What are Trichinosis?
Dogs and humans can both contract Trichinosis or pork roundworm infection by consuming contaminated meat that is raw or undercooked. Once the parasite is ingested, the adult parasites cause gastrointestinal distress and after two to seven days, the adult parasites breed, and their larva travels through tissue and muscles, symptoms progresses to severe muscle inflammation, and can cause death.
As their immunity is lower, puppies and elderly dogs are at a higher risk of infection by pork roundworm. Once the parasite has spread to your dog’s muscles, it may remain there for years despite treatment. Therefore, catching this parasitic infection before the parasite enters the muscle tissue is very important. If untreated, death can occur 4 to 6 weeks after the initial infection.Trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused by the roundworm parasite Trichinella spiralis. The disease is most commonly contracted through consumption of contaminated pork, so T. spiralis is often called pork worm.
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Symptoms of Trichinosis in Dogs
- Upset stomach
- Muscle pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle inflammation
Causes of Trichinosis in Dogs
A pork roundworm infection is caused by the parasite Trichinella spiralis, or pork worm. Dogs become infected with the parasite by consuming contaminated pork products. In order to avoid giving your dog pork roundworm, never feed your dog undercooked pork or allow him to eat pork scraps that have been sitting out. Additionally, always take precautions to prevent your dog from getting into trash, as discarded foods are a source of contaminants, and your dog could contract pork roundworm by eating old pork.
Diagnosis of Trichinosis in Dogs
You should bring your dog to see the veterinarian upon initial signs of extreme gastrointestinal distress, as this is a symptom of many potentially serious diseases. You will need to give your veterinarian information on your dog’s medical history, as well as explain exactly when your dog’s symptoms began and how they developed. The most important clue you can give your veterinarian is to report if your dog has eaten or had access to any unusual foods or substances.
Standard analyses will be undertaken on your dog’s blood and urine in order to rule out other conditions. A urinalysis and chemical blood profile will be taken, along with complete blood count, which measures red and white blood cell counts. An elevated white blood cell count will point to an infection. The definitive diagnostic test for pork roundworm infection, however, is testing of a sample of your dog’s feces. If it has been confirmed through sample testing that your dog has pork roundworm and your dog is exhibiting symptoms indicating that the parasite has spread into her muscles, your veterinarian may need to take a sample of your dog’s muscle in order to test for the parasite.
Treatment of Trichinosis in Dogs
Treatment of pork roundworm infection will consist of an anthelmintic, a type of antiparasitic drug that is designed to expel parasite worms.
Recovery of Trichinosis in Dogs
If the parasite has made it into the second life stage and infected your dog’s muscles, he may need additional rounds of the anthelmintic; however, if caught earlier, your dog should have a swift and total recovery. In either case, it is important to monitor your dog for signs of symptoms appearing or returning and contact your veterinarian immediately should either occur.