Feline Parasite Prevention and Detection

Regular parasite protection is an important part of your cat’s life.
See below for some common cat parasites, how to detect them and how to keep them from coming back.

CANINE PARASITES AND AILMENTS

Feline Parasites and Ailments

Description

Prevention

Detection

Heartworm

Contrary to common public perception, cats CAN and DO get heartworms, although the situation is vastly different from canine heartworm disease. The cat is not a natural host for the heartworm which means the migrating larval heartworm is not likely to find its way to the heart when passed from a mosquito. Mosquitoes that carry heartworm definitely prefer to feed on dogs, but cat infections will happen from time to time. While a moderate heartworm infection in a dog would involve 25-50 adult heartworms, infected cats typically have less than six adult worms. Because the feline heart and blood vessels are so small, these few worms can wreak havoc. Worms found in the canine heart can reach lengths up to 14 inches, but the average length of worms found in feline hearts is only 5-8 inches. An adult heartworm can live up to 5 years in a dog, but will only live 2-3 years in a cat probably due to the cat’s especially strong immune reaction.

Heartworm infection is easily and affordably prevented through the regular use of a heartworm prevention product, such as Heartgard or Revolution. These products are administered orally or topically (on-the-skin) and will prevent heartworm, as well as other internal parasites and occasionally fleas and ticks, for an entire month. Find our heartworm preventative products in the shop, or call 1.855-838-9355 to discuss these products with a Vet Clinic representative.

Heartworm disease can be prevented with a monthly heartworm prevention product, like Heartgard or Trifexis. While there is no foolproof method of preventing Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, these can be discouraged by keeping your pet on a regular anti-tick preventative, such as Revolution.

There is currently no test for detecting Heartworm in cats.

Roundworm

Throughout much of the U.S., roundworms and tapeworms (flatworms) are far and away the most common intestinal parasites of our pets. These worms can cause a variety of problems including diarrhea, poor coat health, and general failure to thrive. In puppies and kittens roundworm infestation is the most common cause of the pot-bellied appearance. Severe infestation can lead to liver, lung, and brain damage. Roundworms are not only contagious for other pets, but also for humans, especially children via contact with pet feces. The migrating larvae in children can cause serious and tragic disease especially of the eye and brain. Rarely, a puppy or kitten will vomit or pass in his stool an entire adult roundworm. It is approximately 2″ – 10″ long, white, and may look like a piece of spaghetti. Although adult roundworms mainly infest only puppies and kittens, mature dogs and cats can also harbor the parasite in their intestines.

There is a similar roundworm cycle in the cat, but with an important difference. Instead of larvae going from mother cat to kitten in the womb, the transfer takes place in the milk during nursing. Cat roundworm larvae can live in the mother cat’s breast tissue until nursing stimulates the larvae to enter the milk, transferring them into the suckling kitten. Roundworm may be detected, treated, and prevented by The Vet Clinic.

The Vet Clinic includes a dewormer with each Kitten and Puppy Pack and urges that all puppies and kittens up to about one year-of-age be wormed three times, two to four weeks apart. We use pyrantel pamoate (e.g. Strongid) to deworm puppies and kittens. This treatment is given orally and is very simple to administer. This is recommended for all dogs.

Administer a heartworm preventative product to your pet every month for the duration of its life. Dogs and cats are at risk for heartworm and intestinal parasite infection at any age and in most areas of the U.S. The Vet Clinic also recommends an annual fecal test. It is an affordable and easy way to test for roundworms and other internal parasites.

Annual Fecal Tests
Pet owners may submit a fecal sample to any VIP Petcare Community Veterinary Clinic, including The Vet Clinic. Please ensure that the sample is no older than 12 hours, if at all possible, and make sure the sample tube is at least half full for an accurate result. The Vet Clinic fecal test will screen your pet for roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, and coccidia. In addition, the national laboratory that we partner with will also report any other irregular findings in the test that you can then discuss with your family veterinarian.

All of the common bacterial or parasitic infections that will be discovered by the annual fecal test can be treated. You will receive an automated phone call from a Vet Clinic or VIP Petcare representative for any positive results, to discuss your pet’s test results and treatment.

Whipworm

Whipworm is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestines of both dogs and cats. Whipworm infestations can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, anemia, and weight loss. However, a whipworm infestation may cause no symptoms at all. Whipworm can survive in the environment anywhere from a few months to a few years, and is transmitted when dogs or cats ingest infested matter.

Dogs and cats of all ages may contract whipworms, but to this point it is not considered a zoonotic disease (transmissible to humans). Whipworms may be detected, treated, and prevented by The Vet clinic.

Administer a heartworm preventative product to your pet every month for the duration of its life. Dogs and cats are at risk for heartworm and intestinal parasite infection at any age and in most areas of the U.S. we also recommend an annual fecal test. It is an affordable and easy way to test for whipworm and other internal parasites. The Vet Clinic uses pyrantel pamoate (e.g. Strongid) to deworm puppies and kittens. This treatment is given orally and is very simple to administer.

Annual Fecal Test
Pet owners may submit a fecal sample to any VIP Petcare Community Veterinary Clinic, including The Vet Clinic. Please ensure that the sample is no older than 12 hours, if at all possible, and make sure the sample tube is at least half full for an accurate result. Our fecal test will screen your pet for roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, and coccidia. In addition, the national laboratory that The Vet Clinic partners with will also report any other irregular findings in the test that you can then discuss with your family veterinarian.

