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Intestinal Worms in Pets

 by jaime on 29 Jun 2014 |
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Dogs and cats are prone to several types of intestinal worms. The most common of these intestinal parasites are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Although dogs and cats of any age can become infested with worms, puppies and kittens are often the victims. An infected mother can pass the parasites to her litter through the placenta or milk during feeding. Kittens or puppies often exhibit a potbellied appearance when they are suffering from a worm infestation. Adult pets can also get worms from fecal contaminated soil.

Roundworms are common parasites that live in the intestines. Roundworms have a spaghetti-like appearance and can sometimes be seen in the stool. Signs and symptoms of roundworm infection other than their appearance in the stool, include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, dull coat, thinning coat, as well as weight loss or failure to gain weight.

Tapeworms also reside in the intestines of the infected animal. They consist of a head and several segments that comprise the body. These segments resemble grains of rice. They may be seen in the stool or around the anus of an infected pet. Cats and dogs may become infected with tapeworms when they eat a flea that has eaten tapeworm eggs. Symptoms of tapeworm infection include increase or decrease in appetite, dull coat, hair loss, stomach upset, weight loss and red areas on the skin, typically around the rump and feet. A flea infestation puts pets at an increased risk of developing tapeworm. It is imperative to rid your pet and the environment of fleas.
Hookworms are a type of intestinal parasite that attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall and feeds off of the animal's blood. The eggs pass through the feces of an infected animal. Pets may ingest the eggs through contaminated soil. Hookworms can pose a serious problem for pets, especially the very young and elderly, because they cause internal blood loss in the animal. If untreated, chronic blood loss can lead to death. The main symptoms of hookworm infestation are diarrhea and weight loss.

Whipworms live in the part of the large intestine where the large and small intestines meet. Transmission typically occurs when an animal ingests an egg through contaminated soil. If a few whipworms are present, they do not generally pose a severe problem. However, if the infestation is large, they can cause severe bloody diarrhea which can lead to blood loss and dehydration. Whipworm infection is usually more severe in dogs than cats.

Consult a veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have worms for a proper course of treatment. Follow your vet's schedule for de-worming puppies and kittens. Annual checkups and examination of stool samples can help provide early detection of the presence of internal parasites. It is important to use a de-worming medication regularly to prevent re-infestation. It is also important to keep your pet's environment and bedding clean. All soiled areas should be cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Always practice good hygiene when handling pets and cleaning their area, by using disposable gloves and washing hands thoroughly.

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