Canine or feline parasites are a potential source of danger for pets and humans alike. A single female Toxocara cati, commonly known as roundworms, can shed up to a hundred thousand eggs in a single day. Humans, especially children, are exposed to these eggs when they are excreted in stools or vomit. Upon entering the skin, they can cause an infection known as visceral larva migrans, leading to red, intense, itching eruptions in humans. Ocular larva migrans can even lead to blindness.
Worms in dogs and cats are a common phenomenon with most of the transmission of the contagion taking place through the fecal or nursing route. Intestinal parasites do not spread through contact, but the eggs that are excreted in the stool are capable of infesting other pets and humans.
Roundworms and tapeworms are two of the four most common intestinal parasites that are visible with the naked eye. A close observation of the stool of the animal is enough to determine whether it is infested with parasites or not.
Roundworms change color from white, when fresh, to tan. They assume different sizes and shapes during their lifecycle, and the whole worm can be seen externally in the cat’s stool. Tiny larvae of roundworms can transmit to tissues in kittens while they are in the mother’s uterus or through the mother’s milk while they are nursing.
Made up of segments, tapeworms can grow up to 6” in the intestines. When the last segment detaches itself from the main structure, it gets excreted. Live cat or dog tapeworms can be seen sticking around the anus or to the tail. These contracting and expanding segments dry up after dying and appear like brown rice or confetti.
The other two common parasites, whipworms and hookworms, are very small and cannot be seen externally with the naked eye. Whipworms and hookworms are less common in cats and are rarely seen in the stool. Hookworms probably derived their name from the fact that they ‘hook’ themselves on the walls of the intestines. Dogs and cats get infested with hookworms in the same way as roundworms. However, hookworms are blood sucking parasites, and severe infestations can be fatal for cats and dogs. It can be especially dangerous for the young ones, and owners of puppies and kittens need to be very careful.
A microscopic examination also may not establish the presence of hookworms and whipworms. A careful monitoring of pet behavior and knowledge of the symptoms of worms in dogs and cats is required to establish whether the pet is infested with whipworms or hookworms or not.
Parasites hide in certain areas of the body since they thrive on the nourishment that they extract from the pet’s body. The intestines are the most convenient place for them. Any further up the body cavity, and they can be coughed up and ejected. Any further down in the pet’s system, and they can be excreted with stools. The rate at which feline parasites can multiply is so fast that in no time your cat can develop symptoms and diseases that are linked to the presence of worms. The hazard that feline parasites pose to humans and their children makes it essential to regularly monitor your pet for the possible presence of such parasites.