How Dogs and Cats Become Infected with Roundworms
Roundworms are especially common in puppies and kittens. Most puppies and kittens are born with roundworms, having acquired them from their mother either across the placenta or through the mother’s milk while nursing.
Roundworms can also be transmitted through the ingestion of infected feces, which is a common means of spread in both puppies and kittens as well as adult dogs and cats.
In addition, roundworms can also be passed to your pet through the ingestion of insects, mice or other prey animals that are carrying the parasites.
Symptoms of Infection with Roundworms in Dogs and Cats
Many dogs and cats infected with roundworms show no symptoms at all. In other cases, the worms may cause symptoms such as:
- lack of weight gain or loss of weight
- pot-bellied appearance
Diagnosing Worms in Dogs and Cats
In some cases, you may be able to see roundworms in the feces or in the vomit. These worms are relatively long and thin and appear similar to a strand of spaghetti.
However, as with most intestinal worms, it is more likely that your pet will be diagnosed with roundworms through microscopic examination of his fecal sample. This is a procedure that will need to be performed by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will look for the parasite eggs in the feces. The eggs are microscopic and not visible without intense magnification.
It is recommended that your pet’s fecal sample be tested regularly, usually at least once yearly.
Treating Intestinal Roundworms in Dogs and Cats
Numerous medications are available to eliminate roundworm infections. Some of the most commonly used medications include pyrantel, fenbendazole and piperazine.
In most cases, dogs and cats infected with roundworms will need to be wormed at least twice at an interval of 3-4 weeks apart in order to clear the infection.
Puppies and kittens should be wormed beginning at a young age and wormings should be repeated every 2-4 weeks until the puppy or kitten has reached 14-16 weeks of age.
Parasite Transmission to People
Roundworms are infectious for people as well. Children, in particular, are at risk. However, there are some simple precautions parents can take to protect their children.
- Children should be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly and often, particularly after they have handled the dog or cat.
- Feces should be picked up and disposed of as soon as possible after your dog or cat moves his bowels.
- Puppies and kittens should be wormed beginning as young as 2-4 weeks of age to reduce the risk of transmission.
- Have your pet’s feces examined for parasites by your veterinarian on a regular basis.
- Provide monthly heartworm preventive medications for your dog or cat that also aid in the control of roundworms.
Though roundworms are common parasites in both dogs and cats, they are normally easily controlled. Controlling these intestinal worms not only keeps your pet safe but can also protect your family from parasite infection as well.
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