By doing what cats or dogs do (licking, sniffing, playing and even sometimes swallowing everything they find or chase), pets are at risk of contracting worms throughout their lives Even the ones living indoors are at risk, though at a lesser degree, as pet parents are still going outdoors and could bring worms or eggs through their shoes.
Type of worms encountered
The most common are the roundworms and, especially in outdoor cats, tapeworms.
A large percentage of puppies and kittens are born with microscopically small roundworm, or ascarid, larvae in their tissues. The larvae is introduced to the developing pup (or kitten) right in the mother's uterus -- via migration through the mother's tissues!
Roundworm larvae can also be transferred to the nursing pup or kitten from the mother's milk. The larvae make their way to the intestinal tract where they can grow up to five inches in length. They start shedding eggs and try desperately to keep house in the small intestine of the pup or kitten.
Roundworms don't just affect young pups or kittens, though. They can infest adult dogs and cats, too. However, as mentioned above, the larvae can encyst in body tissue of adult dogs and cats, remain dormant for periods of time, and can activate during the last stages of pregnancy to infest the puppies and kittens.
The tapeworm is transmitted to cats (and dogs) that hunt and eat wildlife or rodents infested with tapeworms.
Symptoms will vary depending on the worm type and the degree of infestation.
Some pets don’t show symptoms of being infected, but many do. Here’s what to look for:
If you see these signs, take your pet to the vet as if left untreated, symptoms can become very severe and even life threatening such as intestinal blockage.
A dewormer solution can be used to rid your pet of worms. The type of dewormer solution will depend on the type of worm present. Not all worms respond to the same treatment and no single wormer works against all kinds of parasites.
Prevention is strongly recommended as roundworm can spread easily and even infect people.
- Belly pain
- Dull coat
- Weight loss
- Presence of worms in poop or vomit
- Puppies and kittens: start as early as 2 weeks old (with the mum), every 2 weeks until 3 months old then once a month until 6 months old
- Adult dogs and cats: 3 to 6 months depending on their lifestyle and the household (presence of pregnant women or babies/toddlers)