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While the words may sound scary, intestinal parasites are a fairly common and completely treatable occurrence in both cats and dogs.

There are several different types of intestinal parasites, and knowing what to do if your dog or cat contracts one is important for early and effective treatment. It’s particularly important to treat intestinal parasites so that they don’t get passed along to humans.

WHAT KIND OF INTESTINAL PARASITES CAN MY DOG OR CAT GET?

There are four main types of intestinal parasites which can be found in either dogs or cats:

1. TAPEWORMS

The most commonly known intestinal parasite is the tapeworm. Tapeworms are long and flat and they attach themselves to your dog or cat’s intestines. They are composed of segments, which can detach themselves and spread to other areas of the intestine. Tapeworms can sometimes be found in your dog or cat’s feces, or even on their rear ends. Tapeworms can cause serious diseases if passed onto humans.

2. HOOKWORMS

Hookworms are small worms that ingest blood by attaching themselves to the intestine. Because they are sucking your dog or cat’s blood, they can cause infections, severe blood loss, anemia and pale gums in your pet. Hookworms can easily be picked up from soil or infected feces; their larvae can penetrate the skin, making contaminated sandboxes or yards especially dangerous for children and adults.

3. ROUNDWORMS

Roundworms are the most common parasites that can be found in your dog or cat’s intestines. They can interfere with your pet’s ability to absorb and digest nutrients so they are particularly dangerous to your pet’s health. Some puppies are born with roundworms and kittens can pick them up while nursing.

4. WHIPWORMS

Whipworms are more commonly found in dogs than cats, and can be picked up through grooming or licking after playing in contaminated soil.

INTESTINAL PARASITE SYMPTOMS

If you suspect your dog or cat might have an intestinal parasite, watch for these common symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low energy, lethargy
  • Bloated belly
  • Sudden change in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dull fur
  • Itching or irritation
  • Rubbing its rear end on the ground
  • Worms in fecal matter

Not all dogs will show symptoms in the early stages. It’s important to monitor your pet closely.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK MY PET HAS WORMS?

Left untreated, intestinal parasites can cause damage to your dog’s intestines and other internal organs and, in severe cases, can lead to death. If you notice one or more of the above symptoms in your cat or dog, it’s important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible to start treatment. Your veterinarian will test your dog or cat’s fecal matter and conduct other diagnostic tests  to determine the best course of treatment.

If you think your dog or cat might have an intestinal parasite, contact Close Vet Clinic today.

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