While keeping your pet healthy and happy, a pet owner needs to be aware of various gastrointestinal parasites and how to recognize them in your pet. One of the most common types of parasites pets suffer from is the roundworm. Roundworms can easily be passed from one pet to the next. Depending upon the type of roundworm, it is even possible for your dog to pass roundworms to your cat or for your cat to pass roundworms to your dog. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify these parasites so you can treat them properly and keep your pet healthy.
Roundworms can be easily spotted in your pet's vomit or stool and look somewhat like pieces of cooked spaghetti, in that they are long and thin. Roundworms can be passed on in many ways, including from a mother's milk to her puppies or her kittens. Roundworms can be passed on through ingestion of another animal that has become infested with roundworms.
Types of Roundworms
The type of roundworms that affect dogs and cats may be different, with the one affecting dogs being called Toxocara canis and the ones affecting cats being called Toxocara cati. These roundworms can not be passed between dogs and cats, but there is a type of roundworm called the Toxascaris leonine that infects both dogs and cats.
Passing on Roundworms
Regardless of the type of roundworm, they are often found in soil and the eggs of this parasite are resistant to both weather and chemicals. As such, they can remain infective for several years, which means your pet can become repeatedly infected. Pets often pick up roundworm eggs in their fur while playing in the grass and dirt. Later, pets lick their fur during grooming, the eggs are ingested and later hatch.
After hatching, the larvae continue to grow inside your pet's small intestine. It only takes about three to four weeks for the larvae to mature and become adults. Once they mature, larvae produce more eggs, which are passed out of your pet through its feces. After the eggs are passed, it takes about one week before they become infective.
Preventing and Treating Roundworms
You can help keep your pet healthy and free from roundworms by giving it preventative medication, with the most common being pyrantel pamoate. Although this drug is effective at killing roundworms, it is only effective against the adult worm. Therefore, it is necessary to give your pet a second dosage about three to four weeks after administering the first dose. Otherwise, the eggs laid by the adults will hatch, produce additional eggs, and continue the cycle of infection.
The second dose of medication is essential in order to rid your pet of roundworms. If you allow too much time to pass before you provide the second dose, the adults will continue to produce eggs, which will continue the cycle leading to your pet becoming reinfected. Vigilence in administering the medication and following the recommended treatment is essential to assuring your pet becomes free from infection.