Intestinal parasites are common in dogs and cats. Often, puppies and kittens are infected by their mothers. As pets grow, they may be infected repeatedly. Regular fecal tests and deworming are crucial in maintaining your pet's health.
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats. Roundworms live in the intestine of the host animal and absorb nutrients from the food the pet eats, resulting in malnutrition and digestive problems.
Appearance of Roundworms
Roundworms are so named because they look round when cross-sectioned. Adult roundworms are generally 3 to 4 inches long, although some grow as long as 7 inches. When passed or vomited by the host animal, roundworms look like spaghetti.
Hookworms are another common intestinal parasite in dogs and cats. They have small, teeth-like structures and attach to the wall of the intestines. They feed off the host animal's blood, leading to diarrhea and anemia.
Appearance of Hookworms
Adult hookworms are very small, growing to 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long. They are rarely seen; they attach themselves firmly to the intestinal wall and are rarely passed or vomited by the infected animal.
The most reliable way to diagnose roundworm or hookworm infection is a fecal test at the veterinarian's office. The test looks for the presence of eggs or larvae rather than for adult worms. Several medications are available to effectively treat both kinds of worms.