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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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.
Below you can delve a little deeper into the subject.
Parasites and Worms in Dogs and Cats
Several different types of parasites can make cats and dogs
their home. From biting insects like fleas and ticks to internal worms, all of these pests are
unpleasant, dangerous, and can cause serious complications.
The good news is that they’re all largely preventable, through
monthly oral medications, spot-ons, and good old-fashioned
grooming and cleaning of your pet's space.
Internal parasites that can attack cats and dogs include
heartworm, tapeworm, whipworm, roundworm, and hookworm.
Depending on the type, these parasites can enter the pet’s body
through transfer of infected soil and stool or through the bite
of a carrier, like a mosquito. Hookworms can even enter through
your pet’s foot as they walk outside, by burrowing into their
These worms grow from the larval stage to adulthood inside the
pet’s body, and some migrate between organs, causing internal
damage along the way. Most latch onto an organ and feed off
your pet's blood.
Here’s what you need to know about common worms in pets and how
to get rid of them.
Heartworms are the most common internal parasite for pets, and
are more likely to infect dogs than cats. They're transferred
to pets through mosquito bites and while they're most common in
the country's warm, southern states, more and more incidents in
northern states are being reported.
Tapeworms can be carried by fleas and transferred to pets
through a flea bite. Pets can also get tapeworm from eating a
rodent or other mammal that was infected. Once inside a pet,
tapeworms attach to the small intestine wall and block the
Whipworms feed off a pet's blood in the cecum, which is part of
the digestive tract where the small and large intestines meet.
Roundworms complete their life cycle in an animal's intestines,
but they can also move throughout a pet's body, infecting the
throat and lungs.
Hookworms can enter your pet's body a number of ways, and can
infect the lungs before moving on to the intestines.
Whipworms, roundworms, and hookworms are all "zoonotic,"
meaning they can be transferred to people. It's always a good
idea to have your pet on a dewormer, and many monthly heartworm
preventatives like Heartgard, Trifexis, Interceptor Plus chewables for
Dogs, Iverhart Plus, and Tri
Heart Plus will protect against other types of worms
as well. To get rid of these worms, medications
like Panacur can be
highly effective. Other medications like the Sentinel Spectrum
chewable medication works on fleas, heartworms, and
common intestinal worms.
Another type of “worm," ringworm: Ringworm is actually not a
parasite, despite it’s name. The name comes from the
ring-shaped rash that develops on human skin when people are
infected, though ringworm is caused by fungus. On pets, the
rash develops as a scaly patch of skin.
More on Parasites And Worms
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Parasites And Worms In
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There Are Worms In Your Dog's Poop?