Hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and other intestinal parasites can be found everywhere in the environment. Infection of these parasites may lead to poor health, vomiting and/or diarrhea, anemia, and, in more severe cases, death. However, through proper husbandry and wellness, intestinal parasites can be avoided. In addition, with the modern prescription preventatives and treatments available today, no pet should suffer from the infestation of intestinal parasites.
Methods of Infection
Worm eggs, or larvae, are found in the pet’s feces. Infection occurs when a pet ingests infected material. In some cases, as with Hookworms, larvae can infect the pet through penetration of the skin. Pets can also become infected when drinking contaminated water. Pets that roam freely are more at risk for infection, but no pet is risk free.
To prevent infection, veterinarians will recommend a regular schedule to examine the pet’s fecal material. In some cases, veterinarians will recommend regular deworming for a pet with a prescription anthelminic, or dewormer. Other preventative measures include:
- Following through with the veterinarian’s recommendations regarding flea and tick control and heart worm preventative. There are a variety of forms available for prescription including oral, topical and injectable.
- Not allowing a pet to roam freely or spend time in areas that are heavily contaminated with the feces of other pets
- Not allowing the pet to drink standing water as it is likely contaminated
- Cleaning up the pet’s stool on a regular basis
Signs of Infection
Pets may not show any clinical signs of intestinal parasite infection which is why preventative care is crucial. Visible signs of intestinal parasite infestation may include weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, lethargy, distended abdomen, bloody stool, anorexia, or even worms seen in the feces or around the tail. Should any of these or other signs be noted, an immediate visit to the veterinarian is warranted.