Do You Like Taking Your Pet on Outdoor Adventures?
Whether it’s hiking, swimming, or simply strolling around the neighborhood, a lot of pet parents enjoy exploring the great outdoors with their furry pals. Why wouldn’t they, right? Aside from being a wonderful bonding activity and form of exercise, going outside with no one but your pet can be very relaxing.
However, the outdoors is home to all sorts of creatures, including lizards, crickets, and cockroaches. While these critters themselves aren’t necessarily something to be afraid of (well, except maybe cockroaches), the stomach worms inside them are!
What Are Stomach Worms Exactly?
Stomach worms, medically known as Physaloptera, are parasites that affect both cats and dogs. They typically reside in amphibians, such as lizards and frogs; and small insects, including crickets, cockroaches, and beetles. Found almost everywhere around the world, stomach worms usually grow about 30 to 40 millimeters long and attach themselves to the lining of the intestines.
How Can My Pet Get Them?
Pets normally get stomach worms by eating infected critters, but they can also pick it up when they come into contact with the feces of an infected animal. After ingestion, stomach worm larvae develop and mature into adult worms inside the intestines. Once your pet is infected, they’ll also start shedding stomach worm eggs in their feces.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Them?
While it’s possible for infected pets not to show signs of illness, they may also develop gastritis or inflammation of the stomach lining. Oftentimes, this leads to vomiting, diarrhea (dark-colored stool) and loss of appetite.
If left untreated, the stomach worms can damage the stomach lining even more and cause ulcers to form, which can cause blood to appear in the feces.
According to MSDVetManual.com, they may also migrate to other organs and cause anemia or low red blood cell count, as well as weight loss.
How Can My Vet Tell If My Pet Has Them?
If you notice any of the above signs in your pet, take them to the vet immediately. Your veterinarian will do a gastroscopy and examine your furry friend’s esophagus and intestinal tract for stomach worms using a device called gastroscope. However, if your pet is too young and too small for a gastroscopy, your veterinarian may simply ask for a sample of your pet’s vomit for examination.
How Do I Get Rid of Them?
For dogs, a stomach worm infestation is treated through a combination of three anti-worm medications: fenbendazole (given orally once a day for three days), pyrantel pamoate (given in two doses every 2 to 3 weeks), and ivermectin (given orally twice every 2 weeks). For cats, only two anti-worm medications are used: pyrantel pamoate (given orally twice every 2 to 3 weeks), and ivermectin (given in two doses orally every 2 weeks). Even after completing the treatment, your veterinarian may ask you to bring your pet in for a checkup to make sure all the worms are gone.
How Can I Make Sure My Pet Doesn’t Get Them?
The best way to prevent your pet from contracting stomach worms, and other intestinal parasites, is through monthly worm preventatives. It comes in different forms, with varying strengths and duration of efficacy. If you’re interested, you can talk to your veterinarian about putting your pet on a monthly worm preventative. Most of them are formulated to work against fleas, ticks, gnats, and mosquitoes, as well.
For extra protection, use a pet-safe bug spray on your pet whenever you take them outside, especially to insect-ridden areas, like forests, rivers, and ponds. We highly recommend these ones.
In addition, always keep a close eye on them and make sure that they don’t eat any insects or go near feces. It’s also best to keep a portable pet water bottle on-hand whenever you go hiking or take part in any outdoor activities with your pet, so you can easily provide them with clean water if needed. The Tuff Pupper Pupflask is pretty popular among pet owners, but you can also check out other options here. Since stagnant pools or bodies of water often harbor parasites, allowing your pet to drink from them can lead to worm infestations and stomach problems.