What are Roundworms?

This nasty little parasite can cause a boatload of problems for you and your pet. Good news is a yearly fecal exam will make sure your pet is healthy and parasite free! 

How do Roundworms affect my pet?

Roundworms are the most common parasite found in the intestines of pets, especially puppies and kittens. Roundworms attach to the intestinal lining, where they steal nutrients. Adult dogs with mild infections may have no symptoms, or mild chronic intermittent diarrhea, weight loss, or vomiting. Infected puppies and kittens often have a pot-bellied appearance, dull coat, diarrhea, vomiting, and may cough. The feces of an animal infected with roundworms will contain eggs, which can then contaminate the environment and be passed to other animals or humans.

How did my pet get Roundworms?

Roundworms can be acquired after ingesting eggs from the environment (ie soil) or infected wild animals. Puppies and kittens can also be infected with Roundworms from their mother before they are born, or in milk while nursing.

How are Roundworms treated and prevented?

If your veterinarian identifies roundworm eggs in your pet’s fecal sample, they will be treated with a dewormer which will kill the adult worms. In many cases, a single dose is effective, although if any persistent eggs are identified when your pet’s fecal sample is rechecked a second dose of dewormer is sometimes required. Picking up your pet’s stool immediately and disposing of it in plastic for 2 to 3 weeks after diagnosis will help reduce the contamination in your yard.

Our recommended monthly heartworm preventions also prevent a variety of intestinal parasites, including Roundworms. It is important that these preventions are given every 30 days to be effective.

What about my other pets?

If one pet in the household is diagnosed with Roundworms, fecal samples from all of the other pets in the house should be examined for Roundworms eggs, especially if those pets have lapsed on monthly heartworm prevention. Some pets may not have any symptoms but could still be suffering intestinal damage from infection.

How will Roundworms affect my family?

Roundworms are considered zoonotic, meaning they can infect both animals and people. Roundworms in people can affect the eyes, heart, lungs, and neurologic system. Avoiding direct contact with fecal material by using gloves or plastic bags is the best prevention. Wash hands thoroughly, and wear shoes in your yard. Consult your physician if you have any concerns.

Have more questions about Roundworms? Contact us today! 

What else is checked for in your yearly fecal exam? Check out these related articles for more parasite information:

What is Giardia?

What are Hookworms?

Parasite Prevalence: What's Your Pet's Risk?

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