Intestinal Parasites – Awareness is Key

The usual signs of worm infection are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a distended belly, and weight loss.

Taking my dog Daisy out for a walk very early in the morning is a refreshing and soul rejuvenating experience. Dogs are always in the “now” and when I’m able to stay aware of the “now” with my Daisy each morning, I enjoy the gift of being part of a truly magical place appropriately called “The Present.” In that state of awareness I don’t have a care in the world, no conversation that I have to engage in, no questions that I have to answer, no bills to pay, no job to go to, and for a brief period of time each morning I feel firmly connected with the universe and at ONE with all of creation.

Before I begin my daily walks, I usually let Daisy go use her favorite spot in my yard to relieve herself. On this one particular April morning my daily walk and peace of mind were threatened when I noticed small flat segmented worms that looked like rice in Daisy’s stool. What I was looking at was most certainly an infestation of tapeworms. For the past 6 years I have advised many people on how to effectively and easily eradicate tapeworms, but now that it was my own pet with them, all that knowledge seemed to be drowning in a tidal wave of emotions. Luckily for Daisy and for me, most of the medication used for the treatment of tapeworms is readily available, not too expensive, and does not require a prescription.

Dog Worms 3 is a broad spectrum OTC de-wormer

That evening I gave Daisy a dose consisting of 2 tablets of the medium/large Dog Worms 3 which is the correct dose for dogs weighing between 50.1 and 100 lbs. With only this single dose, Daisy’s symptom were completely gone in about 2 days, and I was feeling confident that the worms had all been eradicated within the first week after treatment.

This intestinal worm infestation that happened to Daisy is the most common health problem affecting kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs. The 4 types of worms that generally infect our pets are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Typically, worms survive and thrive by feeding off of the nutrients and blood from the host. The infected pet must be treated properly for these parasites in order to prevent malnutrition and anemia.

Sometimes a worm infestation is not recognized until symptoms of anemia and malnourishment are present. If the worm count is small there may be no signs or symptoms at all. The usual signs of worm infection however are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a distended belly, and weight loss. Typically the stool is examined by a veterinarian for eggs or worms to detect the presence of a parasitic infestation.

Roundworms are tan or white worms that are “spaghetti-like” with tapered ends. They are usually between 2 and 6 inches in length. The 3 types are: Toxacara cati which infects cats, Toxicara canis infects dogs, and Toxascaris leonine which infects both cats and dogs. Roundworms are usually transmitted by consuming worm eggs from the soil, through mother’s milk while nursing, or by consuming an animal that is infected with the worms. Symptoms of roundworm infestation may include bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, and bloated belly. Dogs infected with roundworms are usually treated with over the counter medications such as Dog Worms 3 or Panacur C. Prescription medications that may be prescribed by the veterinarian are Heartgard Plus or Iverhart Plus, Iverhart Max, Sentinel, Trifexis, Avantage Multi, and Drontal Plus.  Cats may be treated with the prescription medications Drontal Feline, Profender, Advantage Multi, or Revolution.

Hookworms are another type of worm that has hook-like teeth which attach to the intestinal lining. Malnutrition and anemia are the most common complications that develop due to loss of iron and other nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. Hookworms are transmitted through the skin or by ingesting the larva. Dogs infected with Hookworms may be treated with over the counter medications such as Dog Worms 3 or Panacur C. Medications that may be prescribed by the veterinarian include Heartgard Plus or Iverhart Plus, Drontal Plus, Advantage Multi, Trifexis, and Sentinel. Cats may be treated with the prescription medications Drontal Feline, Profender, Advantage Multi, or Revolution.

Tapeworm Tabs for Cats is an over-the-counter treatment for tapeworm in cats

Tapeworms also attach themselves to the lining of the intestines and are visible to the naked eye as small, white segments resembling rice in the stool. Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas or by eating an infected rodent or other small animal. Weight loss and itching around the anus may be present with this worm infestation. Over the counter treatments for dogs infected with tapeworms include Dog Worm 3 or Panacur C. Medications that your veterinarian may prescribe include Drontal Plus, Iverhart Max, Cestex, and Droncit Canine. Cats may be treated with the over the counter medication called Tapeworm Tablets for Cats. A veterinarian may choose instead to prescribe Cestex, Droncit Feline, or Drontal Feline.

