Atlas of livestock parasites
digitized collection of microscopical preparations

Atlas of Parasites Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Physaloptera spp. (dog, cat)



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Nematode (order Spirurida)   

"stomach worm"  

Several species have been described P. praeputialis, P. felidis, P. pseudopraeputialis, P. rara, P. canis.              

Distribution: Worldwide.  

Host: Stomach of dogs, cats, and various wild animals.        

Life Cycle: Cockroach, beetle, or cricket intermediate hosts ingest eggs shed in dog or cat feces. The defnitive host is infected by ingesting the insect intermediate host or a paratenic host (reptiles and possibly other animals). They are usually firmly attached to the gastric mucosa. The males are ~30 mm, and the females ~40 mm long. Encysted infective larvae of Physaloptera spp. have been found in several species of insects, including beetles, cockroaches, and crickets. Mice and frogs may be paratenic hosts. After the dog or cat ingests the intermediate or paratenic host, development of larvae to adults is direct.    

Diagnosis: Eggs of this group of nematodes are not reliably detected by fecal fotation due to their density. Physaloptera eggs are best detected by fecal sedimentation. The eggs are clear and elliptical, have a smooth shell wall, and contain a larva coiled inside.           

Size: 42–53 × 29–35 µm, thick-shelled, and larvated.             

Clinical features: This common parasite of several wild animal species is considered of minor clinical signifcance in dogs and cats. Infections may result in clinical signs of vomiting and  anorexia.  While infections are often subclinical, these parasites may cause gastritis that can result in vomiting, anorexia, and dark feces. Bleeding, ulcerated areas remain on the gastric mucosa when the parasites move to other locations; in heavy infections, anemia and weight loss may develop. Gastroscopy is the most efficient means of diagnosis, and immature worms are often found in the vomitus of puppies or kittens.


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