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Dogs and cats in Maine come in contact with a variety of gastrointestinal parasites – also known as worms. Tapeworms can be passed to your pet through hunting or by ingesting prey such as mice that are carrying the parasites. Roundworms are often found in puppies and kittens and can also be passed to pets through rodents. Hookworms and whipworms are less commonly seen but are certainly a possible threat to our pets.

In addition to being a health concern for pets, some gastrointestinal parasites can also be passed to humans. Roundworms can cause several problems in people, but the most well-known issue is migration of the parasite through the eye which can cause blindness. Hookworms can cause skin rashes that are very uncomfortable.

The best way to detect a worm infestation in your pet is a fecal floatation. This microscopic examination of the stool allows us to check for and identify parasite eggs your pet may be carrying. Waiting for your pet to pass worms before treating puts other pets and potentially you at risk for becoming infected. At Ridge Runner Veterinary Services, we recommend annual fecal examinations to ensure that your pet is not harboring gastrointestinal parasites. If parasite eggs are found during a fecal floatation, we will recommend a series of dewormings and possibly a recheck of the feces about a month after treatment.

To prevent infection in dogs, we recommend monthly heartworm preventive such as Interceptor. Not only is this heartworm preventative effective at killing immature heartworms, it also is a good dewormer for the gastrointestinal tract. In cats, heartworm prevention can also be used monthly. In addition, there are topical dewormers approved in cats that are often easier than giving pills. All pets should be tested for heartworm with a blood test before starting a heartworm preventive. For more information on heartworm, please read the Heartworm Disease in Maine article on our website.

If you have any questions about worms in your pet or you would like to bring a stool sample for us to examine, please don’t hesitate to call us at 223-2596. Please bring a stool sample from your pet when you come for his/her annual visit. For additional information online, please visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council website at www.capcvet.org