Roundworms

Roundworms are more prevalent in Utah than other parasites. Our cold, harsh winters don’t bother roundworms too much. They are quite stoic and long lasting in their cyst stage.

What’s prevalent in your area? Go check!

Roundworm Facts:

  • Most common intestinal parasite in the world!
  • The infection of worms in humans dates back to records made before the common era.
  • Roundworms are usually male and female like us, but they can also have both parts and reproduce on their own.
  • They can lay up to 200,000 eggs in a day. That’s a lot of babies that can quickly overwhelm the host.
Nope. Not spaghetti.

Prevention:

Intestinal parasites are pretty easy to kill and prevent so just go with that.

  • New pet? Check fecal. Deworm. Check fecal every six months.
  • Always use recommended preventatives as instructed.
  • Puppy or Kitten? Deworm at weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. Use prevention. Check fecal like four times the first year, then move to bi-annually. Always use prevention as recommended.

  • Clean-up Quickly. This is a really easy way to make sure it doesn’t spread to you, your family or visiting dogs.
    • Clean up after your pet as soon as they go
    • Bag it, seal it and throw it away in a bin you can close securely.
    • Wash your hands!

  • Wash your hands! Did I say it already? Oh, well. Do it again. Only parasites in the intestines will be killed by preventative medicine. It’s your job to keep away from the rest. Stay Clean.

Notes:

  • Some preventatives come with Pyrantel, the dewormer, in it so kittens and puppies may only need the first few dewormings until they are old enough for preventatives, which are generally based on weight.

  • Do not double up on preventions. Find the right one for your needs and give as directed.
  • 9 out of 10 puppies have some sort of intestinal parasite. Just kind if imagine that puppies come pre-installed with parasites and get your pet on dewormer and prevention ASAP. Kittens are probably the same. Prevent.

How does your pet get Roundworms?

  • Trans placental: Yup, while they are still in Momma’s belly
  • Trans mammary: From Momma’s Milk
  • Ingestion: Have you seen the interesting things puppies eat?!?! And adult dogs? Are you kidding me! If a rat they eat happens to have roundworms, guess what your pet now has? Roundworms. River did eat rats. Cats are not immune to worms. Just FYI.
  • It’s generally a puppy and kitten thing but we deworm and prevent in the little ones well enough in hospital that I’ve seen them mostly worms in sick or older pets.

Roundworms can hang out in environment for years just waiting to be eaten. Winter doesn’t bother them much in their safe cyst stage and it’s only 2-4 weeks after ingestion that they lay eggs and start the cycle over and over again.

Symptoms:

  • Vomiting – Worms can be visually present in the vomit.
  • Failure to gain weight since the round worms are taking all the digested material before the body can.
  • Distended abdomen as the worms grow and reproduce, cute… but deadly. There is only so much room in there…
  • Poor coat and energy due to nutritional deficiencies.

Zoonosis

This is a fun word. It puts me in mind of spring trips to the zoo, but it’s anything but fun because it means that you, the human, can get Roundworms too!!!! Generally not directly from your pet but definitely wherever your pet has been. Pillows, the backyard, etc. Here’s a list of the most common ways Roundworms enter your lives and the lives of your pets.

Eating Dirt:

Don’t laugh. It happens often since they can live years in the environment. My human kids have both eaten dirt when they were younger. I’ve definitely seen dogs eat dirt, as well as many other questionable things.

How much sand will this pup eat just playing with his ball?

Cats lick a lot of things off their paws, including dirt. Besides that, kids and pets play in sandboxes, litter boxes and gardens and then grab a bite to eat. How many of you garden without gloves on? Clean up the dog poop in the yard or your litterboxes and then go about your day without washing you hands?

Stray Animals:

Stray dogs and even other housebroken but unprotected pets can transfer roundworms to you and your family. Don’t use this as an excuse not to help the lost ones, just be mindful of contact and wash your hands.

The Scary Part about Zoonosis:

Humans are not the primary target for roundworms, so their life-cycle gets all messed up and confused. Instead of migrating to the intestines and living there, they are flushed through your blood stream to your lungs and cause all sorts of havoc. You cough them up into the environment, and swallow others to reproduce in your gut and travel around some more, perhaps burrowing into other organs trying to figure out why things don’t look right.

Then it’s YOU spreading things to your kids and pets. How fun!

NOT.

Prevent. Perfect good hygiene skills.

Repeat always.

 

Need more information? Check the Center for Disease Control website.

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