Dogs and cats can become hosts to many intestinal parasites, some of which can cause
serious symptoms and/or be transmitted to people. For this reason, we follow the CDC’s
recommendation to deworm all new puppies.
We also recommend that all puppies have at least TWO negative fecal examinations over the course of their initial preventative care cycle to ensure that they are parasite free and none have been missed. Adult dogs should be tested yearly.
Finally, we recommend monthly heartworm preventatives YEAR-ROUND, as these
preventatives also contain ingredients to prevent intestinal parasites like roundworms,
hookworms, and in some cases, whipworms and tapeworms. We typically recommend products like Interceptor Plus, Heartgard and Trifexis. Talk to one of our veterinary team members to determine the best choice for your pet. Manufacturer rebates are often available for 6-12 month supply purchases.
Below is a brief description of the common intestinal parasites we encounter in practice
and will check your pet for with their routine fecal examinations:
Roundworms earned their name because of their tubular, or “round,” shape. There a
couple of different species that can affect your pup, but the most important to know
are Toxicaris canis and Toxicaris leonina.
Dogs (and cats) can get roundworms from a variety of carriers. The most common
source is other dogs; because infected dogs shed microscopic roundworm eggs in their
feces, your dog could become infected by getting too close to another dog’s poop. He or
she doesn’t even have to eat it – a simple sniff or lick is all that’s needed. Roundworms
can also be spread by other animals such as rodents, earthworms, cockroaches, and
Roundworms can be transferred to humans. Contact with contaminated soil or dog feces can result in human ingestion and infection. Roundworm eggs may accumulate in significant numbers in the soil where pets deposit feces. Once infected, the worms can cause eye, lung, heart and neurologic signs in people.
Children should not be allowed to play where animals have passed feces. Individuals who have direct contact with soil that may have been contaminated by cat or dog feces should wear gloves or wash their hands immediately.
Hookworms are the second most common intestinal parasites found in dogs, and they
are less commonly found in cats. Your pet can become infected when larvae get into
the animal’s skin or the lining of the mouth, which may happen if your pet eats or rolls
around in infected feces, for example. Cleaning up dog poop immediately can help
prevent the spread of hookworms, and some heartworm preventatives are also effective
against other parasites like hookworms.
Once inside an animal, hookworms actually bite into the intestinal lining and suck blood,
and infections can result in potentially life-threatening blood loss, weakness, and
malnutrition. Plus, hookworm infections are zoonotic, and can be passed to people. In
humans, the larvae produce severe itching and tunnel-like, red areas as they move
through the skin and can cause intestinal problems if eaten.
The whipworm is one of the four most common intestinal parasites of dogs. Whipworms
reside in the cecum, which is inside your dog’s body where the small intestine and large intestine meet. Dogs become infected with whipworms by swallowing infective whipworm eggs in soil or other substances that may contain dog feces.
Dogs that are infected with a few whipworms may not have any signs of infection. More
severe infections can cause bloody diarrhea and severe disease.
Tapeworms get their name from the fact that they look like — you guessed it — tape.
The body of the tapeworm is segmented up to its neck. Its mouth is filled with six sets of
teeth that the parasite uses to attach itself to the intestinal lining. Once it’s attached, it
moves in permanently and starts stealing its meals from your pooch. Tapeworms are
usually transmitted when a dog digests a flea during grooming. Dogs can also get
tapeworms by ingesting the eggs shed by other animals or by hunting flea-infested
Giardia is a microscopic, protozoan parasite (but not a worm!) that causes inflammation
of the intestinal tract and subsequent diarrhea that can be very serious for both pets and
people. It has been referred to as backpackers’ disease because of the risk of exposure
when hiking. Giardia is transmitted by oral ingestion of water or food that has been
contaminated by stools of infected people and animals. Acute infection after exposure
can last from 1-2 weeks. The clinical signs of Giardia in animals and people are very
similar and may include:
· Greasy stools that tend to float
· Stomach or abdominal cramps
· Upset stomach or nausea/vomiting
· Dehydration (loss of fluids) and weight loss
Coccidiosis is a disease caused by the tiny, single-cell pests, coccidia. These parasites
can live in the wall of your dog’s intestines. They are most common in puppies, but can
still infect older dogs and cats, as well. Our canine friends can become infected by swallowing dirt or other things in an environment that is contaminated with coccidia-
infected feces. If your dog is infected with coccidia, the symptoms can vary. In adult dogs, there may be no signs of infection, while in puppies the symptoms can be more
serious. The most common symptom is diarrhea; in severe situations, the diarrhea can
be accompanied by blood in the stool.