Whipworms have a skinny head and a thicker tail which gives them a “whip” shape. This is mostly a dog disease and infection in cats is very uncommon. If the infection is big enough it can cause bloody diarrhea and the dog will become weak and dehydrated. Whipworms can be treated successfully with the over the counter medication Panacur C. Other medications that require a prescription from you veterinarian include Drontal Plus Canine, Advantage Multi, Sentinel, and Trifexis. Once treatment is given and the worms are cleared the dog will usually recover rather quickly and fully.

Finally it is important to keep in mind when preventing worm infections to make sure to pick up the feces as soon as possible to keep the worm eggs from developing. This is also much better for the environment. The roundworm and tapeworm are visible to the naked eye and are sometimes seen in the vomit or stool. Over the counter medication for worms such as the Dog Worms 3, Panacur C, and Tapeworm Tablets for Cats are easy to use, extremely effective, and cost efficient. Hookworms are not visible to the naked eye and whipworms are usually not seen because they mostly remain in the large intestine.  In many cases a visit to the veterinarian is highly recommended to properly diagnose and treat worm infection. Your veterinarian may also want to use a broad spectrum wormer regularly to prevent, treat, and keep the pet worm free.

Developing a good relationship with your pet’s veterinarian is an extremely important ingredient for keeping your pet healthy. Another great resource is the pharmacist at 1-800-PetMeds who is always more than happy to answer any medication related questions that you might have.

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62 Comments

  1. I took my boston terrier for his annual exam. He also had a fecal test and tested negative for worms. I gave him his heartguard plus dose. Later in the day he pooped a long white worm about 12 in. It was not round but flat. I called the vet and they said it was probably round worm because tape worm does not come out in a long piece..only like rice..I got Drontal pills for my all 4 dogs because I was afraid they all might have parasites and the girl at the vets said Drontal will treat all parasites. I don’t understand how he had this long worm when he just tested negative for worms. Could the Heartguard plus pill have made him expel the worm. I am still waiting for my vet to call me back because I have so many questions. I am constantly getting pills for all 4 dogs for tapeworm everytime they catch a rabbit that comes into our fenced yard.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Most likely roundworms which the hearguard expelled from your dog’s digestive tract. I dont think you need to worry about mass worming everyone.

  3. we always have rabbit poop in our yard and my 4 dogs are always eating it. Can they get tapeworm from this? My vet says no, it will not harm them. Is this true? I know when they actually catch a rabbit and chew on it they can get tapeworm. when this happens I get Cestex pills from my vet and worm them all. I did give all 4 dogs the drontal pills after my Boston expelled the long white worm. Is it necessary to give him any more pills? All 4 dogs are on once a month heartguard plus. thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    It is possible for dogs to get coccidia from rabbits. Only stool check can tell if pets have them or not.

  5. my dog finished the 6 months triflexis and im very worried because she skips last month’s triflexis pill and i do not want to see any worms on her because she sleeps with me. can i still give it to her without consulting a vet for worms prevention? i do not see any worms because when she vomits she swallows it right away.

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Just go ahead and resume heartworm dosing

  7. I’ve been giving my almost 12 yr. old cat omeprazole for stomach acid and possible ulcers. She now has tapeworms and I have to get something from the vet for those. My question is could the omeprazole have caused the tapeworms?

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    I don’t think the omeprazole involved with the finding of tapeworms, which come from your cat ingesting a flea at some point in his life

  9. I gave my granddaughter’s 8 week old puppy an OTC dewormer yesterday but not sure when or if I should repeat the dosage. The package did not say.

