You can choose oral medications (given by mouth), topical medications (applied to the skin), or a flea collar, depending on which is more convenient for the lifestyle of you and your pets.

Many products are available, but not all are created equal!
We highly recommend purchasing flea preventive medications from your veterinarian rather than purchasing over-the-counter or grocery store brands. Veterinary products have undergone extensive safety and efficacy research compared to 'generic' brands. Any pet may have an adverse reaction to any product at any time, but the risk is higher in generic products that have not been thoroughly tested for safety. Your veterinarian knows which products are best suited for your and your pet's individual needs, those that have been proven to be effective (not just a waste of your money), and most importantly, those that are SAFE for your pet.

Dr. Parker and Dr. Elswick's favorite products for flea prevention include Trifexis (an oral medication for dogs only that protects against heartworms, fleas, and intestinal parasites); Nexgard (an oral medication for dogs only that protects against fleas and ticks); Comfortis (an oral medication for dogs and cats that protects against fleas only); Advantage Multi* (a topical medication for dogs, cats, and ferrets that protects against heartworms, fleas, and intestinal parasites); Frontline Plus (a topical medication for dogs and cats that protects against fleas and ticks); and Cheristin (a topical medication for cats only that protects against fleas only). If you prefer a collar, our veterinarians recommend the Seresto
collar (a collar for dogs and cats that prevents fleas and ticks for up to 8 months).
Click on the links provided to learn more about these individual products.
*Note: Advantage Multi (R) should not be confused with Advantage (R) or K9 Advantix (R). These products sound similar but are very different in their use.
We have all heard of different 'home remedy' or 'natural' flea treatments, but evidence of the safety and efficacy of these products and mixtures has been unreliable and anecdotal. Very few, if any, have been researched scientifically to prove if they are safe or effective. For example, garlic and/or onions are neither safe nor effective at treating fleas on your pet! This is a common misconception that many people have, unfortunately, adopted to be true. Contrary to what you may have heard, garlic and onions can be TOXIC to your pet and should never be used as a flea treatment. Ingestion of garlic and/or onions may lead to anemia, weakness, seizure-like symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, even death. Cooking does not inactivate the toxin, and concentrated forms such as garlic and onion powders often used in cooking are even more toxic in smaller doses.


Ask your veterinarian if you have a certain product in mind so that you can decide together which flea preventative is best for you and your pets!


FAQ: What should I do if I discover fleas in my home or on my pet?

Even with flea protection for your pets, you still want to be sure your household is rid of fleas that were hidden in
egg, larva, or pupa stages when you treated your pets. If you discover fleas in your home or on your pet, consult your veterinarian; he or she is your best source of information about proper and safe flea control for your pets.


Eliminate fleas on your pet using a rapid-acting flea medication that your veterinarian recommends.


Eliminate fleas in your home by steam cleaning (not shampooing) carpets and upholstery to kill pre-adult flea stages; vacuuming frequently; using premise sprays, foggers, bombs, or aerosols; laundering bedding, blankets, pillows, and throws weekly; and treating all pets in the household with an approved flea product. The most effective means of controlling severe environmental flea infestations is the use of a pest management specialist (exterminator).


Prevent future infestations by keeping your pets on a regular, effective flea preventive medication.



Information provided by Trifexis and Frontline Plus


 What's Inside Your Pet?


 Your Pet May Have an Intestinal Parasite Infection - And Never Show Symptoms


YUCK! Finding worms in your pet's stool can be gross, shocking, and worrisome.


Almost everyone knows to seek treatment for their pets if they notice worms in their stool. But, did you know that only a few types of worms are actually visible in the stool? The rest can easily go undetected, especially since we now know that some dogs and cats may have intestinal parasite infections and NEVER show symptoms. What's even more worrisome is the fact that some of these intestinal parasites can be passed on to people.


Most intestinal parasite infections are transmitted by 'fecal/soil-oral' transmission. When a pet defecates, parasite eggs are passed in their stool onto the ground, and some microscopic stool particles containing the eggs may even stick to their fur. When they (or another pet) walk into the stool and later lick their paws, eat stool or soil directly, touch the contaminated fur of another pet with their mouth, etc., the eggs are accidentally ingested. Once inside your pet, eggs hatch, mature into adults which start producing more eggs that will be shed into the stool, perpetuating the risk of transmission. Some intestinal parasites can even be transmitted in-utero (from mother to puppy/kitten before birth), through milk, or even through the skin!



"What's even more worrisome is the fact that some of these intestinal parasites can be passed on to people."


Here's what you should know about common intestinal parasites that may infect your pets - and you:


  • Roundworms - Roundworms are commonly thought of as a 'puppy' or 'kitten' parasite, although they may infect any dog or cat at any age. Many infected pets show no signs of infection. If symptoms exist, roundworms may cause distended abdomen, diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting or regurgitation, or lack of energy. Severe infections may be fatal to puppies or kittens. These parasites are more prevalent in puppies and kittens because they are transmitted in-utero or from drinking their mother's milk. They can also be transmitted through fecal/soil-oral transmission. Adult roundworms range between 9-18 cm in length and can sometimes be seen in the stool. Adult roundworms appear as single or multiple 'strings of spaghetti' when seen in the stool, although their eggs are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. These parasites are zoonotic, which means they can be passed on to humans. Roundworm infections in humans are especially dangerous because the larval stage of the parasite can migrate indiscriminately throughout the body's organs, not just in the intestinal tract. This is called 'aberrant migration,' or 'visceral larval migrans.' Larvae migrate through the body, literally digging tunnels and holes into body organs. Small children are especially at risk of infection due to poor hand-washing hygiene and tendency to explore with their hands and then put their hands into their mouths. If the larvae migrate into the eye, it is termed 'ocular larval migrans' and is a common cause of blindness in children. One type of roundworm carried by cats, Toxocara cati, is a known risk to pregnant women since, if infected, the parasite can pass on to the unborn fetus or newborn baby through milk. This is why pregnant women should never change litter boxes, garden without gloves, or otherwise expose themselves to cat feces. But, don't worry! You can still keep your beloved kitties even if you are pregnant - just ask someone else in the household to take over litter box duty, or scoop the litter box at least within 24 hours since roundworm eggs do not become infective until they are exposed to the environment for 24 hours.


