Gastrointestinal Worms In Dogs & Cats

Domestic dogs and cats are commonly infested with gastrointestinal parasites such as roundworms, threadworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and Protozoa including Giardia and Coccidia. In heavy infestations, these parasites can be visible to the naked eye in faecal matter.

Clinical symptoms of parasite infestations in pets include increased appetite at the beginning, occasional nausea and vomiting, eating grass and garbage, mange or eczema-like skin eruptions with constant itching, gradual decline in health and vigor, adult worm appearance in faeces, rubbing of buttocks and anus over the grassy ground in threadworm and tapeworm infestations, diarrhoea with black faeces or redness around the anus and under the root of the tail, scratching of the back portion by mouth, cucumber seed-like tapeworm segments in stool, and anaemia or nose bleeding in severe cases. Protozoa infestations may cause foul-smelling diarrhoea.

Broad-spectrum anthelmintics are effective against a wide range of helminths in pets, especially in mixed infections where an accurate diagnosis is not possible. The dose is usually 1 tablet per 10 kg body weight, and a single dose is sufficient for prevention while a repeated dose after 21 days is required for cure. These drugs provide complete elimination and control for all types of roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms commonly seen in dogs and cats, as well as larval and adult stages of these parasites. They are safe and can be given as a routine therapy for the control of gastrointestinal worms in pets. Protozoan infestations should be treated with Metronidazole.

Levamisole oral tablets are effective against lungworms, with a dose of 7.5mg/kg body weight for dogs and 10mg/kg for cats. However, the drug is toxic, especially in cats, and injectable formulations should never be used. 
Regular deworming is essential, with two doses at an interval of 15 to 20 days usually sufficient for small dogs and puppies, while the deworming schedule varies depending on the age of the dog. For dogs from 1 to 3 months of age, deworming should occur every 15 days, from 3 to 6 months of age, deworming should occur every month, and from 6 months of age and throughout life, deworming should occur every 3 months.

“Ivermectin Injection” is the latest drug available in the market for the treatment and control of internal and external parasites, with a dose of 1 ml per 50 kg body weight by SC route, and three injections at an interval of 7-14 days being sufficient. However, pets should not be dewormed indiscriminately without an accurate diagnosis as some anthelmintics may be harmful to debilitated animals. No single medication is effective in treating all types of parasites, so all pets should have their stool checked at least once a year, and the proper drug should be used for the presence of parasites reported in the stool examination.

To prevent reinfection, it is important to control pets from eating their own or others’ stool as stools are the richest source of eggs of different parasites. In a multipet household, all pets should be tested and dewormed at the same time to prevent cross-infection among themselves. Since parasites may develop resistance to a particular drug used repeatedly, it is better to administer different drugs of the same group by rotation for deworming pets.