  10. I treated my 4 y old female husky with trifexis 2 and a half weeks ago because she was very skinny rib and hip bones showing. When I got her. We thought it was worms because she had diarrhea and vomiting. She started gaining weight on trifexis but just recently started very very gelly poop. And dropping weight again two vets now have said I can’t give her a board spectrum dewormer while on the fixes is this right? How do I treat it then.

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 30, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I see no problem using broad spectrum wormer like panacure C from 1800petmeds. Rather harmless treatment. Consider FULL GI WORKUP if signs persist, as this breed very prone to chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

  12. My dog ate cat poop in the yard that seemed a little old and had white rice like worms in it. I dont know if they were maggots or tapeworms. I gave him his heartgard plus. Will that be ok? How do I stop the infestation in my yard? Thanks.

  13. My husky was diagnosed with coccidia. She is on an organic herbal anti parasitic called kocci free by amber technology. It says do not use in addition to vibactra. Vibactra plus. Kennel koff. Hwf. Reptaid. Reptaid xl. Or urinary tract relief. But my husky is raw fed so I give her digestive enzymes prebiotic and prebiotic can I give her these at the same time?

  14. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I am not familiar with this natural herbal coccidia medicine so I can’t comment on whether it is safe to use at same time as all of these.

  15. my dog ate possum poop 2 days ago and has been vomiting ever since. she is 1 and 1/2 and usually very energetic but she isnt herself, what should i do?

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Best to take her to vet for evaluation

  17. I went online to see if 1800 petmeds sells Amber Technology’s Vibectra Plus. And someone asked why one thing will not address all parasites. I think I get part of why. FIrst of all as far as felines go there is one pill that is perscription strength that does address al of the makor parasites. Like Whip worm Tape Worm , Pin Worm etc. It will not kill the one cell protozoa type like Giardia or however it is spelled. Since this particular one is microscopic. The Pill I am referring to is called Drontal and I have sucessfully poked it down many a kitten gullet to rid them of any and all worms. And it works great. You might search to see if there is a like version of this Drontal for canines or whatever species you are looking to worm,To do this and make sure all eggs are also killed you administer once and again in 2 weeks. Exactly .

  18. I gave my lab mix puppy trifexis 2 days ago as a preventative. She had small skinny spaghetti like worms in her stool this morning. Is this just the medicine working or should I take her to the vet?

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 23, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    This is likely the wormer in the trifexis product working by killing the worms and expelling them out of the digestive tract. No need to take to vet at this time in my opinion

  20. We have a Lab about 3 years old and a couple of months ago we took him to the vet to have him checked for worms, etc. so he could be put on the trifexis. He tested neg. for worms. He has now been on the Trifexis for about 3 months now & I noticed that he throw up last night and today is stomach has been making noise all day. When he pooped his stool had a long white worm that was moving in it. My question is if he tested negative for worms where did the worm come from & what do we do to treat him?

  21. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Sometimes after a pet is given trifexis, any intestinal worms present in the digestive tract will be pushed out. The only major parasite not covered by trifexis are tapeworms, which need a different worming medication. I would take stool into vet for evaluation.

  22. I’ve been giving my 3yr old Shih Tzu Trifexis for the last 4mo. Lastnight was his 4mo dose I gave him, which was a week overdue. I noticed in is stool this morning he had white looking rice grains all in his solid stool. We have stray cats all around our house, he’s our only dog so I’m shocked to have seen this is his stool this morning. I haven’t noticed any signs and I’m worried if we are at risk of catching something now. Please help. Will the Trifexis dose that I gave him lastnight be enough to treat the whote rice looking worms? And are we at risk of getting these??

  23. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    No real risk to humans as long as you dont ingest the tapeworm segments. Trifexis does not treat tapeworms. You will need a different medication such as praziquantel or droncit to name two common ones.

  24. I just gave my 9 lbs American Eskimo her monthly Trifexis and now I notice she has tapeworms. Trifexis does not kill tapeworms. My question is, can I give her a broad spectrum medication in conjunction with the Trifexis?

  25. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Trifexis does not treat tapeworms. It is ok to use other meds like praziquantel from 1800petmeds.

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