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We know dogs get them, but do we really know what they do to our pet’s body and how to avoid futures incidences? Let’s take a closer look at the lifecycle of intestinal parasites.

How it works:

The most common way that these pathogens are spread are by..you guessed it… feces.

Without your knowledge, your canine can be infected with one of these pathogens at any given time, but displays no symptoms due to your dog is hiding his discomfort, or his immune system is strong enough to keep it at bay. The parasitic eggs enter through the dog’s mouth (although some can enter through skin or nasal passages) and travel down to the intestines where they hatch and feed off the host for 2-4 weeks. These hatched organisms will lay millions of eggs in the process, which are eventually shed through the dog’s feces.

The common myth is that when the dog’s waste breaks down and dissipates, the eggs will die off with it, but unfortunately this is far from the truth. Although the stool may only last a few weeks to a few months on the ground’s surface, the eggs can remain active for years afterwards. Even if your dog is not the type to eat found feces, he could become infected by simply coming in contact with a contaminated area. Then the process starts all over again and the ingested eggs travel down to the intestines to reinfect the animal.
lifecycle intestinal parasites part 1

But what happens if the eggs continue to linger in the environment without a dog to come by and serve as their new host?

When the eggs are first introduced to the outside environment, there is a 2-3 week incubation period for the embryo within to develop. Following that, the larvated egg can survive up to years waiting for a host (many withstanding freezing temperatures and the blistering heat).

These eggs won’t stay in one place either – natural elements like rain and wind can carry them far distances and travel along the bottom of a passerby’s shoe.
lifecycle intestinal parasites part 2
Alarmingly, many of these microscopic structures, unseen by the human eye, are zoonotic, meaning that they can infect humans as well. Humans can unconsciously become infected in a contaminated environment by simply touching the ground and not washing their hands afterwards. Most commonly this happens with children as they are more likely to be interacting the ground while playing, but it can also happen with adults while gardening, lounging, or eating outdoors.

Canines and humans alike may only experience mild flu-like symptoms, but some with weakened immune systems or in a vulnerable position can have more devastating effects. In some cases, the hatched parasite can find its way back up the esophagus and into various other parts of the body – it has documented to reach as far as the eye, causing blindness to the host.


The culprits:

Although hard to spot in the poop without proper medical testing, it is good to be familiar with these terms to have a sense or what you are your canine friend are dealing with. The following are the most common parasites and viruses that infect our beloved canines.

Whipworm Source: myvictoriavet.com
Whipworm
Source: myvictoriavet.com
Tapeworm dogbreedinfo.com
Tapeworm
Source: dogbreedinfo.com
Salmonella
Hookworm Source: wikipedia.org
Hookworm
Source: wikipedia.org
Parvovirus virology.wisc.edu
Parvovirus
Source: virology.wisc.edu
Cryptosporidium
Roundworm Source: roundwormpictures.com
Roundworm
Source: roundwormpictures.com
Giardia Source: thepetwiki.com
Giardia
Source: thepetwiki.com
Campylobacteriosis Source: wikipedia.org
Campylobacteriosis
Source: wikipedia.org

The Facts:
Parasite What does it do? Infect humans? Longevity in environment?
whipworms

Whipworms

Sucks blood Yes 7 years
hookworm

Hookworms

Sucks blood Yes 1 month
roundworm

Roundworms

Feeds on nutrients Yes 2 years
tapeworm

Tapeworms

Feeds on nutrients Yes 1-3 years
parvovirus

Parvovirus

Destroys white blood cells No 7 months – 2 years
giardia

Giardiasis

Feeds on nutrients Yes 1 week – 3 months
salmonella

Salmonellosis

Invade cells in intestines and blood Yes 4 weeks
crypto

Cryptosporidiosis

Feeds off epithelial cells Yes 6 months
campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis

Destroys epithelial cells Yes 9 days
What do all these contagions have in common?
  • They all travel down to the intestines where they feed off the host causing digestive issues
  • They can be spread through contact with contaminated waste, food, water, and soil
  • They are hard to detect as their eggs are not shed in every excretion
  • It can take multiple round of deworming and antibiotic medication to rid the infected of the pathogens
  • They can withstand many weather conditions due to protective cysts (their outer shell)

How to protect ourselves and our furry friends?

For humans, make sure to keep your skin clean by washing your hands and removing your shoes when you reenter your home. Wear gloves while gardening and wipe down your gardening tools after each use. As for your dogs, be sure to wash their toys and bedding on a regular basis and give them a bath 1-2 times per month.

Most importantly, get those eggs out of there before they become active! We recommend you to scoop your yard once every 1-2 weeks (if not more). You may also consider a disinfectant spray to use in your yard a few times per year. Too busy or find it hard to motivate yourself? Consider hiring Pet Poo Skiddoo to take care of “business”.

The Lifecycle of Intestinal Parasites
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