Preventing and Treating Worms in Cats

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Tess Thompson

Worms in cats and dogs are tenacious parasites and treatment can be frustrating. In spite of the treatment that you may adhere to for your pet, there is always an underlying risk of re-infection. This is due to the fact that worm eggs and larvae can stay dormant in the tissues and intestines for a long time before maturing. The above mentioned condition makes prevention a pertinent aspect of controlling worms in dogs. It is also important to note that some intestinal parasites can only be controlled and total eradication is not possible.

Prevention and treatment of worms depends upon the typical lifecycle of each type of worm. Cat tapeworm and dog tapeworm infest these pets mainly when an infected flea or rodent is consumed. One species of roundworms need a foreign host to mature whereas others can infect cats directly. Some others can infect kittens through mother’s milk too.

Symptoms of worms in cats and dogs are not prominent except in cases of severe infestation. Tapeworms are mostly diagnosed by physical viewing. Small grain-like segments that detach from the main body of the tapeworm can be seen crawling near the anus. This is a sure sign of infestation. Oral drugs or an injection will almost certainly kill tapeworms in the cat, but there is a strong possibility of re-infection. Preventive measures for controlling tapeworms include:

  1. Feeding your cat only frozen or cooked fish
  2. Training the cat not to hunt rodents
  3. Keeping your cat free from fleas and lice

Roundworms have a complicated migratory lifecycle. Roundworm eggs have evolved in such a way that they can resist extreme environmental hazards. But mature roundworms cannot survive for long in the open environment. Since some roundworms are parasitic in nature, de-worming medication aims at anesthetizing the roundworms. The medicine therefore causes the roundworm to loosen their grip on the host. Live roundworms are then excreted through the feces.

Roundworms are vulnerable only when they are in the intestines of the host. The larvae that enclose themselves in the body tissues cannot be killed with these medications. They require a second and sometimes a third de-worming dose at intervals to ensure a ‘near complete’ eradication.

Hookworms are very tiny and impossible to spot in the feces with the naked eye. A microscopic examination is necessary for confirming the diagnosis. Hookworms are blood suckers and can cause severe anemia. Treatment for hookworm infection almost always necessitates hospitalization.

Although some cases have come to light, heartworm is uncommon in cats. Treating heartworm infection is fraught with danger, and it is likely that your veterinarian may not suggest treatment at all.

Preventing feline parasites from infecting your cat requires regular cleaning of the litter box. Intestinal parasites can transmit through the lactating mother to kittens. Kittens should be de-wormed every two weeks between three to nine weeks of age. Regular fecal examination is necessary for an effective prevention regime.

Intestinal parasites have a public health angle to them. Children are exposed to dog and cat feces in playgrounds and adults run the risk of accidentally eating contaminated food. Some simple methods of keeping the environment clean and adopting personal hygiene methods can go a long way in preventing worm infestation in humans as well as pets.


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