  • Hookworms - Hookworms are common in both young and adult pets. Many infected pets show no signs of infection. If symptoms exist, hookworms may cause dry hair coat, poor weight gain, lack of appetite, diarrhea, or anemia in pets. Severe infections can be fatal to puppies and kittens. Hookworms are not seen in the stool, so infection is especially difficult to detect based on signs/symptoms alone. Adult hookworms range in size from 10-20 mm in length; much smaller than roundworms. Eggs are found in soil or passed in stool and transmitted by fecal/soil-oral transmission, or percutaneously (through the skin). Pets kept in unsanitary conditions and allowed to walk in feces can become infected when tiny larvae penetrate the skin of their paws. This can cause reddened skin or rash known as 'cutaneous larval migrans' (larvae migrating through the skin). Hookworms are zoonotic. Humans are at risk of infection through the same means of transmission as pets: through fecal/soil-oral transmission due to poor food or hand-washing hygiene, or through the skin. Humans can even develop similar rashes due to larval migration into the skin. Walking barefoot or sunbathing in the grass are both risk factors for percutaneous transmission of hookworms to humans.


  • Whipworms - Whipworms are also common in both young and adult pets. Many infected pets show no signs of infection. If symptoms exist, whipworms may cause diarrhea with/without blood or mucus, weight loss, anemia, lack of appetite, or lack of energy. Severe infections may be fatal to puppies and kittens. Adult whipworms range from 4-7 cm in length, but they are not seen in stool. Eggs are passed in the stool by infected animals and are transmitted by fecal/soil-oral transmission. Unlike roundworms and hookworms, whipworms do not penetrate into the skin, pass in-utero, or through milk. They are not zoonotic, so there is no risk to humans when a pet is diagnosed with whipworm infection.


  • Tapeworms - There are two types of tapeworms that are common in pets in the South, and they are transmitted in different ways. The most common tapeworm seen in dogs and cats is Dipylidium caninum, also known as the 'flea tapeworm.' Cats and dogs become infected with this tapeworm by accidentally ingesting a flea, usually when grooming or scratching at a flea. Theoretically, humans could become infected if they ingested a flea infected with this parasite as well, although reports of this are very rare; people can not become infected directly from their infected pet. Tapeworm infections typically do not cause signs or symptoms in pets. Small segments of tapeworms, called proglottids, can often be seen in stool or around the anus of infected pets as they exit the body. The segments are short, blunt, and sometimes can be seen moving or 'crawling' on the pet's anus, fur, or on surfaces after they have dropped off. The segments dry out in the environment and resemble grains of rice. When these segments are detected, your veterinarian will treat your pet for the tapeworms themselves AND fleas since, to become infected, your pet must have had at least one flea.


The other common tapeworms that we see in cats and dogs in our region are parasites of the genus Taenia (several species), and this parasite is not transmitted by fleas. Pets become infected with this parasite by ingesting carrion or hunting prey. These worms can be unbelievably long (up to 5-7 yards) inside the host's - i.e. your pet's - intestine, but surprisingly, usually do not cause any signs or symptoms. Segments (proglottids) containing eggs are shed through the stool of cats, dogs, and other predators, and are then transmitted through fecal/soil-oral transmission; but they don't directly infect cats or dogs. Mice, rabbits, and other small prey ingest these eggs and the worm's life cycle continues inside these hosts. Eggs hatch into larval stages which migrate through the body of these small hosts, and eventually the larvae encyst in the abdomen and other organs. Cats and dogs become infected when they consume the prey and accidentally ingest the larvae. Humans may become infected by consuming raw or undercooked meat (pork, beef, venison, rabbit, etc.). Similar to human infection, indoor-only pets that do not feed on carrion or prey can still become infected if given fad raw or undercooked meat diets.

  • Coccidia - Coccidia (particularly Isospora species) are protozoal parasites, not worms, that are common in puppies and kittens but may infect pets of any age. Many infected pets show no sign of infection. If symptoms exist, they may include lack of energy, diarrhea (often mustard-colored, bloody, and/or containing mucus), lack of appetite, and dehydration. These parasites are transmitted by fecal/soil-oral transmission and may be more common in immunosuppressed (including young and geriatric) pets.




Many other intestinal parasitic or bacterial conditions exist that may cause similar or identical symptoms as the common parasites listed above. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any abnormal signs in your pets so that proper testing and treatment can be administered as soon as possible. If your pet has not had a fecal screening within the past 6 months, or if your pet is not currently on a monthly intestinal parasite preventive medication, call and schedule an appointment to discuss these with our veterinarians today!


Thank you for your continued trust in our care of your pets and your family! 


Dr. Parker, Dr. Elswick,

and the staff of The Pet Clinic


The Pet Clinic
8195 B Woolmarket Road
Bilox, MS 39532

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