golden retriever in the grass smiling

Heartworms and worms are a risk to all beloved pets. It’s important to have dogs and cats visit a veterinarian annually for a wellness visit, especially right after adopting a new dog or cat. Newly adopted pets have an increased risk for both heartworms and worms. Be sure to get a pet wellness check by an AAHA accredited veterinarian, like our expert team here at Bayside Animal Hospital.

Heartworms in Cats and Dogs

white cat sitting outside

Heartworm in cats and dogs is a very serious disease caused by a mosquito bite, causing the animal to get a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The issue of heartworm in dogs and cats is an increasing problem in the Kemah, Texas, area, which has one of the highest rates of heartworm-positive animals in the United States. Tests and medication are often easily dismissed by pet owners, but heartworm is a risk that pet owners need to be particularly aware of, especially when bringing a new pet home.

Worms in Cats and Dogs

Your pet may have other types of worms, too. Whipworms live in and near the large intestine. These worms enter the pet’s system by swallowing eggs found on infected soil.

Pets may also get roundworms. These worms usually enter the pet’s system by licking infected feces. While dog and cat feces are the most common carrier, they can also be spread by rodents, earthworms, cockroaches, and birds.

A fourth worm seen in dogs and cats is tapeworms, found in the pet’s small intestine. Your pet gets these worms from fleas.

Symptoms of Heartworms

male veterinarian checking out a small dog for worms and heartworm

Most times, heartworm in dogs or cats will produce a persistent cough. Pets with heartworm may seem overly tired after just a little bit of exercise. You may also notice your pet eating less and losing weight. 

One of the reasons we suggest a wellness check is to determine if your pet may have worms or other pet parasites, among other possible health issues. and parasites. If your pet has symptoms of heartworm, a simple blood test can be given to determine if the pet has heartworm so treatment can start right away.

Symptoms of Worms

Pets with worms will experience very different symptoms than heartworm. One of the first signs that your dog has whipworms may be watery, bloody stools. Eventually, you may notice weight loss, but hopefully, your pet will quickly visit us or another expert vet for treatment. Our team of experts will capture a stool sample and analyze it under a microscope. If whipworms are suspected, we’ll begin treatment right away. 

One of the issues with roundworms is that most pets show very few symptoms. Typically you will see the worms in the pet’s vomit or feces and that is the dead giveaway. When left untreated, roundworms can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Your pet’s coat will start to look dull and you may see weight loss. When you bring your pet to see us, one of our veterinarians will investigate further to make this diagnosis.

Unfortunately, kittens with worms are often infected by drinking milk from their mom, who is infected with worms. That’s why we recommend bringing them to see us after adoption–as kittens with worms will often have issues as they begin to grow up. 

Prevention of Heartworms and Worms in Pets

veterinarian checking a dog's wellness

During your pet’s veterinary exam, it’s essential to have your pet tested for heartworm. Dogs will be put on a preventative to stop them from getting heartworms in the future if the test comes back negative. This is typically a chewable pill. Topical, injectable, and chewable options are available. There is currently no preventative for cats, which is why it’s so important to keep close tabs on their health. Additionally, we suggest regularly disinfecting your pet’s food and water bowls, keeping their pet beds clean, and always clean up after your pet. 

Best Pet Health in Galveston Bay

The team at Bayside Animal Hospital is here to recommend treatments to prevent worms and heartworm in pets. Prevention and cleanliness are keys to avoiding parasite issues. Preventing all types of worms is essential for your pet’s health. Please schedule an appointment with our team at Bayside Animal Hospital to get your pet a head-to-tail wellness check today.