The presence of tapeworm segments in feces or on the perineum can be important. While they generally are benign parasites,
tapeworms indicate the patient likely has a flea infestation of some degree, unless there is a potential that the patient
has been consuming rats.
Roundworms and hookworms in particular can result in anemia and poor absorption of essential nutrients for a variety of reasons,
from increased motility to inflammatory bowel syndromes.
A part of the workup of any patient with significant skin disease should include at least one fecal flotation by centrifugation
to confirm the presence or absence of parasites that might complicate the diagnosis.
Even if a patient is on a monthly product to prevent and control heartworms and internal parasites as recommended by the Companion
Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), a properly performed fecal examination is important. We know that compliance by owners is
not what it should be. Additionally, not all internal worms are prevented by available products.
It is clear that no organ system exists in a bubble, free of the influence of another. For that reason it is important to
rule out parasites as an inciting or contributing factor in all disease presentations, including dermatology cases.
CAPC guidelines call for monthly year-round use of an external parasite product to control fleas and ticks as well as the
monthly year-round administration of a broad-spectrum product to control internal parasites and prevent heartworms. These
products should be used in all animals in all parts of the country the year around.
Dr. Paul serves on the AVMA Clinical Practitioner's Advisory Committee on Biologics and Therapeutic Agents as the AAHA representative.
He is a former president of American Animal Hospital Association, and has been part of the National Commission on Veterinary