This handout is designed to give you an overview of some of the internal parasites that can infect your dog. Intestinal worms can be a serious problem in young puppies. Heartworm disease is a major life-threatening problem in dogs. Speak to your veterinarian about the most appropriate parasite control program for your dog.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs and other mammals that primarily affects the liver or kidneys. The bacteria (Leptospira) that cause leptospirosis, commonly called leptospires, thrive in water. Infected or recovered carrier dogs may act as a source of the infection. There are three main forms of the disease. Antibiotics such as penicillin, ampicillin, and amoxicillin, are reasonably effective against the acute stages of leptospirosis if begun early, although most affected dogs require intensive care in the veterinary hospital.
Lyme disease is a growing concern as ticks migrate. It often presents as a lameness but can also show up as kidney failure. Treatment with one of the following antibiotics doxycycline, amoxicillin, or azithromycin lasts for 4 weeks. Preventives are available to help protect your dog from this disease.
Melioidosis is a bacterial infection that is typically associated with tropical regions. The bacteria that causes melioidosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei, is usually found in soil and water. It is introduced to these areas when it is shed in the milk, feces, urine, or wound drainage of infected animals. In dogs, melioidosis can cause a variety of clinical signs. It mimics a number of other diseases; therefore, it is sometimes referred to as the great imitator. Treatment of melioidosis requires prolonged courses of antibiotics. The organism is resistant to many antibiotics, meaning that specific, expensive antibiotics may be required.
The Ebola virus is very contagious and is transmitted through blood, body fluids and tissues, but not through air, water, or food. Ebola affects humans, non-human primates, and is carried by fruit bats. Other species do not appear to be affected although there has been evidence of exposure to the disease in dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. Domestic animals are not believed to transmit the virus; however, there is a risk that they could transmit body fluids such as saliva on their fur to other humans. Any potential exposure to Ebola should be reported to your veterinarian who will contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Rabies is one of the most devastating viral diseases affecting mammals, including dogs and humans. It is a fatal disease caused by infection with the rabies virus. Rabies virus is found throughout the world, including North America, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Europe. Following a bite from a rabid animal, the disease progresses in stages. Dumb rabies is the more common form in dogs. There is progressive paralysis involving the limbs, distortion of the face and a similar difficulty in swallowing. Vaccination is the cornerstone of rabies prevention.
Ringworm is the common name given to a fungal infection of the superficial layers of the skin, hair, and nails. The common name of ringworm is somewhat misleading, in that it is not an infection caused by a worm, and the infected areas are not always ring-shaped. In the dog, ringworm lesions usually appear as areas of hair loss (alopecia) that are roughly circular.
Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of the cat. Almost all cats will become infected with roundworms at some point in their life and most often as kittens. Roundworms are not particularly harmful to adult cats, but large numbers may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and debilitated older cats.