The Internal Parasite and Your Boston Terrier

All dogs are susceptible to contracting an internal parasite, particularly as puppies. Following is information on some of the parasites that most commonly affect dogs, as well as suggestions for preventing infestation.


Tapeworms are long, flat and ribbon-like. They can grow to several feet in length and are made up of segments that are about 5/8 of an inch long.

They often appear around the dog's anus or base of the tail in small segments that look like rice.

There are two common ways dogs contract this internal parasite. First, a tapeworm larvae may mature in an intermediate host, such as a flea. Through licking and chewing, the dog may ingest the flea and become infected. Second, some game animals, rabbits and rodents serve as intermediate hosts. Your dog can become infected if he eats an infected animal.


Hookworms are very small, almost microscopic intestinal worms that can cause anemia and related problems, possibly resulting in death, in puppies. Puppies may be born with them or may ingest them. They can be transmitted to humans by skin penetration.


Roundworms are a long, thin, spaghetti-like internal parasite. They can result in a dull coat, pot-bellied appearance, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. Puppies may get roundworms in utero, through nursing, or ingestion.


Whipworms are one of the most difficult worms to get rid of. The eggs can last for years until conditions are right for them to mature. They are not usually seen in the stool. They can cause intermittent mucousy diarrhea. They are not usually transmitted through the mother since they only have a 3-month life cycle.

Each of the worms mentioned above has a different life cycle. To keep your BT worm-free, keep your yard free of fecal matter. If possible, fenced your yard to keep other dogs from contaminating the area. Have a fecal exam done twice a year to check for the presence of worms.

What if your dog gets worms? Because of the differing life cycles, different worms require different medications for treatment. Be sure to see your veterinarian so you can get the right medication for the type of worm your dog has. After treatment, your veterinarian will re-test until there are at least two negative samples.

Heartworm Disease:

The internal parasite known as heartworm is worm that is 6 to 14 inches long and lives in the heart and nearby blood vessels of the lung. A dog may be infected with several worms at one time. Heartworm disease is life-threatening and expensive to treat. Fortunately, it is easily prevented with a monthly preventive. Depending on where you live, your veterinarian may recommend preventive (for example, HeartGard prescription heartworm medication) year-round, and an annual or semiannual blood test.


This is an infection cause by a protazoa known as giardia lamblia. Puppies are most commonly affected, particularly in areas where lots of puppies are located together. Older dogs may also get the infection, but may not show signs unless they become stressed. Transmission of giardiasis is through fecal-oral contact or through close contact to an infection organism. Contaminated food and water may also cause infection, and the disease can also be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms include lack of appetite, weight loss, fever and diarrhea. Symptoms normally appear 1 to 2 weeks after infection. They may subside, then reappear. This infection is not always apparent in a fecal exam. Testing for canine giardiasis is done through an immunologic test which detects about 90% of infections. Treatment is not always necessary; frequently, the body can defeat the infection on its own. There are number of medications that can be used for treatment. Your veterinarian can diagnose through testing and recommend the best medication for your specific case.

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