Taking care of your furry friends involves more than feeding and grooming. In order to protect them from common diseases and intestinal parasites, you’ll need to have them vaccinated and dewormed at regular intervals.
That’s why it is important that all pet owners are familiar with the following information. Learn more about what parasites could affect your dog or cat, as well as suggested deworming and vaccination schedules by reading below.
While parasites are usually not fatal to your dog or cat, they can cause problems with fur, anemia, and even intestinal blockage in extreme cases.
Intestinal parasites in young puppies and kittens are pretty common. Both the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend you create and maintain a regular schedule for deworming your animals.
What Parasites Are Affected by Deworming?
Deworming affects a variety of intestinal parasites. The most common include:
When dogs and cats eat fleas, they’re likely to become infected with tapeworm. These worms grow to four or five inches in length, and can have up to 90 small segments. It’s pretty easy to diagnose these yourself. Segments tend to get stuck in fur around the anus. Worms in the stool may continue to move shortly after being expelled.
Over-the-counter remedies are typically ineffective against tapeworms, so be sure to go to your vet for treatment.
These worms grow up to five inches and are many times transferred to puppies and kittens before birth. Nursing mothers can also transfer eggs in their milk.
Roundworm eggs are protected by a hard shell that allows them to survive for up to a year outside the body. In addition to affecting newborn animals, roundworm larvae can remain dormant until late stages of pregnancy and then infect the puppies and kittens before birth.
Because these larvae are not in the intestinal tract, deworming won’t remove them from the mother or prevent infection of newborns.
Adults are infected by exposure to eggs in feces of infected animals.
These worms are more common in dogs than cats, and present a real challenge when it comes to diagnosis. Since they don’t shed many eggs, it can be hard to know an animal is infected. Vets oftentimes prescribe medication if they suspect infection, since there’s no way to be sure.
Another parasite more commonly found in dogs is the hookworm. Unlike other worms, a severe hookworm infection can kill a young puppy.
Hookworms live on the wall of the small intestine and suck blood. They are transmitted in the usual way: before birth, in mother’s milk, or through infected stool.
The following suggested schedule will help you keep your dogs and cats worm-free.
Kittens and Puppies:
- Two weeks
- Four weeks
- Six weeks
- Eight weeks
- Twelve weeks
- Sixteen weeks
- Six months
- One Year
- For all dogs and cats: twice a year for life
- Inside cats: once a year
- Outdoor cats: up to three times a year
- Deworm immediately
- Repeat in two weeks
- Use one of the above schedules
Just like children need shots to protect them from serious diseases, your fur babies also need regular vaccinations to keep them from catching potentially fatal illnesses. Both cats and dogs have a recommended set of core vaccines, which are needed by all breeds. Additional vaccines are only necessary if your animal possesses certain risk factors.
Because cats and dogs differ in this area, we won’t go into detail about common ailments. The following schedules are recommended to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Core vaccines: Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Rabies (required by law), Measles, Canine Hepatitis and Parainfluenza
Optional: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordatella, Lyme disease
- 6-8 Weeks: Distemper, Measles, Parainfluenza
- 10-12 Weeks: DHPP (Distemper/Hepatitis/Parainfluenza/Parvovirus)
- 12-24 Weeks: Rabies
- 14-16 Weeks: DHPP
- 12-16 Months: Rabies and DHPP
- Yearly: DHPP
- Every 1-3 Years: Rabies (as required by law)
Core vaccines: Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Rabies
Optional: Feline Leukemia, Chlamydophila, Bordetella, Feline Infectious Peritonitis,Giardia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
- 6-7 Weeks: Feline Distemper, Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus
- 10 Weeks: Feline Distemper, Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus
- 12 Weeks: Rabies
- 13 Weeks: Feline Distemper, Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus
- 16 & 19 Weeks: Feline Distemper, Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus
Unlike dogs, cats do not require yearly shots, especially if you have an indoor cat. Rabies will need to be repeated as required by law, but consult your vet on how often other shots are needed.