Intestinal worms are common in dogs and cats and can be lethal if untreated – particularly in puppies and kittens. Intestinal worms are spread through contact with other animals, feces, or contaminated dirt, or if your pet eats infected prey like rodents or bugs. Deworming medications eliminate worms from your pet's system. It needs to be done on a regular basis because dewormers can only treat existing worms, not prevent new infections.
What are the signs that my pet has worms?
In many cases, pets with intestinal worms don’t have any symptoms until their infestation is severe. If you see the following signs, particularly in kittens or puppies, call us at 416-538-8387 to book an appointment with a veterinarian, and bring a fresh fecal sample to your pet’s appointment, so that it can be tested for intestinal worms and parasites:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bloated stomach
- Presence of worms in your pet's feces or vomit, or white worm segments under their tail
How does deworming medicine work?
Dewormers are taken orally or (for cats) applied to the skin. The medicine kills the worms in your pet's intestinal tract, and they are excreted as part of your pet's waste (although in most cases, you won’t see them). Deworming medication cannot prevent new worm infestations, which is why all pets need to be dewormed regularly. Our veterinarians will recommend the most suitable deworming medicine and timeline for your pet based on their lifestyle, symptoms and fecal test results. Fecal tests can confirm that your pet is free of worms at the end of treatment.
How can I prevent the transmission of worms from my pet to family members?
The best way to ensure your family's safety is to deworm all pets in your household regularly and do a fecal test once a year at their annual exam, or earlier if they have symptoms. Worms are easily spread, but pets don’t always show symptoms if they are infected. If you only deworm pets that have symptoms, any pets in the house that weren’t treated will quickly re-infect them. Monthly all-in-one flea, tick & heartworm prevention medications are a great option, as they prevent the fleas that spread tapeworms, and now include dewormers that treat the most common intestinal worms. You can request medication for your pet using our online Parasite Prevention Request Form.
Additional ways to protect your family from worms and other parasites include:
- Clean up your pet’s feces promptly and dispose of it in baggies
- Wash and disinfect litter boxes regularly
- Wash your hands after cleaning up pet waste or playing with your pet, and ensure children do the same
- Don’t let your dog interact with other animals' feces during their walks
- Ensure your pet is well-groomed, especially their rear end
- Avoid raw meat diets and don’t let pets that eat raw food lick people, especially children
- Always provide your pet with fresh, clean water so they don’t drink water unknowingly contaminated with parasites, dangerous diseases or toxic chemicals
- Prevent your pet from eating soil or grass, which may contain parasitic eggs
- Ensure that outdoor play areas for children are free of dog, cat, and raccoon feces