Animals R People 2

Intestinal Parasites



Whipworms are common in dogs and found throughout the United States.

They are rare in cats.

Whipworms live in the large intestine and cause inflammation of the intestinal wall. Large amounts of mucous are produced and sometimes bleeding occurs. Animals may experience anemia, diarrhea and weight loss.


Hookworms are very common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats.

Hookworms can cause severe disease including anemia and serious diarrhea.

Animals become infected by ingestion of larvae either from contaminated soil or water; by eating an infected transport host; through larvae penetrating their skin; and by larvae infecting fetuses or the young via the uterus or mammary glands.

Symptoms include pale gums, lethargy and sometimes black, tarry or bloody stools.

Humans can get hookworms by the larvae penetrating the surface of their skin (usually bare feet).


Roundworms are the most common digestive tract parasite in dogs and cats (especially puppies and kittens).

Roundworms absorb nutrients from what the animal eats, interfere with digestion and can damage the lining of the intestine.

Animals with mild infestations may not show any signs of disease.

Animals with more severe infestations may be thin, have dull hair coats and develop a pot-bellied appearance. Some may become anemic and have vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.


Tapeworms are flat worms that are segmented. These segments break off and can often be found near the anus or on the tail of the pet. They are flat, white and may move if they have been passed recently. If they have dried, they will look like grains of uncooked rice or sesame seeds.

Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding the segments on the pet.

Flea control is a very important step in preventing tapeworms.

Prevention for both pets and humans

Clean up all feces immediately in the yard, home and on walks.

Wash hands thoroughly after pooper-scooping and litterbox cleaning.

Flea control.

Have annual (or more often) fecal exams performed to look for intestinal parasites.

Routine dewormings of puppies, kittens or stray animals.

Keeping your pets on Interceptor, a heartworm preventative, is an excellent way of preventing heartworms and intestinal parasites.

Intestinal Parasites: FAQs

I think my pet has worms. What do I do?

First, take a fecal sample and your pet to a veterinary clinic for a fecal exam. This is done in the clinic using a microscope. It takes about 20 minutes. Based on what is found, your vet can prescribe appropriate treatment. Your pet will need to be examined and weighed by the vet to receive medication.

I've seen worms in my pet's stool. What kind of worms are they?

The only types of worms you may see in the stool are tapeworms and roundworms. Tapeworms are small, flat and white. They may be single and look like a piece of rice or seen in chains of several of these pieces. Roundworms are long and round. Some people describe them as looking like cooked spaghetti. It is rare that hookworms or whipworms are seen in the stool.

If I know what type of worms my pet has, why do I have to do a fecal exam?

We recommend this because your pet could also have other types of worms or other organisms that you don't see. Most intestinal parasites can only be seen by a microscopic exam so your pet may have parasites that you have never seen. Different medications are required to treat different parasites.

Once I get rid of these worms, how do I keep my pet from getting them again?

Keep your pet's environment free of fecal matter. Controlling flea infestations will help eliminate tapeworms. Putting your pet on Interceptor will prevent hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, as well as heartworms.

What are the signs that my pet has worms?

Frequently, there are no signs - that is why it is recommended that you get routine fecal exams for your pet. Signs can include diarrhea, blood in the stool, dull coat, pot-bellied appearance, failure to put on weight, pale gums and weakness.

Are these worms contagious to other animals? Humans?

The eggs or immature forms of hookworms, roundworms and whipworms can be contagious to other animals and people. Children are most susceptible.

Treatment: Different treatment methods are available for different worms. The following is just a guideline - consult with your vet.

Tapeworms: Droncit injection

Hookworms: Pyrantel pamoate or Panacur

Whipworms: Panacur

Roundworms: Pyrantel pamoate

Preventative: The easiest way to prevent hook, whip and/or roundworms is to use Interceptor. Interceptor is best known as a heartworm preventative but it also removes whipworms and roundworms and controls hookworms in dogs. And it removes hookworms and roundworms in cats. Interceptor is a prescription medication and can only be dispensed to pets that have been examined by a licensed veterinarian.

Information adapted from the Richmond, VA Spay & Neuter Foundation

Feel free to pass along this information to those wanting the facts about Intestinal Parasites

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