When your dog or cat has worms, there’s a good chance she might not show any symptoms at all. Alternatively, she might exhibit signs that she isn’t feeling completely well, and these can be your first clue that she could have a problem. Intestinal parasites in dogs and cats can have a serious and rapid effect on your pet’s health and lead to long-term complications if you don’t get prompt treatment. Diligent parasite prevention in pets can help you avoid these situations from arising in the first place.
Watch for Visible Signs
Some parasites leave visible signs of their presence, but they’re easy to miss unless you’re actually watching for them or you know what they look like. Each type of parasite leaves different evidence:
- Tape worms, which grow up to 6 inches long, have bodies made up of a number of segments. The worm shed segments containing larvae, and this is one of the most common signs of tapeworm infestation seen in the dog’s feces. These look like tiny grains of white rice that move around while the feces is fresh. You might also find some of these segments caught in your dog’s hair around the anal area.
- The presence of fleas often indicates other parasites because they transmit the eggs of tapeworms, particularly in young puppies and kittens.
- If you find that your pet has blood in her feces this might indicate the presence of hookworms, which can cause fatal anemia if left untreated.
- Roundworms are occasionally seen in feces, looking like a long piece of cooked spaghetti.
Identify General Symptoms
If you aren’t able to conclusively determine that your pet has a problem by finding visible evidence, look out for these more general symptoms of intestinal parasites in dogs and cats. Any of these symptoms taken on its own could mean simply an isolated incident of your pet having eaten something she shouldn’t or generally feeling “off”:
Lower energy levels
If your dog or cat displays more than one sign simultaneously, however, you need to consider whether she has had deworming in the past six months. If not, the possibility exists that she could have an infestation.
Test the Feces
Testing for internal parasites in dogs and cats is a simple procedure in most cases. Take a sample of a fresh stool to your veterinarian and ask for it to be tested. It’s often worth doing this before stressing your pet by taking her for an examination, only to find you spent the time and money unnecessarily.
Most veterinarians will charge you a small fee for a test and give you a container with liquid that will preserve the sample. Alternatively, you can use any type of container as long as it’s clean and dry. Refrigerate the sample immediately and deliver it for testing within 24 hours if possible; the fresher it is, the more likely an accurate result.
Treatment and Prevention
While most intestinal parasites in dogs and cats are completely treatable and your pet can make a full recovery, it’s critical to begin treatment as early as possible. Dr. Kadri believes it’s even better to prevent infestation in the first place, by giving your pet the appropriate dosage of broad spectrum parasite control products on a year-round basis.
You should also manage tick and flea prevention year-round and take particular care to prevent young puppies and kittens from picking them up.
Contact us here for a consultation on parasite prevention in your pets to keep them healthy and free from intestinal problems.