Parasites in Dogs and Cats

Parasites . . . ew! Parasites can cause some major problems for your family pets. Learn how to treat and prevent parasites, and keep all your pets healthy.

My mom just recently celebrated her birthday, and her birthday present was a new kitten! The new family pet, Myrtle, graced us with her adorable presence…and something else not so adorable. During her first vet appointment, we found she came with parasites. You know, those tapeworms and other nasty bugs. This was a real issue for us. It meant that our other animals—three dogs and five cats–could get parasites as well. With the help of our vet, we’ve taken care of the issue. But I wanted to share what we learned, so you can take care of your new pet and your current ones.  

The four most common parasitic worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. They live inside animals, in their intestines. Roundworms occur most often in kittens, because the parasites can lie dormant in the mother cat and affect the unborn kittens. Kittens should be wormed within a couple of months following birth.

Hookworms can cause anemia and intestinal illness in your animal friends. These parasites hook themselves to the intestinal wall and feed on blood. Yucky, yucky. Tapeworms also live in the intestine, but they rarely cause illness. You can tell if your pet has tapeworms if their stool contains small, rice-like segments. Whipworms are mostly seen in dogs. They resemble pieces of thread and live in the large intestine.

Parasite symptoms that show you that your pet may have parasites are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss (so be sure to monitor your pet’s eating and drinking habits)
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy, or unwillingness to move
  • Pot-bellied appearance, or a swollen belly

When you adopt a new pet, schedule a “well pet” visit with your vet. And keep up with regular treatments and vet appointments to prevent these nasty parasites, plus heartworm as well.

Did you pet ever have any type of worms? How did you realize it and then how did you treat it? Tell us the story in the comment section!

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