If you let your cat or dog go outdoors, or let them come into contact with other animals, there’s a very good chance that they’ll come in contact with intestinal worms. However, how to worm, when to worm, and how often is a contentious topic with pet owners. Our recommendation when it comes to deworming is to treat your pet as necessary, perform regular stool checks, and avoid combination deworming treatments.

Symptoms of intestinal worms

Symptoms of intestinal worms in pets
Get regular stool check by your veterinarian to identify the specific intestinal worm, and then target your treatment appropriately.

There are four types of worms that a pet owner should look out for:

Symptoms to look out for are:

In puppies and kittens, look for slow growth and potbellies. A potbelly on a puppy or kitten isn’t cute baby fat, but a sign of an infestation that needs immediate attention.

Some pets may have a few of the above symptoms, but some pets won’t show any signs until they are completely overrun by intestinal worms. When worms penetrate your pet’s GI and are left untreated, they can cause severe blockage, illness, and in extreme cases, even death.

Regular stool checks

Signs of intestinal worms in pets
Get regular stool checks and keep an eye out for common signs of intestinal worms.

Most veterinarians will include a stool check when you go in for your regular check-ups. Performing a stool check allows you to identify the intestinal worm you are dealing with so that you can treat that worm, and that worm only. The more specific your information is about the type of intestinal worm you are dealing with, the more specific you can be with your treatment.

Pet owners also need to be responsible for checking their pet’s stool on the regular. Yeah, we know, it’s not the glamorous side of pet ownership, but it is necessary if you want to give your pet the best life possible.

Tapeworms are notoriously hard to test for but appear like little pieces of rice in our pet’s stool, so look out for that!

Puppies and kitten are more fragile in their early stages of life, so we recommend that you get their stool checked every other week or so. The little guys aren’t as able to defend themselves against intestinal worms, so the quicker you can identify and treat, the better for your puppy or kitty.

Natural dewormers and targeted treatment

You never want to give your pet any medicine for an illness, infection, or an intestinal worm that it doesn’t have. Therefore we caution pet owners against monthly combination dewormers. These dewormers will treat all intestinal worms, regardless of whether they are present or not. Giving your pet medicine it doesn’t need can be bad for their health, and it can be the cause of autoimmune diseases, throw your pet’s gut out of balance, and sometimes build up a tolerance for a specific medicine, rendering it useless in the future.

Identifying intestinal worms in cats and dogs
If your kitten isn’t growing at a normal pace and has a potbelly, it could be a sign of intestinal worms.

There are natural dewormers available on the market that you can try, but you should talk to you vet after getting the result of the stool check to discuss the best treatment for your pet.

Once the treatment has been completed, you want to be sure to perform another stool check to be certain the worm is gone.

So, when it comes to when, how, and how often to deworm your cat or dog, only do it as needed, only treat the worm in question, and treat until you have rid your pet of intestinal worms.