Many people have the misconception that if they don’t see worms in their dog or cat’s stool that they don’t need to be dewormed states Dr. Rebecca Marr, DVM, at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, VA. This is a complete misunderstanding of the threat that intestinal parasites pose to your animal and to your family. Many intestinal worms can cause serious illness for the animal, but also can be transmitted and harmful to people as well. As veterinarians, we have taken an oath to protect public health and it is our job to inform and keep you safe from health risks that your companion animal may pose to you.
There are four main types of intestinal worms that affect dogs and cats: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. All of these worms take vital nutrients and protein away from your pet and may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Tapeworms are the worm’s owners typically seen around the rectum and are typically caused by ingestion of fleas or from hunting small rodents. Most of these can be prevented by regular use of flea prevention. Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms are common in puppies and kittens, but also can infect adult dogs and cats. These worms live in your pet’s intestines and shed eggs in the feces, thus contaminating the soil, yard, litter box, etc. When your pet licks the dirt, eats grass, or cleans their feet they can accidentally eat these eggs and become infected. The adult form of the worm stays in the intestine and is usually not seen, while eggs are only visible with a microscope.
Roundworms and Hookworms have been known to cause disease in people; children and elderly are at an increased risk. It is therefore very important for the health of your pet and family to keep your pet as worm free as possible. The Companion Animal Parasite Council guidelines (www.capcvet.org) recommend deworming puppies and kittens repeatedly, routine fecal examinations, year round heartworm preventatives, and cleaning up dog poop from the yard daily.
Rebecca Marr, DVM
Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
587 S Birdneck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451