Parasites (human risk)



The tapeworm is a parasitic worm, which lives in the intestines of dogs and cats. Parts of the worm (containing the eggs) are often passed in the feces or may stick to the hair around the rectum.

Tapeworm infestation often produces no noticeable symptoms. Occasionally it produces stomach upset, diarrhea, poor hair coat, weight loss and vague signs of discomfort.

Diagnosis of tapeworms is confirmed by finding the small, whitish; "sesame seed" sized segments around the pet's rear end (under the tail). They can also be detected in the bedding where the animal lays.  Unlike most other types of worms, the eggs are not generally found in a routine stool examination performed at the doctor's office.  The tapeworm segments are normally flat (and can be seen to move) but as they dry out they take on the characteristic appearance of the sesame seed. Tapeworms are not passed directly from one pet to another.  They require the intermediate stage that utilizes the flea for transmission.  Fleas then hop from one pet to another and the worms are transmitted when the new pet, during normal grooming behavior, swallows the flea.  People will not get this worm from their pets.


  1. The most effective method of deworming is accomplished with an injection of a safe, non-             diarrhea producing medication.
  2. Control the source of the problem, that is rid the pet and the home of fleas.
  3. Repeated dewormings throughout the year are recommended since reinfestation is common          and unfortunately no medication is preventative.


1. Ascarids

roundworms are common in young kittens and puppies. They are potentially contagious to people (children are at the greatest risk).

2. Ancylostoma

hookworms. These are also contagious to people.

3. Trichuris


4. Coccidia

infection (a concern for pregnant women)

5. Giardia

infection (dysentery organism)

Young animals are often born with worms. Puppies and kittens are therefore routinely dewormed.




Zoonotic Disease is the official term for any disease that people can "catch" from animals.

More than 150 diseases are transmissible to people (1/3 of all known diseases!) so preventing these problems is very important.

Some of the most common zoonotic diseases are:

  1. Roundworms
  2. Hookworms
  3. Toxoplasmosis (a type of coccidia)
  4. Cat scratch fever
  5. Ringworm
  6. Scabies
  7. Tuberculosis
  8. Salmonella

The National Center for Disease Control recommends that veterinarians advise their clients of the potential risk and take measures to prevent the problem. Dogs and cats do NOT get “pin worms”, nor transmit them to people, contrary to what some medical doctors suggest.

    The first 2 listed diseases are worms. They are preventable.

Tri-City Pet Hospital makes the following recommendations:

# 1 All pets should be dewormed yearly.  It's not safe to assume that your pet is parasite-free.  Even indoor pets can get worms.

 # 2 Pets should be given a once-a-month worm preventative pill. This medication is inexpensive and has no side effects. As long as your pet is given the monthly pill it will be protected from all of the contagious intestinal parasites that are transmissible to people.

 # 3 Pregnant women should not clean out the cat's litter box or do any gardening (working with the hands in the soil) without gloves on.

Remember the incidence of pet to human worm transmission in our area is low, so don't panic.  Rather, caution is "the key".


Web site designed by Ed Acton for Tri-City Pet Hospital