Tip of the Month

10/23/2009 Roundworms in Cats and Dogs

One of the most common intestinal worms for cats and dogs are roundworms (Toxacara). They can be identified in your pets stool or vomit as they look somewhat like pieces of cooked spaghetti as they are long and thin. Other symptoms include diarrhea, a lackluster fur coat, vomiting and / or a pot-bellied appearance.

Pets can be infected by being exposed to feces that contain roundworms or by ingesting animals (such as mice or rats) that are infested with roundworm. Puppies and kittens can also be infected by their mothers before birth or shortly afterward when they are nursing. They are often found in soil and the eggs are very resistant to not only weather but also chemicals. And they can survive for many years which could mean your pet can be infected over and over again. Pets can pick up the eggs in their fur or paws ingesting the parasite when they groom or lick.

The eggs hatch and become larvae which continue to grow in the pets intestine. After 3-4 weeks, the larvae mature and become adults which then produce more eggs. Those eggs are passed through the feces to begin the cycle again.

Treatment is a two or three step process. The preventive medication for roundworms only kills the adult worms. That is why it is necessary to give a second dose 3-4 weeks later. If that dose is skipped, the eggs that were laid by the adult roundworms will hatch, produce more eggs and will continue the cycle and your pet will become re-infected. It is essential to follow the protocol given by your veterinarian.

When a pet is being treated for roundworms, it is very common the roundworms to be passed through the stool. If you do not see any worms, there is no reason for alarm. Some worms may or may not pass.

Part of the wellness for puppies is for a fresh stool sample to be brought in for testing for worms. You can contact you local vet and speak to the veterinary assistant at the hospital for any information or questions you may have.

Many veterinarians do recommend routinely deworming puppies and kittens even if there is no sign of an infection because of the possibility of infecting family members.

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