FACTS ON CANINE AND FELINE INTESTINAL WORMS

  • Intestinal worms are parasites that live, grow and multiply inside a pet’s intestinal tract.
  • Cats and Dogs can harbor 4 types of intestinal worms with varying abilities to do harm.

ROUNDWORMS

What are roundworms?

  • Roundworms are thick, spaghetti-like worms reaching 3-7 inches in length.
  • They’re common in all dogs and cats but are most harmful to puppies and kittens.
  • Roundworms swim around in the small intestine competing for partially digested food.
  • Owners are often alarmed to find large masses of these worms in a pet’s vomitus or feces.

How do pets get roundworms?

  • Roundworms are so plentiful in the environment that infection is practically unavoidable.
  • Puppies can become infected while still in the womb.
  • Both puppies and kittens can become infected while nursing.
  • Pets of all ages can become infected when they ingest roundworm eggs or eat roundworm-infected vermin.

How harmful are roundworms to pets?

  • Roundworm infection is most dangerous to puppies and kittens.
  • Death can occur from intestinal rupture or obstruction.
  • Adults are more tolerant of infection and may show no symptoms.
  • They are, however, still infected and can contaminate the environment with millions of eggs that endanger humans as well as pets.

How do I know if a pet has roundworms?

  • Classic roundworm symptoms include belly-bloat, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Puppies and kittens can be assumed to be infected and should receive a routine course of deworming meds during the first few months of life.
  • Adults can be diagnosed by regular (at least yearly) fecal testing.

Can a pet’s roundworms infect humans?

  • Roundworms may cause a rare yet serious human disease known as “Larval Migrans”.
  • When roundworm eggs hatch in the human gut, their emerging larvae can “migrate” out and damage various organs. Invasion of the eye can lead to blindness.
  • Young children have the highest risk of exposure and are most commonly infected.
  • Simple measures that can greatly reduce the risk of infection include:
  • Keeping pets roundworm-free
  • Regular hand-washing (especially before eating)
  • Keeping your environment and children’s play areas free of animal waste.

How can I protect my pets against roundworm?

  • Roundworm protection is best accomplished as part of an overall parasite control program.
  • A veterinarian can design the best program for your pet.
  • Besides considering local parasite threats, he/she can evaluate your pet’s condition and lifestyle. This helps assure the best selection of product, dosing, and follow-up.

HOOKWORMS

What are hookworms?

  • Hookworms are thin, small-intestinal parasites common in dogs and cats.
  • Only ½ to ¾ inch in length, they’ re usually undetectable to the naked eye.
  • Hookworms are named for prominent hook-like teeth that attach them to the intestinal lining.
  • Once attached, they feed exclusively on blood.

How do pets get hookworms?

  • Hookworms are found throughout the United States but are most common in warm, wet climates.
  • They survive best in outdoor areas such as soil, sand or grass.
  • Since their larva can burrow directly through skin, pets can get them just by walking on the ground.
  • Puppies can become infected while in the womb or while nursing (its uncertain if kittens can also get infected this way).
  • Pets of all ages become infected when they ingest hookworm eggs.

How harmful are hookworms to pets?

  • Hookworm infection results in blood loss that can lead to anemia and iron deficiency.
  • Due to their small blood-volume and low immunity, puppies and kittens are most at risk for fatal complications.
  • Adults are less seriously affected but can still contaminate the environment with hookworm eggs.

How do I know if a pet has hookworms?

  • Symptoms may include weakness, pale gums and dark (tarry) diarrhea.
  • Puppies and kittens can be assumed to be infected and should receive a routine course of deworming meds during the first few months of life.
  • Adults can be diagnosed by regular (at least yearly) fecal testing.

Can pet hookworms infect humans?

  • Pet hookworms can cause a human skin disease known as “Cutaneous Larval Migrans” (CLM).
  • As its name suggests, the disease results from the migration of hookworm larva under the skin.
  • It causes a very itchy, raised, linear rash than can last several weeks.
  • Aside from discomfort, it’s easily treated and not considered serious.
  • Very rarely, lung and muscle complications can ensue.
  • Simple measures that can greatly reduce the risk of human infection include:
  • Keeping your pets hookworm free
  • Keeping your environment free of animal waste.
  • Avoiding prolonged skin contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.

How can I protect my pets against hookworms?

