Intestinal parasites are a health concern for both dogs and cats living in Utah. Luckily, there are effective methods of dealing with them, both preventatively and after an infestation has occurred. One of the reasons that worms must be dealt with properly and promptly is because these parasites can sometimes be spread to humans.
How Pets Get Intestinal Parasites
Most intestinal parasites are spread through contact with feces. This can happen when your pet eats a wild animal, such as when cats catch mice. It can also happen when dogs eat things off the ground where an infected animal has previously eliminated. The one exception to this rule is tapeworms, which are spread by fleas. When a dog or cat grooms an infested flea off themselves and eats it, the tapeworm larvae enter their system and sets up shop in their intestines. The most common types of intestinal parasites in dogs and cats are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms.
Treatment for Worms in Dog and Cats
It is normal for puppies and kittens to have intestinal parasites. Older pets are less likely to harbor these parasites unless their immune system is compromised, but they may also have low numbers of worms if they are present in the environment. Deworming is usually done several times at a young age for both puppies and kittens. However, deworming of adult animals is more variable, depending on the risk posed by the pet’s lifestyle.
Heartworm is one exception to this rule. Heartworm cannot be easily treated in dogs, and cannot be treated at all in cats. For this reason, a year-round heartworm preventative protocol is appropriate in many cases. The alternative is usually to treat pets only during the time of year when mosquitoes are active because mosquitoes are responsible for spreading heartworm.
Options for Preventative Deworming
There are a number of combination products on the market that kill worms as well as fleas, ticks, or heartworm. Not all types of worms can be killed with the same drugs, so some dewormers work on all of the common types of intestinal parasites while others do not. Regular treatment makes it easier to remember and less likely that parasite prevention will get forgotten, as well as making the process more convenient.
Another option for preventative deworming is to schedule regular fecal exams, and/or deworm your pet with a product only intended for that purpose on a regular schedule. This may be every three, six, or twelve months, depending on the needs of your pet. Our veterinarian can speak to you about the right products and schedule for your dog or cat.
Contact Utah Veterinary Hospital for More Information About Deworming
If you are interested in learning more about deworming, contact Utah Veterinary Hospital at 801-692-1563 today. We are happy to schedule an appointment so that you can speak to our veterinarian about your pet’s individual parasite prevention needs. We are committed to treating every pet in a personalized manner and recognizing their place as a valued member of your family in the American Fork, UT, area.