All of the common bacterial or parasitic infections that will be discovered by the annual fecal test can be treated by The Vet Clinic. You will receive an automated phone call from a representative for any positive results, to discuss your pet’s test results and treatment.

Hookworm

Hookworm is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestines of both dogs and cats. Hookworms can cause anemia, poor appetite, coughing, diarrhea, constipation, internal inflammation, and sometimes death. They live off the blood of their host.

Puppies and kittens may contract hookworms through the milk from their mother. All dogs and cats are at risk for contraction of hookworms, and though infection is rare in humans, it is possible for pets to transmit hookworms to their owners. Hookworms may be detected, treated, and prevented by The Vet Clinic.

To prevent roundworms and hookworms, all puppies and kittens should be repeatedly dewormed starting at three weeks of age (before the roundworms are mature enough to lay eggs and contaminate the environment with more roundworms). Since most people don’t acquire their puppy or kitten until it is 6-10 weeks old, the deworming process usually doesn’t begin until that time. The Vet Clinic includes a dewormer with each Kitten and Puppy Pack and urges that all puppies and kittens up to about one year-of-age be wormed three times, two to four weeks apart. We use pyrantel pamoate (e.g. Strongid) to deworm puppies and kittens. This treatment is given orally and is very simple to administer.

Administer a heartworm preventative product to your pet every month for the duration of its life. Dogs and cats are at risk for heartworm and intestinal parasite infection at any age and in most areas of the U.S. The Vet Clinic also recommends an annual fecal test– an affordable and easy way to test for hookworms and other internal parasites. We use pyrantel pamoate (e.g. Strongid) to deworm puppies and kittens. This treatment is given orally and is very simple to administer.

There is currently no test for detecting Hookworm in cats.

Giardia

Giardia infection is a common intestinal parasite in both dogs and cats. Giardia can be contracted through ingestion of contaminated food or materials. Infected animals shed Giardia cysts that can be picked up by other animals in food, water, or through self-grooming. This parasite has zoonotic potential, which means humans may contract Giardia as well. Giardia is typically characterized by bloody stool and/or diarrhea.
Giardia may be detected and treated by The Vet Clinic.

Giardia cannot be prevented. It is only treatable once diagnosed with a fecal test.

Annual Fecal Test
Pet owners may submit a fecal sample to any Vet Clinic and VIP Petcare Community Veterinary Clinics. Please ensure that the sample is no older than 12 hours, if at all possible, and make sure the sample tube is at least half full for an accurate result. The fecal test will screen your pet for roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, and coccidia. In addition, the national laboratory that we partner with will also report any other irregular findings in the test that you can then discuss with your family veterinarian.

All of the common bacterial or parasitic infections that will be discovered by the annual fecal test can be treated by The Vet Clinic.

Tapeworm

Tapeworms can cause a variety of problems including diarrhea, coat changes, and failure to thrive. They are more common in adult pets than in puppies and kittens, but are present in all areas of the U.S. and can be contracted by all mammals. The most common variety is transmitted by fleas. Tapeworm can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with tapeworm-infected pets and their feces.

The tapeworm in the intestine breaks off its rear segments periodically, and they appear in the feces of an infested pet. The segments are white, flat, and approximately ¼” – ½” long and resemble “moving cucumber seeds or grains of rice”. If you see these moving objects in a fresh stool or stuck to the hair of a pet’s rear end, then the pet likely has a tapeworm infestation and can move straight to treatment. When the moving segments crawl away, dry up, and crack, they release hundreds of microscopic tapeworm eggs. Neither the segments nor the eggs are infective to a pet or a human, but if a flea larva happens to be nearby, it may ingest one of these eggs. When the larva matures into an adult flea (with the tapeworm egg still inside) and is ingested by a pet during grooming, he/she will get the tapeworm. The key to preventing tapeworm infestation is flea control.

Tapeworm may be treated at our clinics with injectable Praziquantel for cats.

A phone or web order may also be placed for Profender Tapeworm Deworming for cats to treat at home. To order an at home treatment, your pet must have been seen at The Vet Clinic within the past twelve months. Prevention of tapeworm is only possible through the regular use of a flea preventative product, as fleas carry and spread tapeworm infections.

Annual Fecal Test
Microscopic examination of the stool does not always reveal tapeworm eggs. Veterinarians often must depend on the pet owner for a diagnosis of tapeworms (presence of white worm segments in feces or on the pet’s fur- will look like grains of rice).

All of the common bacterial or parasitic infections that will be discovered by the annual fecal test can be treated.

Coccidia

Coccidia is a parasitic type of infection seen in both dogs and cats. Infection often occurs from contact with infected feces, and is most common amongst kittens. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, often leading to bloody diarrhea. Auxiliary symptoms such as weight loss, dehydration, and weakness may occur as well.

Coccidia may be detected and treated by The Vet Clinic.

Coccidia cannot be prevented. It is only treatable once diagnosed with a fecal test.

Annual Fecal Test
Pet owners may submit a fecal sample to any Vet Clinic locations. Please ensure that the sample is no older than 12 hours, if at all possible, and make sure the sample tube is at least half full for an accurate result. The fecal test will screen your pet for roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, and coccidia. In addition, the national laboratory that The Vet Clinic partners with will also report any other irregular findings in the test that you can then discuss with your family veterinarian.

All of the common bacterial or parasitic infections that will be discovered by the annual fecal test can be treated by The Vet Clinic.