  • Hookworm protection is best accomplished as part of an overall parasite control program.
  • A veterinarian can design the best program for your pet.
  • Besides considering local parasite threats, he/she can evaluate your pet’s condition and lifestyle. This helps assure the best selection of product, dosing, and follow-up.

 TAPEWORMS

What are tapeworms?

  • Tapeworms are flat, segmented, small-intestinal parasites common in dogs and cats.
  • Fleas are the most common cause of tapeworm infection in pets.
  • Flea tapeworms vary in size from 4 to 28 inches in length.
  • Non-flea tapeworms are less common and can infect pets that hunt or eat carrion.
  • EXCEPT WHERE INDICATED, THE FOLLOWING REFERS ONLY TO THE FLEA-TAPEWORM (DYPILIDIUM).

How do pets get tapeworms?

  • Adult tapeworms shed huge numbers of eggs that may eventually be eaten by fleas on the pet’s fur.
  • When these fleas are accidentally ingested (during grooming etc.), larval tapeworms are released into the digestive system to infect the pet.
  • Once attached, they mature within a month to restart their life cycle.

How harmful are tapeworms to pets?

  • Despite their size and repulsive appearance, tapeworms are rarely harmful to pets.
  • However, heavy infestations (especially in puppies or kittens) can deprive pets of nutrients and cause failure to thrive.
  • Given their potential ability to cause human infection, these parasites are best avoided and controlled.

How do I know if a pet has tapeworms?

  • Tapeworms rarely cause symptoms but can be suspected in pets with fleas.
  • Owners can look for tapeworm segments on the feces or on the fur below the tail.
  • Segments will resemble cucumber seeds when wet and become sticky and rice-like when dry
  • Because their eggs are harder to find, they may be missed on fecal exams.

Can tapeworms infect humans?

  • Human infection with flea tapeworms is rare but possible.
  • As in pets, human infection requires eating a flea.
  • Certain rare, non-flea, dog tapeworms (echinococcus sp.) are very dangerous to people.
  • Infection with these can occur in dogs eating infected offal.
  • Inform your veterinarian if your dog hunts or eats raw organ meat.

How can I protect my pets against tapeworms?

  • Deworming pets with signs of infection and controlling fleas will help keep them tapeworm-free.
  • Tapeworm protection is best accomplished as part of an overall parasite control program.
  • A veterinarian can evaluate your pet’s risk factors to assure the best selection of product, dosing and follow-up.

 WHIPWORMS

What are Whipworms?

  • Whipworms are large-intestinal parasites most commonly affecting dogs.
  • The dog whipworm (Trichuris Vulpis) can reach 1-2 inches in length and is named for its whip-like shape.
  • Its long, tapered (mouth) end allows it to attach and feed on the dog’s intestinal lining; its thicker (whip-handle) end floats freely in the bowel dispersing its eggs.

How do pets get Whipworms?

  • Whipworms are spread by dog waste and are common throughout the United States.
  • Because the whipworm’s eggs are so long-lived and resistant, they can quickly build up to contaminate the pet’s environment.
  • Pets become infected by contacting contaminated ground and swallowing eggs that get stuck to their paws, muzzle, fur or tongue.

How harmful are Whipworms to pets?

  • Although a few worms won’t cause problems initially, they can worsen with time as rising egg numbers bring new worms.
  • Large worm burdens cause continuous blood loss and bowel irritation leading to:
  • Pale gums (anemia)
  • Frequent loose stools or diarrhea with blood and mucus
  • Electrolyte problems
  • Because whipworms can be hard to find, these symptoms can trigger expensive veterinary workups for other diseases.

How do I know if a pet has Whipworms?

  • Owners rarely notice whipworms.
  • Since whipworms don’t lay eggs every day, repeated fecal exams may be required to find them.
  • Suspicious cases can be treated without confirming infection.
  • Treatment is cheap and effective but needs to be repeated.

Can Whipworms infect humans?

  • Human infection with dog whipworms is possible but very rarely reported.
  • Other (non-dog) whipworm infections are more common in people.
  • Human infection is best avoided by:
  • Keeping pets whipworm-free
  • Regular hand-washing (especially before eating)
  • Keeping your environment and children’s play areas free of animal waste.

How can I protect my pets against Whipworms?

  • Whipworm protection is best accomplished as part of an overall parasite control program.
  • A veterinarian can design the best program for your pet.
  • He/she can evaluate your pet’s risk factors to assure the best selection of product, dosing and follow-up.