What are Roundworms?

Roundworms are intestinal parasites that can affect our pets, and can even be passed along to us!

While many puppies and kittens are actually born with roundworms, they can be managed and cleared, and you can protect your pet all the way through adulthood. This will help protect your family from infestation, too.

How Do Roundworms Affect My Pet?

Roundworms are the most common parasite found in the intestines of pets, especially puppies and kittens. Roundworms attach to the intestinal lining, where they steal nutrients. Adult dogs and cats with mild infections may have no symptoms, or they may have mild chronic intermittent diarrhea, weight loss, or vomiting. Infected puppies and kittens often have a pot-bellied appearance, a dull coat, diarrhea, and vomiting. They may also have a cough. The feces of an animal infected with roundworms will contain eggs, which can then contaminate the environment and be passed to other animals or humans.

How Did My Pet Get Roundworms?

Roundworms can be acquired after ingesting eggs from the environment or infected wild animals. For instance, dogs can eat infested soil while chewing on grass, or cats can even ingest it while grooming dirt off their own paws. Puppies and kittens can also be infected with roundworms from their mother before they are born or in milk while nursing.

Mother dog with her puppy

How are Roundworms Treated and Prevented?

If your veterinarian identifies roundworm eggs in your pet’s fecal sample, they will be treated with a dewormer, which will kill the adult worms. One prescription dose may be enough to clear your pet’s infestation, but a recheck fecal sample will be needed to determine if an additional dose is warranted.

Be sure to pick up after your dog or clean the litter box immediately, disposing of stool in a plastic bag, for about 3 weeks after diagnosis. This will help reduce the spread of roundworms in your community, yard, and household. Don’t forget to wash your hands right away!

Recommended monthly heartworm preventions may also prevent a variety of intestinal parasites, including roundworms. Giving these preventives routinely and on time is vital if they are to be effective against both heartworms and intestinal parasites.

Women feeding a treat to her cat

What About My Other Pets?

If one family pet is diagnosed with roundworms, your veterinary team will want to check fecal samples from all of the other pets in the house. Intestinal parasites are spread relatively easily among family pets, and even if dogs and cats do not show overt symptoms, they could still be suffering intestinal damage from infection.

How Will Roundworms Affect My Family?

Roundworms are considered zoonotic, meaning they can infect both animals and people. Roundworms in people can affect the eyes, heart, lungs, and neurologic system. Avoiding direct contact with fecal material by using gloves or plastic bags is the best prevention. Wash hands thoroughly, and wear shoes in your yard. Consult your physician if you have any concerns.

Have more questions about roundworms? Contact us today!

 

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