Roundworms are parasites that can infect a dog or cat’s intestinal tract or other bodily tissues, ultimately causing malnourishment, as the parasites consume the pet’s food and block the intestines.
Here are the top five things to know about these parasites and protecting your pet from them.
1. Many Puppies and Kittens Will Get Roundworm
Because roundworm can be asymptomatic in a pregnant dog or cat, oftentimes there’s no sign that a pet has roundworm until the puppies or kittens are born and start showing signs of infection. All puppies and kittens should be tested for roundworm, and most veterinarians recommend deworming the pet just in case. Don’t be alarmed if your pet needs this treatment—parasites sound scary, and can cause serious complications, but a puppy or kitten treated for worms will be effectively cleared of the infection.
2. Different Symptoms Indicate Different Life Stages
When roundworms latch onto the intestines, diarrhea is the most common symptom. But when the worms travel through the lungs and throat, dogs and cats can exhibit coughing, or even develop pneumonia in severe cases. Take your pet to the veterinarian if any of these symptoms persist.
3. Heartworm Medications May Work, But Check with Your Vet
Some heartworm medications are also effective against roundworms, so you may be able to use your regular heartworm medicine. Check with your veterinarian to be sure, though, and don’t put your pet on two types of deworming medications without first talking to your vet.
4. Roundworms Can Also Infect Humans
Don’t hope that symptoms will go away without help—take your pet to the vet if you think they have a parasite. Some parasites, roundworms included, can infect humans as well. Most cases won’t cause severe symptoms in humans, but you won’t want to take the chance.
5. Keep Using the Deworming Medication as Long as Instructed
Because roundworm dewormers target the adult worms in the intestines, one dose of the medicine probably won’t kill all the roundworms in your pet’s body. Keep using the deworming as often as your veterinarian or the medication instructs, to avoid a return of symptoms.
Roundworms can cause discomfort, pain, and in severe cases intestinal blockage and death, so it’s important to take infections seriously. Once on a medication, though, your pet will be cleared of the parasite.
More on Keeping Pets Safe
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.