Trichinosis in Dogs

Trichinosis is a parasitic infection in dogs that is transmitted from pork meat, especially if the dog eats the muscle of animals that are infected with the Trichinella parasites. The infection is uncommon in canines and won’t manifest as severely in dogs as in humans. Trichinosis can be treated once detected. The infection can be prevented by making sure the meat given to the dog is not infected with parasites or by cooking the meat properly.

Causes of Trichinosis in Dogs

Trichinosis in dogs develops as a consequence of the ingestion of Trichinella spiralis larvae. These larvae typically live in pigs.

The parasites are worms that lodge in the intestines of the pigs. The worms will multiply through larvae, which can be encysted and attach to the animal’s muscles. The larvae may survive for up to 10 years attached to the muscles of a host. Even if the larvae are dormant, once ingested by another animal, they can activate and produce live worms that will affect the pet’s intestines.

The infection may also be transmitted to humans, so it’s zoonotic.

The worms may also be present in bear or wild boar.

Symptoms of Trichinosis in Dogs

The infection with Trichinella spiralis will only produce subtle symptoms in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated fever
  • Agitation
  • Muscle ache
  • Lethargy

Not all these symptoms are present in dogs; typically, pets with a weaker immune system will have more severe symptoms.

Diagnosing Trichinosis

In dogs, trichinosis can be diagnosed if there are Trichinella spiralis larvae present in the dog’s system. However, in some cases, these larvae are only accidentally discovered during a routine checkup due to the lack of symptoms.

Blood tests can confirm the presence of Trichinella spiralis larvae.

Treating Trichinosis in Dogs

The treatment of trichinosis in dogs will focus on eliminating the worms and the Trichinella spiralis larvae.

The dog will receive meds such as mebendazole, which are also used when the pet has roundworms. Typically, the treatment is effective and the parasites should be eliminated within 2 weeks.

Trichinosis in Humans

Even if trichinosis is a zoonotic disease (i.e. it may be contracted by humans from animals), humans will not be able to contract the infection from an infested dog. This is due to the fact that the dog won’t shed the larvae. However, humans may get infected with trichinosis if they eat infected pork meat.

Humans will present more severe symptoms of infection and the condition may be fatal.

Preventing Trichinosis Infections

The trichinosis infections may be prevented by carefully choosing the meat providers and properly cooking the meat given to your pet.

The Trichinella spiralis larvae may survive for several years in infected pigs and there are high chances of infected meat to be present on the market.

To be sure the Trichinella spiralis larvae are destroyed, you need to cook the meat at 160°F. The larvae may also die if frozen, so keeping the meat in the freezer for at least 20 days.