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Does Your Cat Have a Stomach Worm Infection?

Does Your Cat Have A Stomach Worm Infection?If you haven’t brought your cat to the vet in a while, and he or she starts exhibiting signs of stomach discomfort, your feline friend may very well have a stomach worm infection called Physalopterosis.

It can affect felines of any breed, age, and gender—it can even infect dogs. However, pets that go outside are more likely to develop the infection because outdoor critters, such as bugs and rodents, typically carry the parasitic worm that causes it.


What Is Physalopterosis?

Physalopterosis is the term used to call the infection caused by a parasitic worm known as Physaloptera spp., which targets the gastrointestinal tract. It doesn’t take a lot of these worms for a stomach infection to develop, in fact, infections from just a single worm of the species is pretty common. Cats can pick up the parasitic worm by eating infected insects or animals, such as cockroaches, crickets, frogs, beetles, or mice.


What Are the Signs?

Physalopterosis is a stomach worm infection that affects the gastrointestinal tract and causes the stomach lining to become inflamed, leading to stomach issues and a feeling of discomfort. Other signs to watch out for include loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, and dark-colored stool. However, it can be difficult to notice a stomach worm infection in cats because most of them show no outward signs of illness. So, it’s important to keep up with regular vet visits to detect any medical concerns early.


How Is the Infection Diagnosed?

Does Your Cat Have A Stomach Worm Infection?If your cat starts having gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting, loss of appetite, or any of the symptoms mentioned above, take him or her to the vet immediately. Tell your veterinarian about the symptoms you’ve observed, any changes you’ve made to your cat’s diet, and any medication they’re currently taking. Your veterinarian will also need to know whether or not you allow your cat to roam outside to rule out any other causes.

After you’ve discussed everything with your veterinarian, and it’s confirmed that the most probable cause of your cat’s stomach problems is a parasitic worm, a diagnostic tool called endoscopic gastroscopy will be performed.

Your veterinarian will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera at the end into your cat’s mouth and gently move it all the way into the stomach to examine both the linings of the stomach and intestines. You may also be asked for a vomit or stool sample from your cat for further examination since these worms can be quite hard to detect given their small size (2.5 to 5 cm long).


How Is It Treated?

Does Your Cat Have A Stomach Worm Infection?If your veterinarian finds worms inside your cat’s stomach and intestinal walls while doing the endoscopic gastroscopy, they may manually remove the worms. For good measure, they will most likely prescribe your cat with an anthelmintic medication to make sure all worms are killed.

For stomach worm infections, veterinarians typically prescribe Pyrantel pamoate or Ivermectin, which are both very effective in getting rid of parasitic intestinal worms. Both medications are administered twice over the course of two weeks.

After completing the treatment, your veterinarian may call you in again for a follow-up examination. A stool sample is usually done to confirm if your cat is officially worm-free. If not, you may be prescribed a stronger anthelmintic medication.


How Can It Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent stomach worm infection is to keep your cat away from potential carriers and sources of parasitic intestinal worms by keeping them indoors. However, if that’s not an option, then you can always harness train your cat and take him or her on supervised walks instead. Another option is to build your cat an enclosure that’s inaccessible to other animals, where he or she can safely enjoy the outside environment, such as a catio or an outdoor playpen.


Has your cat ever had a stomach worm infection? How did you get rid of it? Let us know down below!