Dogs Exhibit A Variety Of Signs

A writes, “My farm dogs are always catching moles and eating many of them. My youngest Lab is about 14 months old. I observed her coughing, like she was trying to throw up. I put her outside. I found 2 large pink larvae on the floor and threw them out, not realizing that was what was making her cough. A few days later my husband found a dried up one in the dog bed. I showed it to my veterinarian and he confirmed that it was a Cuterebra. I worm my dogs regularly, and was told they should be wormed for tapeworms. Will this get rid of any more larvae that she may have ingested? Thank you.

A, it seems we have some misunderstandings going on here. I’ll address them in the order you presented them in your note.

If the dogs eat moles, which are rodents, consuming the rodent’s intestinal tract, they can contract tapeworms. .

Neither tapeworms nor Cuterebra larvae can cause coughing. Coughing and throwing up (vomiting) are different. While a gagging cough can result in vomiting, they are two different functions. Coughing is a function of the respiratory tract, vomiting is a function of the intestinal tract. If you can make some video of the dogs when they are doing one of these actions, you can take it to your pet’s doctor so he can tell you which thing the dogs are doing.

When you “worm” your dogs (actually, it’s deworming), you give them medication for the purpose of removing worms from the intestinal tract. The only exceptions are when deworming medications are used to remove lungworms or liver flukes. Lungworms are in the respiratory tract and liver flukes are in the liver.

Cuterebra, however, are not worms. As you correctly referred to them, they are larvae, a developmental stage of a fly. They live under the skin until they leave the body. At no stage do they live in the intestinal or respiratory tract. In extremely rare cases they migrate through the central nervous system (CNS), usually by entering the nasal passages.

Tapeworms may be diagnosed by fecal flotation, or by seeing the proglottids on the pet’s body.

Hope this helps, see you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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