Pregnant Pets Can Get Worms Too…Here’s What To Do
Do you have a pregnant dog or cat? Are you fearful that your pet may have also contracted a parasitic worm? Pregnancy alone can take a toll on an animal’s body and the added stress of a parasite can be scary. It is important to take your pet to the vet right away to confirm a pregnancy and a potential illness.
Pregnancy in Cats and Dogs
According to Purina, cat pregnancy normally lasts between 63 to 67 days, but it can be difficult to know exactly how long a cat has been pregnant as they do not always show signs in the beginning. Dogs are pregnant for about 63 days and have three trimesters, each about 21 days long.
It is highly recommended to feed your pregnant cat or dog a high-quality cat food that’s full of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat to ensure that they are getting enough nutrients for themselves and their litter. If you’re interested, you can check out our top cat food picks here!
During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels can cause an inactive parasitic worm in the tissues of a dog or cat’s body to become active. Once active, the worms can enter the milk supply of the mother or even directly to the litter in utero.
Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, can be transferred from a mother to her litter, causing illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. Your veterinarian will prescribe a medication that will protect both your mother dog or cat and her puppies or kittens from the parasitic worms.
Visiting the Vet
If you have any suspicion that your dog or cat is pregnant suffering from a parasitic worm, a vet visit should be at the top of your to-do list. Your veterinarian needs to confirm a diagnosis of both the suspected pregnancy and also the worm infestation.
Depending on the type of worm that your pet has contracted, your vet will prescribe a dewormer specific to that worm. It is important to note that some dewormers can be toxic to unborn kittens or puppies, and can cause complications to the pregnancy. In order to confirm the worm, your vet will take a fecal sample and/or perform a blood test to identify the parasite.
In both cats and dogs, there are very few signs of pregnancy in the first few weeks, so it may be difficult to identify. The vet may give your pet a blood test to analyze hormone levels if it is early in the pregnancy.
Around the fourth or fifth week, a vet can gently feel the belly for puppies or kittens. If you are too rough while feeling the belly, you could accidentally cause a miscarriage or potentially cause harm, so it is recommended that you leave this practice to the professionals. The vet will also perform an abdominal ultrasound to detect fetal heartbeats, however, it usually will not work early in the pregnancy.
A check-up by the vet during pregnancy provides an opportunity to check on diet, worming and vaccination status. It is important to continue your dog or cat’s preventative treatments such as intestinal worming, heartworm prevention, and flea prevention while she is pregnant. If you are unsure as to whether or not any of the products you are using will harm your pregnant pet, ask your vet during the exam.
De-Worming Puppies and Kittens
It is recommended that kittens are treated for worms starting at 3 weeks old, and then again every 2 weeks until 3 months of age. After a kitten has reached 3 months of age, treatment can be reduced to once a month until 6 months of age. After the kitten has reached 6 months, the kitten should follow an adult treatment regimen. Your veterinarian can recommend and prescribe the right medication for you to administer to your pet based on the type of worm and resulting symptoms.
In puppies, it is recommended to administer medicine used to destroy parasitic worms every 2 weeks after the initial dosage. Afterward, the puppies can start a regular broad-spectrum parasitic control treatment. The first round of medicine will kill the adult worms in the puppies’ gut, and the second dosage will kill the worms that have hatched from the eggs a few weeks after. Again, consult your veterinarian for the right medication.