Roundworm Infection in Pets
Toxocara are common intestinal roundworms in cats and dogs. They can be identified in your pet’s stool or vomit. These worms resemble spaghetti, as they’re long and thin. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, lackluster fur coat and pot-bellied appearance.
When a pet is infected, the eggs hatch and become larvae that continue to grow in his intestine. After three or four weeks, the larvae mature and become adults, which then produce more eggs. Those eggs are passed through the feces to begin the cycle again.
How Pets Get Roundworms
Pets can be infected by being exposed to feces that contain roundworms or by ingesting animals (such as mice or rats) infested with roundworms. Kittens and puppies can also be infected by their mothers before birth or shortly afterwards during nursing.
They’re often found in soil, and the eggs are very resistant to both weather and chemicals. They can survive for many years, which could mean your pet can be infected over and over again. Pets can pick up the eggs in their fur or paws, ingesting the parasite when they groom or lick.
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Treatment is a simple process. The preventive medication for roundworms only kills the adult worms. That’s why it’s necessary to give a second dose a few weeks later. If that dose is skipped, the eggs laid by the adult roundworms will hatch, produce more eggs and continue the cycle. As a result, your pet will become reinfected. It’s essential to follow the protocol given by your veterinarian.
When a cat or dog is being treated for roundworms, it’s very common for the roundworms to pass through the stool. If you don’t see any worms, there is no reason for alarm. Some worms may or may not pass.
Part of the wellness plan for puppies is for a fresh stool sample to be brought in for testing for worms. Contact your local veterinary assistant for more information or questions you may have.
Many veterinarians do recommend routinely deworming kittens and puppies even if there aren’t any signs of an infection because of the possibility of infecting family members.
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