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What to know about worms
Most people have heard of worms and many might assume they are all creepy slimy creatures similar to the ones found in the garden. However, this is not the case for hookworms, roundworms, whipworms or tapeworms and knowing the difference is crucial in protecting your dog or cat.
Type of worms
Worms that affect pets are all classified as internal parasites that drain pets of blood and nutrients. These worms can be detected by their shape – they will be either round or flat. The three types of round-shaped worms are roundworms, hookworms and whipworms and all reside in pets' intestines. There are two types of flat worms, including echinococcus and tapeworms, which live inside pet intestines and other organs. Dogs commonly get hookworms, whipworms, roundworms and tapeworms, and cats are prone to getting these infestations except for whipworms. Both animals can develop heartworm disease by being bitten by an infected mosquito, but this type of parasite resides in the heart and lungs, rather than the intestines and other organs.
Are certain pets more at risk of worms?
Almost all puppies and kittens have intestinal worms when they are born, as the worms are transferred to them by their mothers in the womb. Animals born at puppy mills are more likely to have a worse infestation due to the unhygienic conditions they live in. Luckily, healthy kittens and puppies with strong immune systems are able to rid their bodies of the parasites before an infestation arises. Adult dogs and cats can pick up worms from eggs found in soil after other pets have defecated. They can also become infected by eating fleas, catching and eating prey such as mice or snails or eating feces of other animals.
How to keep worms at bay
The best way to prevent worms is to bring your dog or cat to the vet regularly as a part of its pet care regimen. The vet can check for signs of worms through a fecal sample from your pet. Most puppies and kittens get dewormed when they are 2 weeks old and then again at 4, 6 and 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, it's crucial to get your pet on worm preventatives as well as flea and tick pet drugs to keep all parasites off your animal.
Heartworm medication like Revolution kills fleas and flea eggs, ticks as well as roundworms and hookworms, while Sentinel wards off fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. Flea and tick preventatives like Pet Armor work to prevent fleas, ticks and chewing lice.