If you have any questions or concerns about intestinal parasites and your pet, please speak to one of our team members! If your pet has diarrhea or you’d like to have their fecal sample checked for parasites, check out our blog on info and tips for collecting and submitting a sample!
If your pet has diarrhea, blood in their stool, possible intestinal parasites, or if your pet is having accidents in the house, our veterinarians recommend a fecal sample examination. Your pet’s fecal sample will be centrifuged and analyzed for any intestinal parasites, protozoa or excessive bacteria.
Want to drop off your patient’s sample? Download our handy Fecal Collection Sheet for instructions, helpful tips and a brief questionnaire about your pet’s signs and symptoms to make this process…well, you know, less poopy!
Just remember, our veterinarians will have to have seen your patient within the last year in order to prescribe any medication, so if your pet’s feeling unwell, it’s best to have them seen!
Download the City Paws Fecal Collection Tips sheet here!
An important part of the puppy training process, and in some cases, for adult dogs who need a refresher, is finding the right trainer. Being in an urban area, St. Louis area dog owners are lucky to have a variety of choices. Slick marketing and added-convenience features can make some trainers seem wonderful, but our veterinarians strongly recommend that you spend some time learning more about the trainers and their methods before enrolling your dog. We recommend you choose trainers who only employee positive reinforcement training techniques, and avoid shock collars, pinch/prong collars, or other forms of negative correction.
We’ve compiled a list of trainers that are recommended by Dr. Colleen Koch, a St. Louis area veterinary behaviorist (that’s a veterinarian who has done an ADDITIONAL several years of exclusive behavior-only residency, research and training after graduating as a general practice veterinarian), as well as trainers who as of September 2018 were certified as Fear Free trainers. This list is not all-inclusive, and there may be other great trainers in the area that we haven’t learned about yet, so if you’ve found another trainer you’d like to work with, check out this article on what questions to ask to learn more about their methods!
Download our Recommended Trainer List here!
Many serious diseases can be prevented with vaccinations. With nearly 90 million pet
dogs in the United States, your pet is likely to come in contact with an infectious disease
at some point in their life. Even if your pet is indoors, your dog can be exposed to
viruses carried in the air, in dust, or on clothing. Vaccination is a safe and inexpensive
protection against costly, and in some cases, deadly diseases. Our hospital follows the recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association for general guidelines, but also works with you to customize your pet’s vaccination program based on their age, breed and lifestyle!
Here are the diseases our general vaccination protocols will protect your dog against:
Canine distemper is a very contagious and deadly disease caused by a virus. Dogs and
ferrets as well as certain species of wildlife, such as raccoons, wolves, foxes, and
skunks, are at risk. Although there is no cure for distemper, the most important fact to
remember is that it is preventable through vaccination. For dogs that have developed
clinical signs of distemper, the prognosis is very guarded depending on the immune
response and severity of symptoms. Dogs that develop neurological signs are the least
likely to recover.
