Both cats and dogs are susceptible to a number of internal parasites. These nasty creatures burrow into your pet’s body, causing all sorts of damage and leaving you with the task of treating the infestation. In left untreated, worm infections can lead to death, so it’s important to know how to prevent and treat parasites.
The most common parasites to prey on cats and dogs are hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and heartworms. The first four types of worms target the intestinal tract of cats and dogs. Heartworms, however, target the heart and arteries.
Luckily, there’s an assortment of quick and easy worm treatment options to choose from. There are also plenty of preventatives -- usually in the form of monthly chewable tablets -- to keep these parasites from being a problem at all.
Options for worm treatment include oral medications, such as prescription pills and over-the-counter chewable tablets, as well as topical medications.
Treatment for Hookworms
- Once inside the body, the worms will target the small intestine, causing inflammation and anemia. Hookworms have been known to travel into the lungs, causing coughing and shortness of breath. Death can be sudden if the condition is not treated right away.
- Treatment consists of an oral medication, called a "dewormer." Which dewormer is prescribed will depend on your pet’s age. Drontal is often prescribed for young pets, whereas older pets might take Interceptor or Iverhart Plus.
- These medications attack the worm’s nervous system, paralyzing the parasite so that it releases its bite and falls into the animal’s stool. Because treatment does not kill migrating larvae moving through the skin, you may have to keep your pet on medication after symptoms subside to ensure that the infection doesn’t resurface. Additionally, supplements will be prescribed for pets that have experienced severe anemia.
- For preventing hookworms, you can choose between Iverhart Plus, Iverhart Max, Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, Tri-Heart Plus, Trifexis, Advantage Multi, and Sentinel.
Treatments for Whipworms
- Once inside the body, whipworms will target the cecum, a section of the intestine where the small intestine and large intestine meet, causing inflammation, anemia, dehydration, and weight loss. If not treated, the condition can result in death.
- Treatment consists of dewormers. Commonly prescribed dewormers include Sentinel and Trifexis, both chewable tabs. Again, these medications attack the worm’s nervous system, paralyzing it so that it releases its bite and passes through the animal’s stool. Because some worms may be in different life stages at the time of treatment, deworming medicines may have to be administered several times to be fully effective.
- For preventing whipworms, you can choose between Interceptor, Sentinel, Advantage Multi, and Trifexis.
Treatments for Roundworms
- Once inside the body, roundworms will initially target the stomach and intestines. The larvae, via the circulatory system, make their way to the lungs, where they can cause coughing and shortness of breath. Once in the lungs, the larvae can crawl up the windpipe and be swallowed back down into the stomach. If left untreated, a severe infestation in the intestines can lead to a blocked digestive system and possibly to death.
- Treatment consists of dewormers. Commonly prescribed ones include, Iverhart Max as well as Advantage Multi for Dogs and Advantage Multi for Cats. As with treating the worms mentioned above, these medications attack the worm’s nervous system. Nemex or Strongid are often recommended for younger animals.
- For preventing roundworms, you can choose between Iverhart Plus, Heartgard Plus for Dogs, Interceptor, Iverhart Max, Sentinel, Advantage Multi, Revolution for Dogs, and Trifexis.
Treatments for Tapeworms
- Tapeworms will target the small intestine of a dog or cat. Aside from itching around the anus, tapeworms do not normally cause serious health problems. However, in younger animals they can cause anemia and intestinal blockages.
- Treatment consists of dewormers. Commonly prescribed ones include Panacur and Cestex. Depending on which drug you use, the tapeworm may be dissolved or the medication will attack the worm’s nervous system, paralyzing it so it loosens its grip on the intestine wall.
- Since fleas carry tapeworm, flea control is key in the prevention of tapeworm infestation. Flea shampoos and collars are typically recommended as prevention. Iverhart Max also prevents tapeworm.
Treatments for Heartworms
- Heartworms infest the arteries, heart, and lungs of pets. If untreated, these heartworms cause extreme health issues, which may lead to death.
- Treating heartworm is a two-step process in dogs. To kill adult worms, a calculated arsenical dose is given that will not adversely affect the animal.
- To kill microfilaria, or young heartworms, Ivermectin is used as a dewormer. It eliminates the larva before it grows into an adult worm.
- If the disease has progressed such that adult heartworms are clogging the heart, surgery will be needed to remove them.
- There is no treatment besides surgery for heartworm in cats, so prevention is doubly important for cats.
- As for prevention, there are daily and monthly tablets, monthly topicals, and six-month injectable medications available for both dogs and cats. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round prevention.
- Common preventatives include Tri-Heart Plus, Heartgard Plus, Iverhart Plus, Iverhart Max, Interceptor, Sentinel, Advantage Multi, Revolution, and Trifexis.
More on Parasites And Worms
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Parasites And Worms In Dogs And Cats
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