Intestinal Parasites in Dogs & Cats: Symptoms and Prevention

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August 15, 2013
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We love our pets. We really do. We play with them, go for walks with them, give them high quality food, and hug them. One of the things we have to think about that may slip our mind from time to time are parasites, intestinal parasites. It’s easy to see if a flea or tick has jumped on our pet but not always easy to know if our pet has an intestinal one.

Brief Overview of Intestinal Parasites

  • Roundworms and Hookworms – these are gross little worm like parasites that live in the intestinal tract of dogs and cats. They are commonly found in pups and kittens. They cause discomfort to the pet and can cause illness and upset stomach. In extreme cases where a pet does not receive dewormers or care, they can cause death.
  • Tapeworms – these are long, flat, and segmented. They live in the intestines of many animals and can be passed from wildlife to domestic animals. Tapeworms do not have mouths but rather, suckers that attach to the intestines. You may see tapeworms being passed from your pet in broken, segmented pieces during and after your pet has relieved him/herself.
  • Whipworm – these are more common in dogs than cats. They are thin but have an arrow shape to them as they get wider down the body. They cause illness in pets and can lead to death

Signs of Parasites

  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen stomach
  • Dehydration
  • Seeing tapeworms in fur and on surfaces where pets sleep

Grossed out yet?

How to Manage Parasites

Regular visits to the vet to get deworming medication is the best way to prevent parasites. When walking your pet, cleaning up after them removes potentially infective eggs from the environment if your pet has a case of parasites. You don’t want other pets to get worms nor keep reinfecting your own pet. Clean the litter box often as needed.

Parasites can spread to humans too, so let your children know that dirt is not something to put in their mouth. Some parasites are present in wildlife and the soil may have some eggs that you do not want your child to ingest.

Always monitor your pet’s bathroom habits and be aware of any changes as this could signal an upset stomach, parasites, or other illness.

For more information about intestinal parasites, visit Lakewood Vet’s article about parasites.

Image from Lakewood Veterinary

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