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Introduction | Causes & Prevention | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Test | Treatment Options

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Roundworm is a parasitic illness that is caused by an infection with parasites known as ascaridoid nematodes. Of the three types of ascaridoid nematodes, Toxocara canis, Toxocara cati, and Toxascaris leonine, only T. canis can spread to humans. In most cases the roundworms infect the intestines, but in some cases the worms can migrate through the skin and infect the skin and the body. People are most often infected by roundworm when they walk barefoot in areas where dogs defecate.

Symptoms & Signs

Signs of roundworms in cats include poor skin and coat conditions, stunted growth in kittens, a potbellied appearance, and expelled worms in the vomit or feces. In severe cases, roundworms can cause anemia which results in pale gums and lethargy as well as respiratory problems which have the potential to develop into pneumonia.

Diagnosis & Tests

Roundworm is diagnosed through a fecal test. This test involves taking a sample of the feces and placing it in a solution that causes parasitic eggs to float. The top portion of the solution is then examined under a microscope, and roundworm eggs can be conclusively diagnosed through their unique shape.

Treatment Options

Roundworm is a type of intestinal parasite that can infect cats and kittens. This worm matures and reproduces in the cat's intestines where it survives off of intestinal nutrients. There are two types of roundworm species that can infect cats and kittens: Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonine. Fortunately there are a number of treatments that can be used to eliminate these parasites.

Treating Roundworm Infection

The most popular veterinarian treatments for roundworm include: Drontal or Drontal Plus which contains the active ingredient febantel, Strongid and Nemex which contain the active ingredient pyrantel pamoate, and Panacur which contains the active ingredient fenbendazole. Two products which treat roundworms in cats in addition to other types of parasites include Heartguard Plus, which contains the active ingredient pyrantel pamoate, and Revolution, which contains the active ingredient selamectin. All of these treatments, except for Revolution, are given orally. Some treatments require more than one dose, and it is important to follow the dosage instructions to completely eliminate the roundworms.
There are over the counter medications which can treat roundworms in cats, and these medications contain the active ingredient piperazine. However it is best to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if you see any worms in the cat's stools. The worms you have seen may not have been roundworms.
Roundworm treatments do not kill the roundworms; they stun the worms so that the worms are passed through in the cat's feces. If you have treated your cat for roundworms, be aware that you will see the worms in the cat's stool. Once the worms are exposed to air they will begin to die, but until they do you may see the worms moving about in your cat's feces.

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