What are Threadworms (Strongyloides stercoralis)
Threadworms, technically known as Strongyloides stercoralis, are tiny parasites that live inside a dog’s digestive tract. They are picky eaters and thrive in hot, humid, subtropical climates, especially along the Gulf Coast and southeastern United States. Threadworms are spread through the saliva of ticks and the stool of infected animals. Dogs become infected by ingesting threadworm eggs or larvae. Threadworm larvae have a unique ability to penetrate skin, especially in areas with poor sanitation, as in high-density kennels, rescue facilities, pet stores and other areas where feces builds up. Hot temperatures and humidity increase the risk of threadworm transmission. Newborns can get threadworms from their mother’s milk, especially if the bitch becomes infected late in her pregnancy or while she is lactating. Threadworm larvae migrate through the bloodstream and tissues of the throat, windpipe and lungs, ending up in the dog’s small intestine. Despite their small size, threadworms cause severe illness, including diarrhea, tummy aches, weakness, lethargy, dehydration, coughing and skin problems. People can also become infected with threadworms and develop symptoms similar to those of dogs.