Parasites can be a very unpleasant problem for your pet. However, not only are the symptoms very inconvenient and debilitating, but they can also have serious repercussions for the long-term health of your pet. Some types of parasite can even affect humans in your household.
Whilst it is strongly advised that owners invest in proper preventative care to protect their furbabies against the ill-effects of parasite infestations, regular testing is also recommended and normally forms a part of your pet’s regular wellness exams. Parasite testing is usually recommended for the detection of internal parasites, and in particular, intestinal worms. This is because, unlike external parasites such as ticks, they cannot be seen with the naked eye.
We are pleased to be able to offer a comprehensive parasite testing service at our veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, OH.
Internal Parasite Testing
One of the easiest ways to determine if your pet is suffering from internal parasites is to provide us with a stool sample. This is one of the reasons why a stool sample is routinely requested at your pet’s regularly scheduled wellness exams.
Intestinal parasites are a major cause of infection in pets, and some such as tapeworms and roundworms can be spread to the human members of your family too. In fact, some studies have suggested that as many as 14% of people in the United States have been exposed to roundworms as a result of their pets having the infection.
Stool samples can enable us to diagnose intestinal parasites in your pet because eggs, larvae and even the worms themselves can be found in the specimen provided. However, since the eggs and larvae are impossible to see with the naked eye, the sample will need to be examined under a microscope. Before this, however, the sample will need to be prepared. This involves either smearing it across a microscope slide or using a centrifuge to spin down a stool sample suspended in a special solution prior to floating it in water to separate any eggs or larvae.
If any parasites are detected, our team will be able to recommend the best course of treatment to deal with the problem and restore your pet to full health.
Heartworms are arguably the most dangerous internal parasite. They are spread by mosquitos, and rather than living inside your pet’s intestines, they migrate through the blood to the blood vessels that serve your pet’s heart and lungs. Dogs make the most natural hosts for heartworms, but they can affect cats too. They can grow up to around 12-13 inches in length, and as their numbers swell, they block the flow of blood around your pet’s body, causing debilitating symptoms, organ damage and eventually organ failure and death.
Prevention against heartworms is considered essential, but annual testing is still recommended. This is because the earlier a potential heartworm problem is detected, the less of an impact it will have on the health of your pet.
We are able to check for the presence of heartworms using a special blood test called an antigen test. This is where we examine a sample of your pet’s blood for specific heartworm proteins called antigens, which are released by adult female heartworms. In most instances, antigen tests can accurately detect infections with one or more adult female heartworms.
If your pet is found to be affected by heartworms, our team will be able to advise you what treatment is available and will start your pet on the necessary medication as soon as possible. Treatment for heartworms is unpleasant and is a fairly long and complex process. As with all parasites, prevention is far better than trying to treat them.
If you have further questions about parasite testing, please get in touch with our veterinary team who would be delighted to help. Alternatively, call Brekke Veterinary Clinic in Castle Rock, OH today to schedule an appointment.