Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms and Tapeworms
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite found in dogs and cats, especially in puppies and kittens. We also see whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworm infections in some pets.
The adult worms live in the intestinal tract and deposit eggs within the intestines where they pass to the outside in the stool.
Dogs and cats become infected by eating immature eggs or larvae from contaminated soil or feces, or by eating infected rodents, birds or some insects. Puppies can also get some worms from their mother before they are born.
Many pets with worms show absolutely no symptoms of illness at all. Intestinal worms thrive by not causing disease in most situations (‘bad’ parasites tend to kill their hosts, which is not very helpful in their own survival).
Symptoms of worms in puppies and kittens can be a lack of growth and loss of body condition, and they may have a dull coat. Worms may rarely be seen in vomit or in the feces or cause a distended abdomen.
HUMANS CAN GET WORMS FROM THEIR PETS!!!
Roundworms and hookworms especially have the potential to infect humans. These most commonly affect young children who are likely to put things in their mouths that they shouldn’t. In some cases of human infection serious illness can result.
Dogs and cats should be de-wormed with a broad-spectrum prescription deworming medication on a routine basis to help prevent intestinal worm transmission to humans. Pets that are on heartworm preventative should be de-wormed once a year normally. Those that are not on heartworm preventative should be de-wormed more frequently.
It should be noted that children do not get pinworms from dogs or cats (dogs and cats don’t get pinworms)!
DIAGNOSIS OF WORMS
Diagnosis can be made by examining a stool sample under the microscope and looking for the eggs produced by the roundworms. Fecal examinations are not 100% diagnostic and may need to be repeated frequently in some situations because the eggs are not consistently passed in all stool samples.
Because dogs and cats frequently have no symptoms even when they have internal parasites, we recommend that all dogs and cats are de-wormed frequently, even if they are showing no symptoms of illness.