Intestinal worms are parasites that can affect your pets. Many of them evade notice by feeding quietly from nutrients in the animal’s digestive tract without causing illness. Even if the parasites are not making your pet sick, it is still best to eliminate the worms in order to maintain their peak health.

Common types of intestinal worms include hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, roundworms and heartworms (not an intestinal parasite, it is a blood parasite)

How are they transmitted to pets?

Pets do not have the same level of hygiene standards as we humans do. They do not wash their paws after they use the bathroom and are possibly a little too comfortable around feces of their own as well as from other animals. This lack of what we might consider hygiene is what ends up leading to so many problems with intestinal worms.

Female parasites lay thousands of eggs in animal feces. When the eggs hatch, the parasites count on an animal coming by and investigating. Even small amounts of contamination from this fecal matter, whether on paws, a snout or fur, can quickly lead to an intestinal parasite infection.

Can people get them from their pets?

In fact, yes, we can. Zoonotic diseases are any disease that can be passed from animals to humans. Many parasites, including intestinal ones, are indeed zoonotic. When you get a diagnosis from your veterinarian for your pet, inquire whether the species of worm found is likely to have been passed along to you.

How are parasites diagnosed?

As stated earlier, worms do not always cause symptoms. Some cause very noticeable symptoms though. These can include:

  • Low energy
  • Changed mood
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Dull coat

To get an official diagnosis, however, your veterinarian will likely need to analyze a stool sample or do blood work. Ask if they want to collect the stool sample on site or if they would prefer you bring a recent sample from home to avoid additional stress to your pet.  

What is the process of treating parasites?

Thankfully, there are simple and effective ways to treat intestinal worms. Quite a number of medications, for example, exist to treat them. While some side effects are reported for the first few days, the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of the parasitic infections, making it unclear whether it is the medication’s effect or the lingering of the worm infection symptoms.

Dogwood Veterinary Hospital & Pet Resort in Chapel Hill serves the greater Orange, Chatham and Durham County areas. We are experienced at treating pets with and educating owners on intestinal worm-related issues. Reach us at (919) 942-6330 with any questions or to set-up an appointment.