What are Capillariasis?
Capillariasis is a parasitic disease that is caused by the Capillaria worm, three species of which are relevant to dogs. The infection is commonly misdiagnosed because the clinical signs are non-specific, and the parasite’s eggs, which are necessary for correct identification of the disease, are shed intermittently. Infection typically happens when a dog comes into contact with contaminated food or water.Capillaria worms are a type of parasitic roundworm that can infect dogs, taking up residence in the nasal passage, the respiratory tract, or the bladder. The disease is not typically life-threatening, and the species of Capillaria worms found in dogs are not usually transferrable to humans.
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Symptoms of Capillariasis in Dogs
Many dogs with capillariasis are asymptomatic, though some animals may exhibit symptoms arising from the infection. Symptoms are not specific to capillariasis and vary according to the type of infection. They include:
- Sneezing and nasasl discharge (nasal)
- Coughing, wheezing, and sneezing (pulmonary)
- Painful urination and incontinence (urinary)
Causes of Capillariasis in Dogs
Capillariasis is caused by the Capillaria worm, which is a parasitic nematode found worldwide and which can be spread through contaminated food, water, or feces. It varies in size and appearance according to species and more commonly occurs in wild animals than in dogs or cats. Capillaria boehmi is responsible for nasal capillariasis, Capillaria aerophilus for pulmonary capillariasis, and Capillaria plica for capillariasis in the bladder. Infection is more likely to occur in dogs that live in endemic regions.
Diagnosis of Capillariasis in Dogs
Because the symptoms of capillariasis are non-specific, the veterinarian will need to examine your dog in order to correctly diagnose the infection. If your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior or general discomfort, visit your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will perform an initial examination and take down your dog’s history, which will help establish a complete medical profile.
The veterinarian may conduct laboratory testing as part of a routine exam, though blood tests and radiographs are not useful in determining capillariasis. A diagnosis is confirmed by the identification of Capillaria worm eggs in the urine, nasal fluids, or feces. Adult Capillaria boehmi worms may also be sighted during rhinoscopy, and a biopsy of affected tissue may reveal the presence of Capillaria worms buried in the body. With careful inspection beneath a microscope, the veterinarian will be able to determine which type of worm has infected your dog.
Treatment of Capillariasis in Dogs
Capillariasis can be treated with anti-parasitic medication, such as ivermectin. If no complications have arisen due to the infection, treatment may be unnecessary, as the parasite may clear out so long as your dog is not reinfected. The veterinarian will reexamine your dog’s feces following treatment to ensure that eggs are no longer present.
Recovery of Capillariasis in Dogs
Make sure that your dog has access to fresh food and clean water both during and after the recovery process, and avoid contact with material that may contain Capillaria eggs, such as urine or fecal matter. If your dog exhibited symptoms while ill, monitor him or her daily for any unusual signs. The symptoms should clear as the infection is resolved, though the veterinarian will need to conduct another examination in order to ensure that the parasite has been removed.
Reinfection is possible, especially if you live in an endemic region. The prognosis for capillariasis is good overall.
Capillariasis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have a pup that when she urinates a small white worms comes out. She's had a fecal test done, no parasites found. And has also been treated for tapeworms(2 weeks ago) Any idea what this might be? Any info helps! Thank you :)
It sounds like Keima may have Capillaria plica which is a small threadlike roundworm 15-60mm in length and white to yellow in colour; they normally stay in the bladder or upper urinary tract and most dogs are asymptomatic. Treatment using ivermectin is usually sufficient; after treatment take a urine sample for analysis at your Veterinarian’s office (note to other readers, ivermectin isn’t to be used in Collie breeds and isn’t approved for use in dogs). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Thank you, I really appreciate your help!
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