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dog smelling a cat

Worms in dogs and cats are among our pets' most common ailments. They can pick up these and other external parasites in a wide range of settings: from food, their litter, the parc, and while travelling.

If you suspect your pet might have a parasite, the only way to keep your pet safe is to schedule care with your veterinarian. There are 2 big families of parasites your pet can get: internal and external, here is the break downs of the most common species within each familiy:


Various worms can infect your pet's intestinal tract and other organs—with varying severity and symptoms. The risk for internal parasites is high in animal shelters, so if you've recently adopted a dog or cat, get them tested for pet worms immediately. Roundworms, the most common internal parasite, are, as their name hints at, round-shaped worms . They grow to several inches in length and swim around freely in the intestine. They are often transmitted to puppies and kittens from their mothers, but your pets can get them in other ways since they spread quickly. Tapeworms and hookworms attach themselves to your pet's intestinal wall. You can spot tapeworm segments in the feces of your dog or cat. There are few signs of hookworm infection, so hookworm treatment is imperative for puppies and kittens. One of the most dangerous internal parasites in dogs is heartworm. Cats can harbour heartworms, though it's far rarer. Your pet catches this worm via a mosquito bite. The worm then attaches to the heart and lungs. Early intervention is essential to preserve your pet's health.


Pet parasites can also cling onto the body of your dog or cat or infect their skin. Ticks can cause severe illnesses in your pet, including paralysis. Always check your dog for ticks whenever you come back from a walk. If your cat is indoor-outdoor (or outdoor-only), check them over at regular intervals. Pet vaccination is essential. Remember, too, that each area of Canada has slightly different parasite risks. For example, tick season here runs from April to November (watch out for Black Legged and American Dog ticks). Be alert for signs of fleas when combing or brushing your pet. They're easiest to spot in thinly-haired areas. While fleas may cause a rash on your pet's skin, so too can scabies (also known as mange)—another virulent pet parasite. Scabies mites burrow into the skin, resulting in itching and hair loss. Another mite to watch out for is the ear mite. These microscopic pests live and feed in your cat or dog's ear canal. Infected pets typically scratch their ears and shake their head often. You may also notice tiny dark specks in their fur, which are the mite's feces.


Internal and external parasites can seriously affect your pet's health, even if your cat is an indoor-only pet. It's important to schedule regular checkups, vaccinations, and parasite control with your vet—and be on guard for signs of infection. Whether it's a pet's first visit or you want a heartworm test in Toronto, Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital has you covered. Our experienced team can take care of all your pet's medical needs, from kitten vaccination in Toronto to preventative care like tick and flea treatment. Book an appointment for your furry family member today.

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