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How to Prevent Intestinal Parasites in Your Dog or Cat

No dog or cat is immune when it comes to intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Preventing intestinal parasite worms doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It is easy when you take a proactive, year-round approach to your pet’s healthcare.

PetIQ Veterinary Council recommends getting your dog or cat screened for intestinal parasites during their annual exam. Your pet should also be on a monthly heartworm preventive which protects against the other types of worms.

Here are some common questions pet owners ask:

What are the symptoms my pet may have worms?

  • You can see the worms in their stool or vomit
  • Blood in their feces or vomit
  • White “rice-type” flecks in the feces and under their tail
  • Reduced appetite
  • Significant weight loss
  • Tired, not interested in normal activities


Can my puppy or kitten get worms?

If your puppy or kitten’s mother is infected with roundworms, the puppy or kitten can be infected before it is born or through their mother’s milk. Fecal testing and regular deworming for puppies and kittens can help lower the health risks.

Can my older dog or cat get worms?

The risk factors will depend on your pet’s age, health, and lifestyle. Your adult dog or cat can get hookworms, roundworms, or whipworms through contact with contaminated soil, another animal’s feces containing worm eggs or larvae, or by eating undercooked meat or the carcass of an infected animal.

Can worms be spread to humans?
Some parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can spread from animal to human. That’s why it’s important to practice good hygiene after handling pet feces. Regularly cleaning your yard and the cat’s litter box will prevent eggs from getting into the environment.  When cleaning up feces, dead animals, or other potentially contagious items, wear gloves and wash your hands afterward.

What should I look for inside my home or around my property?

  • Mice, rabbits, feral dogs, and cats can potentially carry worm parasites
  • Look for and remove any animal feces
  • Block off and repair any potential hiding places for wild animals
  • Remove any possible water hazards like unused water troughs, empty flowerpots, furniture, or equipment covers
  • Set up proper drainage ditches to prevent standing water from accumulating.

How is an intestinal worm test done on a dog or a cat?

You will need to bring a fresh stool sample, less than 12 hours old, to a licensed veterinarian who will run a simple fecal test to detect the presence of several types of internal parasites, including hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, giardia, and coccidia.

Left untreated, heartworms and intestinal worms can cause serious diseases in your pet. Don’t let these pesky parasites prevent your pet from living a long, happy life.