roundworm puppyRoundworms is the common name for several species of nematodes or ascarids. The name roundworms is derived from the tubular shape of the worms. Several species can infect dogs, but the species Toxocara canis can cause significant problems in humans as well as the species found in raccoons, Baylisascaris procyonis.

Dogs can become infested with roundworms by ingesting the eggs in the environment deposited in fecal matter, through the placenta while in the womb, or in the milk when nursing. The larvae then migrate through the liver and lungs of the puppy where they enter the air way, are coughed up, and then swallowed. They then settle in the intestinal tract absorbing the nutrients that should be meant for your puppy. A lot of damage is done when they are migrating through the body.

In humans, accidental ingestion of roundworm eggs can also migrate internally causing a syndrome know as visceral larva migrans. Signs of  VLM  can be characterized by hepatomegaly (liver enlargement), lung disease, and increase in eosinophils from allergic reactions. The larva can also migrate through the nervous system causing neurologic disease.
In some children, the larvae can migrate to the eyes causing inflammation and may result in blindness.

roundworms 300x221 Roundworms in Puppies

Contamination of the environment by raccoons has caused  significant problems in some regions. The migration of the raccoon roundworms also cause more significant disease problems. Accidental ingestion has also occurred when children may have chewed on firewood, or when playing in contaminated sandboxes or playgrounds. The best defense for this is to be sure children do not chew on objects that may have been contaminated and to wash their hands after playing outside.

Because of the potential infection of people, puppies and dogs should
be de-wormed every 2 weeks starting at 2 weeks of age and then once a month as maintenance when 4 months old. The newer heartworm and flea preventions also include a dewormer to control hookworms and roundworms. Dogs infested with roundworms can pass thousands of eggs in their feces. These eggs can survive in the environment  and be
infective for several years.

For more information, visit Pets and Parasites What every Pet owner Should Know about Hookworms and Roundworms

Roundworms -Ascariasis

Allergic Reactions in Pets

Pets,  just like humans, can have allergic reactions to just about anything. The reactions can range from mild itching, to hives and whelps, or even life-threatening anaphylaxis. Allergies occur when a substance the pet is exposed to triggers an overactive response from the immune system. Allergies can develop slowly over time, or can develop suddenly.

The most common allergic reaction in pets is that to fleas. The flea saliva has a protein component that causes the pet to itch every time they are bitten. Sometimes, you never see the flea because the pet grooms themselves and can ingest the flea. The most common area for the dog to itch is just above the base of the tail. Once the skin is broken, and the dog licks and chews at the area, secondary skin infections set in. Here in Houston, the hot bed of all things allergic and the perfect storm of warm temperatures and humidity, is ideal for growing parasites and pollen. We recommend giving the heartworm and flea control medications all year round to control the fleas.

Allergies can also develop to injections, such as antibiotics or vaccines. Every effort has been made to improve the quality of vaccines and reduce the episodes of reactions, but every dog is different and so is their immune system. The majority of these reactions can occur rather quickly, so waiting around the hospital to check out after an injection is sometimes a good thing because the reaction can be treated quickly.

The other common allergen is food allergies, such as wheat, corn, beef and others. Dogs with food allergies can have intestinal problems and can have itching and swelling around the face and eyes. Food trials or blood tests can help to identify the culprit and then you have to avoid that ingredient in the diet. Special foods that have novel proteins, such as salmon and potato are often fed for a 6-8 week trial to see if the allergies improve. Once the dog is not itching, a protein is re-introduced to the dog one at a time to identify the allergen. Sometimes, the dog needs to stay on the special diet.

The next common allergen is inhaled allergens, such as pollen, dander, dust mites, etc. Yes, I have even had a Bichon that was allergic to human dander. The majority of these dogs present with anything from licking and chewing at their feet, to generalized itching, hair loss and secondary infections. Ear infections are also a common secondary development because the skin is inflamed from the allergy and the warm, dark, moist environment of the ear sets up the perfect growth media for yeast and bacteria.  Cortisone and anti-histamines will help relieve the symptoms for a short time but for real control, the allergen needs to be identified with either skin tests or blood panels. Once the specific allergens are identified, a special “vaccine’ of the allergy causing culprits are mixed up and desensitization injections are given to help reduce the symptoms over time.  Secondary infections are controlled with antibiotics and/or  medicated shampoos. Newer spot-ons have been developed to help heal the integrity of the skin barrier to help it fight off the secondary infections better and omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also help by reducing the allergic response and improving the health of the skin.

Another allergic causing culprit is insect or spider bites. In this scenario, the dog is outside playing, and then comes back in with usually a swollen nose and muzzle. Snake bites can also present with the same signs. If the swelling continues to worsen, a call or visit to your veterinarian is warranted.

The next allergic reaction that can occur is a contact allergy. The reason I am writing this post is because one of my patients had a possible allergic reaction to a common carpet freshener that was applied to freshen the carpet before the holidays. Because we are investigating this product with the company, I am not going to identify the product specifically, but give general recommendations on how to test products before applying them to your carpets.

The story goes as follows, the owners applied the carpet freshener as directed. Later they noticed the dog’ s skin was bright red and the pet had vomited. They bathed the pet in cool water to calm the skin, not knowing what had caused the reaction and the skin improved. The next morning the dog walked across the carpet and broke out in hives and big whelps. The pet was then presented to my hospital where we administered benadryl and some cortisone to relieve the allergic reactions. The owner then recalled that the pet may have had a slight reaction the last time they applied the product.  Now the owners are going to have to steam clean the carpets to remove the product.

Because pets have a lot more skin area exposed to the carpets, they may be at a greater risk for contact allergies or simply irritation. Since their noses are closer to the ground, they can also inhale the products, which may result in allergic reactions.

So, what can you do to see if your pet could have a problem? Just like when ladies have to test the hair dye before applying it to their hair, you may want to test a small amount of the product on the belly of your pet. If a red whelp or a red irritation develops, you may wish to skip that product and stick with steam cleaning.  If you suspect your pet may have had a reaction to a product, take your pet and the product to your veterinarian. Your pet should be bathed to remove any product from the skin and then treated with antihistamines. The product should then be reported to the company for further testing. You should also write down the UPC code and the product batch code. Most of these products have usually been tested rigorously, but a super sensitive pet may still have a reaction to just about anything.

Can You Have Allergies And Still Have A Dog?

Many dog lovers simply do not have a pet due to allergies.  It isn’t the pet itself that causes the allergies, but the pet dander that most dogs and cats shed naturally that cause people to have allergic reactions.  Keeping your pet well-groomed may allow you to keep it in your home.

Some people are allergic to cats and cat dander and not to dogs, therefore they are able to tolerate dogs and not cats. Others, like my nephew, are allergic to dogs and not cats. My nephew loves dogs, he and his family actually have four outside dogs. Since the dogs do not live in the home he is able to maintain his allergies and still have a rewarding relationship with his dogs. But what if you live in town and cannot keep your pets outside? Some non shedding breeds of dogs such as Poodles or Portuguese Water Dogs seem to have less dander and are more easily tolerated by people with allergies. For example my sister had a Cocker Spaniel named Charlie that she dearly loved, but Charlie made her eyes and sinuses run; so sadly my sister had to find a new home for him.  A few years later she really wanted another dog and decided to try sharing her home with a pair of poodles. Sassy and Lucky are now a permanent part of her home and she can enjoy having a dog without the misery of allergies.

So it is possible to have a pet in your life and still control your allergies. With help with your doctor you can