Worms are one of the main reasons why your feline or canine pal needs parasite prevention. Unlike earthworms, intestinal worms can infect your loyal companion and have serious effects on their health. There are various ways your cat or dog can be exposed to these parasites which is why it’s extremely important to deworm them regularly. Some unsuspecting ways your cherished companion can encounter worms is through contact with feces, prey, other cats and dogs, from eating fleas, playing in contaminated soil and even in utero from their mother.
What types of worms can my cat or dog become infected with?
- Roundworms - this parasite can seriously affect the development of kittens and puppies. Roundworms are zoonotic which means humans can have them as well. This is one intestinal parasite that can be passed on from the mother in utero and through the mother’s milk. These worms cause digestive problems and result in excessive gas formation which gives the cat or dog a pot-belly appearance.
- Tapeworms - not only are they a threat to your loyal companion, but they are also zoonotic as well. Tapeworms cannot be passed on from one loyal companion to another. Instead, they use intermediate hosts such as fleas, birds, mice or rats, rabbits and other small mammals. If your cat or dog hunts these animals, they are at a higher risk of being infected with tapeworms. Tapeworms can also stunt the growth of kittens and puppies and in severe cases can cause intestinal blockage.
- Hookworms - this parasite is one of the most common worms in both cats and dogs. This worm attaches to the lining of the small intestine and feeds off blood. Patients with this worm often have anemia. Since the worm enters the body through the skin or mouth, it is also possible that the patient may have signs of eczema or a secondary infection.
- Heartworms - dogs are the perfect host for these worms which means they suffer the most. Heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitoes and once transferred, they can survive inside the body for years. They are often found in the heart and gastro-intestinal tract. The symptoms will include coughing, vomiting, weight loss, heavy breathing, swollen abdomen and fatigue.
- Whipworms - these worms are tiny and usually measure 25-50 mm. Whipworms usually live in the large intestine where they cause inflammation and irritation. When infected with this type of worm, patients will have bloody diarrhea, chronic watery diarrhea and weight loss.
How are internal parasites detected?
To diagnose heartworms, the veterinarian will use a blood test to identify certain proteins in the blood. Hookworms, roundworms and whipworms are usually diagnosed by examining a stool sample. The eggs are usually identified with a microscope. Tapeworms can be observed in the feces without a microscope and sometimes can be seen around the anus. Your loyal companion should be tested regularly, even if they have no symptoms. To have your cat or dog tested and dewormed, please call us at 613-384-6618.
Can I protect myself from zoonotic worms?
Good hygiene is key to protecting yourself from catching zoonotic worms. Even if your feline or canine is dewormed regularly it’s important that you take precautions when caring for them. You should ensure that you dispose of their feces safely, use gloves when handling their waste and always wash your hands.