Roundworms, or ascarids, are the most common intestinal parasites in both puppies and kittens. There are two types of these worms, and they are Toxascaris leonina and Toxocara canis/cati. Roundworms live in your pet's stomach and intestines and can grow to be about seven inches long. Female ascarids can lay as many as 200,000 eggs a day making this an extremely difficult pet health problem.
How Roundworms Affects Your Pet
When your pet swallows roundworm larvae, it migrates to the lungs and up into the windpipe. From there, your puppy or kitten will cough them up and swallow them again. They will then settle in the intestines and grow into adult worms. Adult roundworms produce thousands of eggs, which are passed out in your pet's feces. Roundworms act much differently in adult pets. After an adult pet ingests the larvae, it will migrate to the intestines and enter into a dormant state. If the animal becomes pregnant, the larvae will awaken and pass through the placentas into the puppies or kittens. Worms can also stay within the mother's intestines and begin producing eggs. Ascarids typically do not affect adult pets adversely. However, puppies and kittens will experience a wide array of symptoms depending on the severity of their infestation. While some young pet animals may only have mild vomiting and diarrhea, some may have severe weight loss and anemia. Heavy infestations of roundworms can also cause stunted growth and death.
Common Symptoms of Roundworms
As stated above, most adult animals do not experience any symptoms if they have this disease. However, puppies and kittens will display many different warning signs. While the exact symptoms that your pet may show can vary, the following signs are some of the most common: Lethargy, Depression, Swollen Abdomens, Loss of Appetite, Stunted Growth, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Weight Loss, Coughing, Spaghetti-Like White or Tan Worms in Vomit or Feces and Generalized Weakness.
Treatments for Roundworms
The most commonly-used medications for roundworm infestation are Nemex and Strongid. These are especially good for nursing puppies or kittens. You should have your pet dewormed for the first time at about two weeks old and then every two weeks up until eight weeks of age. More treatments may be necessary if your veterinarian finds any eggs or worms in your pet's feces after the fourth deworming. Additionally, it is best to deworm your pregnant pet with Panacur about two weeks before delivery and then again during lactation. Other medications that are effective in killing ascarids include Drontal plus, Telmintic, Interceptor, Heartgard plus and Vercom paste.
Roundworms are most common in very young puppies and kittens. However, adults can carry dormant larvae that become active only in pregnant females. It is essential to note that humans can become infected with ascarids as well.
When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.