What is Bladder Worm?
The nematode parasite called capillaria plica infects the urinary tract of dogs, cats and weasels to cause inflammation problems in their urinary systems. These problems include bladder inflammation (cystitis), frequent daytime urination (pollakiuria), painful or difficult urination (dysuria) and blood in the urine (hematuria) in your pet. It accomplishes this by infecting the urinary bladder and sometimes the ureter and renal pelvises of dogs and cats. The parasite is introduced into your pet’s system by the consumption of earthworms containing first-stage larvae. Then the larvae infiltrates the intestinal walls of the urinary bladder to lay its eggs to continue the cycle of life. Though this is a worldwide problem, it appears that wild animals are the most common primary hosts.
Capillaria plica (bladder worm) is a nematode parasite of the urinary tract of canids (dogs), felids (cats) and mustelids (weasels) which can cause cystitis, pollakiuria, dysuria and hematuria. These infestations can cause inflammation in the urinary tract.
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Symptoms of Bladder Worm in Dogs
While most dogs and cats are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t show symptoms, there are some animals who will display symptoms of pollakiuria (frequent daytime urination), urinary incontinence and urinating in unusual or abnormal places. The host animal may or may not display the other symptoms of cystitis, dysuria or hematuria. Since many animals are asymptomatic, your pet may not exhibit signs of physical pain or discomfort for long periods of time if at all. There is a prepatent period of approximately 60 days in which the larvae will travel and mature and lay eggs for cycle continuation. This means that your pet could likely have these parasitic visitors in his or her urinary system for over 60 days before the first signs are noted if at all.
- Frequent daytime urination
- Lack of bladder control
- Urination in unusual places
There are several types of bladder worm or capillaria plica that can be inhabiting your family pet.
- Bacterial - The most common bacteria found are Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Streptococcus, less common are Klebsiella, Proteus and Pseudomonas
- Pasteurella is more common in cats than in dogs
- Mycoplasma is not a common cause of these urinary tract infections and is usually found in a coinfection relationship with bacteria
- Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonotic disease which is the result of filamentous bacteria that tend to infect the kidney as well as many other organs
- Fungi, yeast and parasites are considered uncommon causes of urinary tract infections
Causes of Bladder Worm in Dogs
These infections are caused by the dog consuming an earthworm containing a first-stage larvae. The first-stage larvae are eliminated from the earthworm in the small intestine of the host animal, which may be your dog. The larvae molt and invade the walls of the urinary bladder in the intestine via the bloodstream, then it travels into the kidney and down the ureter. Eggs are laid into the lumen of the bladder and later are excreted with the urine. There is a period of approximately 60 days called the prepatent period between the time when the parasite infects its host and the time when the first signs or demonstration of the parasite becomes known; for example, by the discovery of oocysts or eggs noted in blood or feces.
Diagnosis of Bladder Worm in Dogs
If your pet is exhibiting a change in his urination habits such as urinating inside the home, a veterinary visit is warranted to determine why this change has taken place. The veterinarian may begin with blood tests to rule out possible cuases for the behavior, like urinary tract infection or tumor.
Diagnosis of the bladder worm infection requires microscopic examination of urine sedimentation and evaluation of possible hematuria. The microscopic examinations will reveal the presence of eggs in the urine sedimentation. Once the bacterial infective is identified, a treatment plan can be developed and started.
Treatment of Bladder Worm in Dogs
Generally, treatment of these infections requires the administration of antibiotics like fenbendazole, ivermectin, levamisole, albendazole and moxidectin. These medications may be administered orally, subcutaneously or intramuscularly. Multiple treatments may be required if subsequent testing of urine sedimentation reveals the presence of the parasite in any stage of development. Testing will need to be done to determine if the animal is clear of parasites before treatment will be considered complete and successful.
Recovery of Bladder Worm in Dogs
Additional and subsequent testing will be required to show your dog to be clear of parasitic infection. This additional testing may require another round of medications or administration of another of the recommended drugs to clear the infection. Once it is cleared, it will be necessary to monitor urinary tract health on a regular basis and to treat the dog in a timely manner when and if it occurs again.
Bladder Worm Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog is peeing with snall worms in it and seems to be listless/exhausted these past few days. He's just about 3-4 months old and I don't know what to do. Please help. Is there any natural medication/treatment that we can try for him to feel better?
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My dog is diabetic and receives 14 units 2 times a day. She urinates often and anywhere. If we are gone for long periods of day and it dries up it's like mopping up syrup. Today we noticed she urinated in the dining room and there was small white worms in it. Do we need to get her checked on just give her worm medicine??
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Not sure if you are able to help me as we are in the UK, but my Working Cocker Spaniel has had the obvious signs of Bladderworm since the beginning of November 2016. We have already tried Ivermectin and Panacur, and are about to Levisamole. I'm just trying to research in case this last one also does not work. Can you please advise, bearing in mind we are in the UK.
The UK, my motherland, I am originally from Rotherham. There is no licensed product for the treatment of bladder worm in dogs (whether it is in the UK or USA); normally Veterinarians prescribe ivermectin (which you already used) in a single dose of 0.2mg/kg (0.1mg/lb) administered as a subcutaneous injection. Other reported treatments include levamisole, fenbendazole (Panacur which you’ve tried) and albendazole. Just like ivermectin, there are no licensed products in the UK containing levamisole or albendazole for use in dogs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
What should I do if my puppy peed a bladder worm? The worm looks just like the picture.
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