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The 5 Most Common Ways Dogs and Cats Get Intestinal Worms

Dogs and cats are susceptible to many of the same types of parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, heartworms and tapeworms. Unfortunately, worms infect pets more than you might think.

 cat grooming itself outside

Dogs and cats can acquire intestinal worms in a number of ways, often through your pet’s natural instincts to sniff and hunt. Discover the common places and activities that can put your pet at risk of intestinal worms.

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1. From the environment

Risk of: Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms

Roundworm and whipworm eggs are deposited in the soil from the droppings of infected animals. Though whipworms only affect dogs, both of these parasites are common in your pet’s environment. These eggs can survive in the soil for long periods of time and in harsh environmental conditions. If pets accidentally eat these eggs – by sniffing or licking the ground, or by eating dirt or grass – they can become infected.

Your pet can contract hookworms by accidentally ingesting hookworm larvae found in the soil. They can also get hookworms through close skin contact with larvae left in soil or sand – the larvae, which are tiny living worms, can burrow into the skin on their feet.

People can inadvertently bring worms into their home on their shoes. If you have stepped on soil or vegetation that is harboring roundworm eggs, whipworm eggs or hookworm larvae, these parasites can be tracked into the home.

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2. From scavenging or hunting

Risk of: Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms

If your dog or cat has a tendency to hunt or scavenge, they could be at risk of contracting roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms by eating infected rodents and other wildlife. Insects, like roaches, and even earthworms can also harbor immature stages of worms that can be passed to your pet if eaten.

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3. From their mother’s milk

Risk of: Roundworms, hookworms

Puppies can contract roundworms and hookworms from their mothers, either before they are born (roundworms only) or via milk when nursing. Kittens can also contract roundworms through their mother’s milk when nursing.

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4. From grooming

Risk of: Tapeworms

If your dog or cat is suffering from a flea infestation, they are also at risk of picking up an intestinal worm. Fleas are common transmitters of tapeworms, and if your pet swallows infected fleas when grooming, they will develop tapeworms. Cats are especially at risk because they are such good groomers. Even if your cat does have fleas, you might not know it because they will have groomed (eaten) all of them off.

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5. From mosquitoes

Risk of: Heartworms

Mosquitoes carry heartworms that can infect cats and dogs. Mosquitoes often pick up baby heartworms, called microfilariae, from feeding on heartworm-positive animals, including foxes, coyotes and even pet dogs.

When they bite your pet dog or cat, they can transmit the heartworm infection on to them. This infection can cause serious illness in your pet, with symptoms ranging from a persistent cough to fatigue, weight loss and more.


Help keep your pet safe through prevention

Worms can be found in your pet’s environment throughout the year. Even if your dog or cat mainly stays indoors, rodents, worm eggs, fleas and mosquitos can occasionally find their way inside your home. Regularly treating your dog or cat with a heartworm prevention product that also treats intestinal worms each month or a broad-spectrum deworming product and testing them for parasites yearly can help them stay healthy.


Related Articles

How to Tell if Your Cat or Dog Has Worms
Intestinal Worms in Dogs
Intestinal Worms in Cats

Bayer Products

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    Quad Dewormer for Dogs

    Easy to use, broad-spectrum dewormer that is effective against tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms

    Quad Dewormer for Dogs

    Indicated for:

    WHIPWORM
    WHIPWORM
    TAPEWORM
    TAPEWORM
    HOOKWORM
    HOOKWORM
    ROUNDWORM
    ROUNDWORM

  • Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats

    Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats

    Easy and effective way to remove common tapeworms

    Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats

    Indicated for:

    TAPEWORMS
    TAPEWORMS

  • Advantage Multi® for Cats (imidacloprid + moxidectin) packaging

    Advantage Multi® for Cats (imidacloprid + moxidectin)

    An all-in-one monthly topical that prevents heartworm disease, kills adult fleas and treats roundworms and hookworms.

    Advantage Multi® for Cats (imidacloprid + moxidectin)

    Indicated for:

    FLEAS
    FLEAS
    EAR MITES
    EAR MITES
    ROUNDWORMS
    ROUNDWORMS
    HOOKWORMS
    HOOKWORMS
    HEARTWORMS
    HEARTWORMS

    CAUTION: Federal (U.S.A) law restricts Advantage Multi® for Cats (imidacloprid + moxidectin) to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Advantage Multi® for Cats (imidacloprid + moxidectin):
CAUTION: Federal (U.S.A.) law restricts Advantage Multi® for Cats (imidacloprid + moxidectin) to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. WARNINGS: Do not use on sick or debilitated cats or ferrets. Do not use on underweight cats. (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). Do not use on cats less than 9 weeks of age or less than 2 lbs body weight. PRECAUTIONS: Avoid oral ingestion. HUMAN WARNINGS: Children should not come in contact with the application site for 30 minutes after application.

Quad Dewormer Chewable Tablets for Dogs: Not for human use. Keep out of reach of children.

Tapeworm Dewormer for Cats: Not for human use. Keep out of reach of children.