“Pet worms must have been eradicated by now. It seems like deworming is something we do to our pets, although we don’t need to.”                                                                                                                                                                                     —a misinformed pet owner

Do you find yourself wondering if deworming pets is necessary? You have dewormed your pet regularly for years with a monthly preventive, but they never seem to have a problem. If you don’t regularly deworm your pet, however, that’s when problems arise. The expert veterinary team at The Pet Clinic of Salem knows how best to prevent parasitic pet intestinal worms. Read on for several common pet scenarios that demonstrate the importance of deworming.

Deworming to protect puppies and kittens

“Someone abandoned a litter of sick puppies near our house. We tried to help them, but they got weaker, and the smallest one was gasping for breath. Our veterinarian said they had severe hookworms and might die without a blood transfusion.”

The above scenario is common in puppies and dams who have not received good care, but every nursing puppy of a mother dog who is dewormed and kept in a hookworm-free environment is at risk of life-threatening hookworm anemia. How is this possible? Hookworms go into a state of arrested development in the mother dog’s body tissues. Somatic infection or hypobiosis is common in adult dogs, including those on monthly parasite control. Deworming does not kill the arrested larvae in the tissues, and pregnancy triggers these hookworms to come out of hiding. Young puppies are then infected when nursing through the mother’s milk.

Canine roundworms have an additional “hidden attack” mode. Not only can roundworm infection pass to puppies through nursing, but the infection can also pass to puppies through transplacental migration. Puppies don’t have to be exposed to infective worms in their environment, because they are born already infected. For these reasons, deworming every puppy every two weeks, starting at 2 weeks of age, until monthly parasite prevention begins, is critical. Every pregnant and nursing dam should be maintained on broad-spectrum worm control products. 

Hookworms suck blood from cats’ intestinal lining, as well. A cat or kitten who is dewormed and not exposed to hookworms in their environment can pick up an infection from ingesting an infected rodent or cockroach. Hookworms in the environment can affect kittens when they are too small for our diagnostic methods, causing diarrhea and life-threatening anemia.

Roundworms cause disease in kittens and are also passed to kittens through nursing. Kittens and their queens should be dewormed when the young are 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age. Thereafter, kittens and cats should be placed on monthly worm prevention.

Deworming to protect adult dogs

“Buddy, our 8-year-old lab, had intermittent loose stool and was losing a lot of weight. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing helped. Our veterinarian checked a fecal sample and found a high level of whipworm eggs. We started a deworming plan, and Buddy is back to feeling great.” 

Whipworms are one of the more common worms that cause disease in adult dogs, who ingest whipworm eggs from the environment, where the hardy eggs can survive for long periods. Infection risk is also high, because many monthly parasite preventives do not cover whipworms. Adult dogs are often affected by roundworm and hookworm infections, as well. 

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, roundworms pose the greatest risk to adult dogs in Marion County. For these reasons, you must administer year-round broad-spectrum intestinal parasite control, to maintain your dog’s good health.

Deworming to protect adult cats

“I couldn’t find time to refill my cat’s monthly flea preventive. One day, I noticed flat, white worms on the cat stool in the litter box. I looked where the cat had been sitting on my bed, and there were more tapeworms crawling on my pillow!” 

Cats—as well as dogs—become infected with tapeworms from ingesting fleas while grooming, or from ingesting raw meat. Under the tail, dried tapeworms look like grains of rice stuck to the fur. Deworming is effective, although re-infection is common, making year-round cat flea prevention and targeted cat deworming crucial. Ensure your cat’s dewormer covers tapeworms, because not all do.

Roundworms and hookworms also cause problems in adult cats. For these reasons, your cat’s wellness plan will include regular fecal checks and deworming—at least twice yearly in adult cats. Many monthly flea preventives also control intestinal parasites,  so preventing roundworms and hookworms in both indoor and outdoor cats year-round is made convenient for owners.

Deworming pets to protect people

“Our pediatrician said that a small number of children in the U.S. each year develop an eye problem that can result in blindness. I couldn’t believe it when he said the problem comes from a dog’s intestinal worms.” 

Common pet worms can also infect people. Pet tapeworms can infect people who accidentally ingest an infected flea. Hookworms pose a threat to people when the larvae enter and migrate through the skin, such as when puppies pass hookworms in the soil and children run outdoors barefoot. Roundworms that are accidentally ingested migrate through the eyes and other organs, and can cause disease in children and adults.

The Pet Clinic Of Salem has the expertise to develop a strategic deworming plan for your pets. Call or come in today to deworm your pet, and prevent the problems worms cause not only in your furry family members, but also your human family members.