Puppy and kitten with child.

One of the most important lessons for owners of young pets can come as a surprise: parasite management. Beneath the many layers of delightful sweetness, intestinal parasites in puppies and kittens can cause numerous problems. Because every animal deserves the chance to enjoy optimal health and wellness, it is essential to test for and treat parasites as early as possible.

Parasite Prevention

Responsible pet ownership includes the prevention and treatment of parasites. Because of the devastating reach of fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, and other pests, we continually advocate for year-round medication to minimize infections and the spread of disease. A huge bonus to a pet’s parasite prevention medication is the fact that it has the potential to kill intestinal parasites, as well. 

Just Another Reason

It’s not just that parasites in puppies and kittens are gross, but they can also cause terrible symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, reduced appetite, anemia, and more. Plus, intestinal parasites can be zoonotic and have the potential to spread disease and illness to people. 

Parasites in Puppies and Kittens

Many parasites in puppies and kittens come through the placenta prior to birth, from their mother’s milk, or ingested from the environment or absorbed through the skin. As puppies and kittens grow, they build up their natural immunity to health risks, but they still need help to ward off disease. 

The most common threats to baby animals include:

  • Hookworms – Infected dogs may contaminate the environment when they pass hundreds of microscopic eggs in their feces. When they hatch, larvae can survive in the soil for months, potentially infecting new hosts. The life cycle is completed in the intestinal tract where they feed on blood.
  • Roundworms – Also found in the digestive tract, roundworms inhibit the absorption of key nutrients. They don’t attach to the walls of the intestines; instead, they move freely about the GI tract. Worms can be seen in vomit or diarrhea, and must be treated immediately. 
  • Whipworms – Rarely seen in cats, whipworms can cause painful episodes of diarrhea in dogs. 
  • Tapeworms – These parasites are passed by fleas (or other intermediate hosts like rodents) and create itchy bottoms. Tapeworms can be seen with the naked eye. Any scooting on the carpet should be immediately investigated.

Testing and Treatment

Fecal testing for parasites in puppies and kittens is part of routine care. Because false negatives are common, testing more than one stool sample is usually necessary to move forward. In addition to de-worming and treating the specific symptoms related to certain parasites, the best way to treat parasites in puppies and kittens is prescribing and maintaining doses of effective parasite prevention medication as soon as possible. 

Bringing home a puppy or kitten is an incredibly happy time that can be easily interrupted by intestinal parasites. Safeguarding their health, wellness, and comfort is an important priority. If you have additional questions about common parasites in puppies and kittens, please call us at (615) 356-8993. Our staff is always happy to help you at The Urban Pet.