Companion and Zoo Animal Parasitology

External (fleas, lice, mites) and internal parasites (hookworms, lungworms, roundworms and tapeworms) are found in and on companion animals world wide. Infestation with external parasites can cause severe itching and hair loss while signs of infection with internal parasites depends on the organ system affected and, in many cases infection, may not lead to any clinical signs. Some of the most common parasites of dogs and cats are roundworms which can also infect humans, especially children, which can cause quite severe infections.
Testing for external parasites is carried out via microscopic examination of plucked hair. Detection of internal parasites is primarily carried out by microscopic examination of faeces, but other methods may also be used.
The Pet Vet Lab at the IEC offers the following tests for the detection of parasites in companion animals:
Test  Parasite detected  Comment 
Faecal Egg Flotation Hookworms Roundworms Tapeworms
  • The analysis of faecal samples collected over different days increases the sensitivity of all test methods. 
  • The number of worm eggs is not an indicator of the adult worm burden in the animal.
  • The recommended frequency of testing depends on the risk status of the anima but should be done at least twice yearly.  
Baermann technique  Lungworm  Detects shedding of lungworm larvae in faeces. Samples from three consecutive days should be tested as larval shedding may be intermittent.  
Skin microscopy  Lice Mites Pluck of hair from affected area required.