While dogs of all ages can become infected with canine distemper virus, puppies--
especially those with poor immune systems or those that are unvaccinated or not
completely vaccinated—are at the greatest risk for this nasty virus, which is spread
through the air or by direct contact. It invades the tonsils and lymph nodes first, and
then spreads to the respiratory, urinary, digestive, and nervous systems.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a nasty, highly contagious illness, spread from dog to dog
by direct or indirect contact with feces. That means that your dog can get CPV from
either eating an infected dog’s poop or simply sniffing an infected dog’s hindquarters! It
can be especially hard on puppies who haven’t yet been vaccinated because their
immune systems haven’t yet fully developed.
CPV shows up in two forms: intestinal and, more rarely, cardiac. Symptoms of the
intestinal form of CPV include:
· Extreme vomiting
· Severe diarrhea, often containing mucus or blood
· High fever or, sometimes, a low body temperature (hypothermia)
· Severe abdominal pain
Because the intestinal form of CPV results in fluid losses and because the affected
intestines do not absorb nutrients and proteins properly, he’ll weaken, lose weight and
become dehydrated pretty quickly.
The cardiac form of CPV tends to attack very young puppies, causing cardiovascular
and respiratory failure and, unfortunately, often leads to death.
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that can affect many animals including wildlife,
rodents, dogs and people. The disease is caused not just by one specific strain
of Leptospira spp. but rather by any of a number of different serovars (types) within
this bacterial genus. They exist everywhere in the world but are most commonly
prevalent during periods of heavy rainfall.
Your dog can contract the organism through direct contact with another infected animal,
by eating infected meat or most commonly through contact with anything that has been
contaminated by the urine of an infected animal. Most infections occur when dogs go
swimming in and/or drink infected water, but in reality most anything (plants, dirt, objects
or water) can be a potential source of infection.
Always fatal, rabies is a viral infection that affects your pet’s brain and central nervous
system (CNS). Primarily spread through the bite of infected animals such as foxes,
raccoons, bats, and skunks, rabies is a zoonotic infection that can affect all mammals,
meaning it can be transmitted to humans. For this reason, rabies vaccination is required
by law for all dogs and cats.
BORDETELLA (KENNEL COUGH)
Kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is an infectious bronchitis that could be compared
to a cold with a scratchy throat in people. The most common symptom of canine kennel
cough is a harsh, hacking cough that sounds as if something is stuck in your dog’s
This annoying cough is most commonly caused by highly contagious bacteria; in other
cases, the cause can be viral. Dogs in highly populated situations such as boarding
facilities, doggy day care, and dog parks are most likely to get kennel cough, which can
be transmitted by air or by contact with infected surfaces. Puppies and younger dogs
are at the greatest risk, but older dogs can also become infected.
Also known as canine influenza, the dog flu is cause by a particular strain of the
influenza virus that can be passed very easily between dogs. Luckily, even though it’s
similar to the flu in humans, it isn’t zoonotic, meaning it can’t be transmitted from pet to
parent. It’s important to note while canine influenza can stand alone, it is often involved
with other infections that combine to cause what’s known as “kennel cough.” While
there have been outbreaks of pure canine influenza virus throughout the world and in the Midwest, it has only recently been identified. We recommend vaccinating for this if your dog travels to the groomer, day care or boarding facilities.
Did you know that puppies learn and develop a big part of their adult personality by 16 weeks of age? Their window for accepting and experiencing different stimuli (think strangers, day care, grooming, other dogs, kids) can start to close at just 12-14 weeks of age?
If you want a happy dog that takes life in a joyous stride, the clock is ticking. The positive (or negative) associations that young dogs develop during this critical brain development can last a lifetime … for better or worse. So let’s make it better!
Get your puppy off to a great start by with this handout, written by a Fear-Free certified expert, Dr. Kathyrn Primm. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask a member of our team!
Read the 5 Secrets to a Well-Adjusted Puppy here!
Having a new puppy can be so exciting….and so tiring! Housetraining can be an exhausting, but ultimately essential part of puppyhood.
In general, avoid negative correction (no more rubbing their noses in it), and set your puppy up for success with frequent outings, a small confined safe zone or crate, established mealtimes and lots of praise! Try taking your puppy to the same area consistently to go to the bathroom, and a separate area for play.
