Kittens and cats often get worms in their systems and these worms need to be treated under a vets care only to prevent them from becoming a serious health threat. The most common types of kitten worms are tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms.
Symptoms of worm infections are quite similar regardless of the worm that is infecting a kitten. The only way to be 100% sure of the types of worm infecting your animal is to provide a stool sample to your local veterinarian for testing. The stool sample needs to be as fresh as possible and can be transported to the vet’s office in a bag. Some vet offices provide stool sample kits for pet owners to use.
Following is an overview of the three most common infections and how to treat them.
Tapeworms live in a cat’s digestive tract absorbing much needed nutrients from the body. They infect an animal through infected fleas, uncooked meat or when a cat eats other animals such as rodents. Tapeworm eggs are eliminated through an infected cat’s stool.
Evidence of the worm’s presence can be seen in stool or around a cat’s rear end where eggs and worm segments are often found. In severe infections, evidence of the worm’s presence can be seen in vomit.
Treatment is simple. A dewormer (usually in pill form) is the common form of prescribed treatment. Veterinarians may also suggest some type of flea control as fleas are a common source of infection.
There are several types of roundworms. However, they have similar symptoms and the same treatment options. Roundworms are very common in kittens as they can be passed on through the mother’s milk.
Symptoms of roundworm infection are essentially the same as the symptoms of tapeworm infection. Again, this is why stool testing to confirm the type of worm infecting your cat or kitten is critical to ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment.
There are additional symptoms in kittens: “vomiting, diarrhea, dull coats, a pot belly on a thin body, and weakness” are all symptoms of roundworm infection. A dewormer treats the condition although it may have to be repeated to be effective.
The least common of kitten worm infections, hookworms are generally present in hot, humid climates. They infect kittens through their mother’s milk, through prey and through rotten meat.
Hookworms have rather severe effects on their hosts including anemia, diarrhea and weight loss. A rash between the toes and dark black stools or stools that are dark red may also be present. Hookworm infections are very serious and must be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. While the infection may not be very common, it is very deadly if not treated.
Kittens and cats with hookworms may have to stay a day or two at a veterinary clinic for the initial treatment process. All areas used by the kitten will need to be cleaned and sanitized thoroughly and follow-up vet visits will most likely be required. If a pet owner lives in an area that has hookworms, it is a good idea to have pets tested for the parasite every few months.
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