As a feline owner, you are responsible for protecting and keeping your pet in their optimum health possible. However, certain microorganisms threaten your cat’s safety and well-being. Several parasites, such as hookworms, can latch themselves into your pet, making it a host. It can infect them with diseases that can jeopardize their health or, worse, cause their death.
To understand how they affect your cat, let us first define what a parasite is. A parasite is an organism that lives in another organism and takes nutrients at the expense of the said organism. In this article, a particular parasite, a hookworm, will be discussed and how it affects cats.
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What Is a Hookworm?
Hookworms are parasitic worms that enter the small intestine and cause digestive problems. They are named after their hook-like mouth shape used to anchor themselves into the lining of the cat’s intestines. There are two types of hookworms seen in cats. They are identified as Ancylostoma braziliense and Ancylostoma tubaeforme, with the latter being the more aggressive kind. Although it may seem dangerous, there are suitable and practical measures that you can employ, such as the Aristo spot on For Cats, available at Aristopet Pet care.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Hookworm Infection
Cat owners are expected to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of hookworm infection in their pets. Depending on the situation, a cat can manifest different signs and symptoms of hookworm infection; conversely, some may not. Lesions found on the sole of the feet and between the toes, where the hookworm entered the skin, are just the first sign of infection. Coughing is the result when hookworm larvae enter the lungs. Dark, tarry stool, diarrhea, and constipation are some of the other symptoms that may appear.
In addition, a cat with a hookworm will have a sickly appearance and a weak appetite, as well as anemia because of blood loss.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Hookworms are invisible to the naked eye. It is diagnosed by a procedure known as fecal flotation and is used to identify hookworm infection. A sample of the cat’s feces is put into a specific solution, causing the hookworm eggs to float to the surface and stick to a glass slide placed on top of the solution.
Some labs additionally look for hookworm antibodies, which are proteins specifically produced by cats with hookworm infection. It is still a test that uses your pet’s stool sample. This test is regarded as a more precise and reliable test.
Due to the hundreds of eggs produced daily with a distinct appearance, the eggs are easily detected using a microscope.
How Is a Hookworm Infection Treated?
Hookworm infections can usually be easily treated if detected early. Dewormers for feline hookworms are available over the counter, but make sure to follow the instructions on the label correctly. Going to your vet is still the safest way to treat your cat because they are equipped with the proper tools and recommend the best medication. It is also important to note that it takes two to four weeks from the onset of infection with this parasite until it becomes contagious to other cats.
Your cat will be given a deworming drug to treat the infection that will either eradicate or remove the worms. Occasionally, it is all that is required. Nutritional and iron supplements, on the other hand, could be a necessity. Treatment for kittens should begin at three to four weeks of age and be repeated every month after that.
A pregnant cat infested with hookworms should be treated two weeks after mating and continued therapy two to four weeks after giving birth to avoid the risk of infecting the kittens.
If worse comes to worst, when the cat is severely dehydrated, hospitalization may be necessary. Fluids will be given intravenously, and tests will be performed frequently to check that the heart and kidneys respond well to the fluid therapy.
How to Prevent Hookworm Infection in Cats
Bear in mind that prevention is and always will be better than cure. Cat owners should follow steps to keep their fur babies parasite-free. Being able to prevent it does not only help your cat; it could also save you from shedding a few dollars. Here are some tips to prevent hookworm infection in your cat:
- Between the ages of 3 and 9, kittens should be treated for hookworms every two weeks, followed by a monthly treatment.
- Keep your place clean
- Proper disposal of fecal materials.
- Have your cat remain in a safe and controlled environment
- Strengthen their immune system by giving your cats nutritious foods and vitamins.
- Follow a strict monthly check-up.
Our cats only deserve the best. Be on the lookout for any unusualities that your pet manifests and take immediate action to solve them. Hookworm infections are common and easily treatable by your veterinarian. Follow a strict protocol to avoid it from happening again.