Understand that accidents may happen for the few months, but if your pet’s housetraining isn’t going as expected or you have any concerns, please speak to a member of our team.
Check out this great The Secret To Housetraining Your Puppy handout from Dr. Kathyrn Primm, a Fear-Free certified veterinarian, for more helpful tips! As always, we’re just a click, email or phone call away!
The new puppy supply checklist can be extensive! From food, crates, bowls, and leashes to the obligatory Halloween costume, new puppies need a lot of stuff!
While it’s a lot of equipment, don’t ignore their need for play and mental enrichment. Giving puppies the time, space and toys to play and exercise will save you time, money and headache in the long run. Learn more here, with this great handout about puppy enrichment, Don’t Let Boredom Ruin Your Puppy’s Brain, from Fear-Free certified veterinarian Dr. Kathyrn Primm.
Check with our veterinary team on our favorite playthings, chew toys and puzzle feeders at your next visit, or shoot us a quick note via email or social media!
Nail trimming can be tricky for a lot of pet parents. Some patients still need professional assistance- our veterinarians can help you evaluate your pet’s individual situation and in some cases, recommend medication to make this procedure less stressful. The good news is that are some tricks at home that can help many pets get used to you giving them nail trims.
Check out this video, or read here for some Fear Free nail trimming tips!
How To Trim Puppy Nails Without a Fuss
Our veterinarians will work with you to determine what vaccines and preventative care schedule is best for your puppy, based on their age, breed and lifestyle. In general, our hospital follows the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)’s most recent canine vaccination guidelines to help provide a solid foundation for your puppy’s preventative healthcare. However, depending on your puppy’s past vaccines, response to vaccines, future lifestyle, and a host of other factors assessed by your veterinarian at their first visit, your puppy may not follow this exact schedule. We’ll work with you to create a customized plan to give your pet the best protection and start on their long, happy life!
The following document outlines our general recommendations for canine patients and addresses not only vaccinations, but intestinal parasite prevention, heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention, and some early training guidelines.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding vaccines, diet, behavior or preventatives (heartworm, flea, tick, and intestinal parasites), please don’t hesitate to
ask a veterinarian or staff member.
Canine Preventative Care Schedule
All dogs are exposed to mosquitos that can carry heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is a serious, and potentially fatal, disease that can infect dogs of any age. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, and foxes. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas here in St. Louis, they are considered important carriers of the disease. For more information about heartworm disease, check out the resources at the American Heartworm Society.
St. Louis dogs are at significant risk for heartworm disease and we treat several dogs each year. Treatment is extensive, painful and costly, and much easier to prevent!
We recommend keeping your pet on preventatives, like Interceptor Plus or ProHeart 6 year round.
All puppies are sent home with a complimentary dose of Interceptor Plus– a monthly, oral chewable heartworm and intestinal parasite preventative.
We have chosen Interceptor Plus as our go-to for most patients, because it is the most comprehensive product for heartworm and intestinal parasites- it covers two more additional intestinal parasites than other preventatives like Heartgard. It gives your pet protection against heartworm disease, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. However, we will work with you to determine the best lifelong prevention based on your pet’s lifestyle, risk assessment, taste preferences and convenience options you might choose.
Have trouble remembering to give that monthly pill? We also offer Proheart 6– an injectable heartworm preventative that lasts 6 months for adult patients. We even remind you when it’s time to come in for the next injection!
In some cases, oral preventatives may not recommended for your pet (i.e. those with a food allergy or reaction to oral preventatives). For those pets, we recommend Advantage Multi- a monthly topical heartworm, flea, and intestinal parasite preventative. NOTE: Advantage Multi does NOT cover ticks and additional preventatives may be necessary.
Can’t make it into the clinic to pick up your preventatives? All of our preventatives can also be found on our online pharmacy and shipped directly to your door!