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ARF is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to rescuing homeless dogs and cats in Mobile! Be a part of this lifesaving effort!

Internal Parasites

Worms! This is one gross animal ailment that pet owners dread! But, luckily worms and other parasites are easily preventable. This article will teach you a little about some common parasites, how ARF treats and prevents internal parasites and what you should do if you pet has worms!


Intestinal parasites (worms and protozoans) are very common in animal shelters. In order to diagnose and treat parasitic infections, routine fecal testing is used.  This simple test can confirm the presence of intestinal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms while also detecting the presence of protozoan parasites such as Coccidia and Giardiasis.  


Parasites, in general, can be debilitating to domestic pets causing anemia, bloody stool, vomiting and in some cases, even death.  This is particularly true for young puppies.  It is also prudent to point out that the symptoms of parasitic infestation can likely mimic more serious illness such the Parvovirus.




At ARF, all incoming animals are fecal tested and dewormed.  As an additional precautionary measure, animals transferred from shelters are also treated for Giardiasis and Coccidia.  Animals are randomly retested during their stay at the ARFanage and especially if symptoms appear.  They are also given monthly heartworm preventative which covers the treatment of most internal parasites.


At Home


Veterinarans usually include fecal testing as part of annual or bi-annual exams.


In general, in our area pets should be given a monthly heartworm prevantive that also protects them against some other internal parasites. Talk to your vet about your many options for heartworm preventative and what other protections it affords your pet. Despite these treatments, your pets may occassionally get worms or other parasites.


Some internal parasites are easily spotted in your pets stool. If you see any worms in your pets stool, contact your veterinarian. There are general dewormers available over the counter but they do not treat all types of parasites. Therefore, consult your vet if your pet has parasites. If your pet experiences gastrointestinal upset or seems sick in any other way, your veterinarian will do a fecal test to look for the presence of worms, worm eggs or protozoan parasites that are not visible in the stool.


Common Intestinal Parasites in Dogs:


- Roundworms


- Hookworms


- Whipworms


- Tapeworms


- Coccidia


- Giardia



Click here to learn more about specific parasites affecting shelter animals.





Unlike intestinal parasites, heartworms are parasites of the blood. These worms live inside the heart and can cause serious problems if not treated. Heartworms are transmitted when a mosquito bites a dog. Heartworms are extremely prevalent in our area and dogs must be given a monthly heartworm preventative to protect them from this dangerous parasite. Heartworms are such a serious issue that we have an entire page about them here. Also, learn more about our heartworm positive dogs are ARF and ways you can help on our ARFans in Need Page.