There are several types of intestinal worms that are common in dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. Perhaps the most well known are the long, spaghetti-like roundworms. Your pet may also be infested by hookworms, whipworms, or tapeworms, all of which are easily treated with the appropriate medication. Felines can also contract lungworms, which are treatable. Dogs are vulnerable to heartworms, which are carried by mosquitoes. These can be treated as well, but it is expensive and the best thing to do is prevent them!
How Do I Know if My Pet has Worms?
Some worms, like roundworms and tapeworms, are visible to the naked eye. If you see something that looks like a worm, give us a call so we can discuss it. Many worms cannot be seen, however, and we must do a fecal float test in order to detect them. Some pets show symptoms like weight loss or upset stomach, while others do not. Heartworms can cause weight loss and eventually a cough, but they can't been seen by the naked eye and often the symptoms are non-specific. In either case, if your pet isn't acting like himself you should get it checked out!
How are Worms Treated?
Intestinal worms and lung worms are easily treated with de-worming medications that we stock here in the clinic. Usually you will be given a measured dose which you will give to your pet orally. Occasionally your pet may get an injection for intestinal worms. Heartworm treatment involves injections of medication over several weeks, while keeping your pet confined and calm. If your dog tests positive for heartworms Dr. Cobb will explain the whole process to you at your appointment.
Can I Treat Worms at Home?
There are some over-the-counter products that can be effective, but keep in mind that all de-worming medications are not good for all types of worms. If you give your pet a medication that kills roundworms, for example when he actually has tapeworms, it will do him no good. If you aren't sure, it's always best to bring your pet in for testing before administering any medications.
Heartworms cannot be safely treated by any over-the-counter medications. For more info on heartworms, watch the video below.