What is Flatworm Parasite?
Flatworm parasite infection in dogs, or Heterobilharzia Americana, is found in the veins of dogs and other wild animals, mostly raccoons. It is prevalent in the southeastern states. Eggs of the parasite enter and pass through the tissue that leads to the intestine. This parasite is waterborne, and uses the snail as an intermediate host. The larvae leave the snail via the water, and find a host that is warm-blooded. They hook onto the skin and burrow into it and then travel to the lungs. After this, they infect the veins of the organs within the abdomen and follow through another cycle of reproduction. The eggs then make their way into the walls of the intestines, and this is when they are passed into the feces. Some eggs, rather than being passed into the feces, get into the bloodstream and infect the organs with disease.
Heterobilharzia Americana is a parasitic infection that infects the veins of dogs. Dogs that live among marshy areas and water are most affected by this infection.
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Symptoms of Flatworm Parasite in Dogs
When a dog is infected with Heterobilharzia Americana, this flatworm can cause him to be very ill. Symptoms of this parasite infection include:
- Loss of weight
- Excessive urination
- Excessive thirst
There are several types of environments where this parasite is more apt to be found. It is important to be proactive and try to keep your loved one away from these types of environments, if possible. Environments include:
- Aquatic, warm areas
- Certain southeastern states (Texas, Louisiana)
- Subtropical climates
Causes of Flatworm Parasite in Dogs
This parasite is known to be caused by several different sources. Life in specific environmental types can lead to the specific causes of your dog becoming infected with this parasite. Causes of Heterobilharzia Americana include:
- Transmission of larvae from snails to an intermediate host
- Transfer of eggs within contaminated water
Diagnosis of Flatworm Parasite in Dogs
If you have seen a flatworm or any type of parasite in your dog’s feces or suspect that your dog may be ill, a trip to the veterinarian is necessary. The veterinarian will do a complete examination on the dog and then get a sample of his feces. The veterinarian may have you collect a sample before the appointment, so that he can test for Heterobilharzia Americana eggs. This is done through sedimentation and added saline. This will allow the veterinarian to get a clear picture of whether the dog is infected with the parasite.
The medical professional may also conduct other tests, such as abdominal radiography and ultrasounds of the abdomen and intestines. This will check for any thickened walls of the intestines and abnormally large lymph nodes, spleen, and liver which is a normal reaction to the body being infected with Heterobilharzia Americana eggs.
Treatment of Flatworm Parasite in Dogs
It is very difficult to treat this disorder, and there are very few ways a veterinarian may suggest. Treatment can include:
The veterinarian may prescribe medication to treat flukes, or flatworms. Medications can be given simultaneously or individually. These medications are praziquantel and fenbendazole and can cause the parasites to contract and become paralyzed. The dog may be hospitalized during the deworming process.
Homeopathic remedies may also help the dog get rid of worms, and your veterinarian may be able to recommend an alternative-type treatment.
Recovery of Flatworm Parasite in Dogs
Once the medication is given, the dog should begin to recover. The veterinarian will recommend further treatment if the dog is hospitalized. If he has been given the medications early enough then the infection has a much greater chance of successfully dissipating. This infection can be prevented. In order to prevent this from happening to your dog, keep him away from water in canals and ponds. If you do live close to these areas, you can talk to you veterinarian about other prevention methods and follow his advice.