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Intestinal parasites are a common problem but one that can easily be treated and prevented. All new pets to the household should be checked for them at the earliest convenience, and routinely thereafter.
How do you know if your cat has worms? The only accurate way to find out is to submit a stool sample for analysis. Our laboratory checks for worm eggs in the sample - each species of worm lays a characteristic type of egg and by identifying the type (or types) your pet has, our hospital will prescribe the specific medication best suited for their needs.
As a rule of thumb, all animals should have their stool tested at least once a year. Following is a brief explanation of the most common types of intestinal parasites.
These are by far the most common intestinal parasite of kittens and they are normally acquired via the bloodstream while still inside the womb. They can also be transmitted via the milk during nursing. In older dogs, roundworms can be acquired by coming in contact with infested fecal debris left behind by another animal. The best and easiest method of preventing a roundworm burden is to clean up feces from your animal and others that visit your yard on a frequent basis. If these worms are seen in the fecal matter they will resemble round strings of spaghetti.
Hookworms are not as common in animals as the roundworm but present a serious problem. Young animals can become infected in the womb or from contaminated surroundings. Again the best method of prevention is to pick up after your animal and other animals that enter your yard.
Coccidia and Giardia
These are microscopic protozoan parasites that reside in the small intestine and often cause diarrhea. Giardia in particular is transmissible to humans and can cause similar symptoms. These parasites are found by microscopic evaluation of the stool , available by your veterinary hospital.
These are the worms that can be responsible for your pet’s itchy rear-end. The worm lives in the intestine and can be up to 50 cm long. Tapeworms are composed of segments and these are passed out via the pet’s anus; they can often be seen sticking to the hair coat under the tails. They resemble dry rice grains.
The most common source of tapeworm infection is the flea, so they are common in the summer and fall seasons.
Many clients become frustrated when their pets become re-infested again and again, in spite of deworming. The following preventive measure can help combat re-infection:
· Clean up after your pet. Remember that stools are the source of the eggs.
· Adhere to a routine schedule of stool examination and deworming as directed by your veterinarian.
· In a multi-pet household, have all the animals tested at the same time; this will prevent cross-infection
· Control fleas, ticks and lice; since these pests are the vectors for the common tapeworm. Their control is imperative.