The thought of any pet in your home having a parasite is a bit unsettling. This can be especially true when it comes to cats. If you’re a cat owner, you know the curiosity of cats and how they have a knack for investigating the entire house each day. This means there are lots of surfaces your kitty comes in contact with while they are carrying these unwanted worms.
Luckily, for pet owners, there are several deworming medications available over the counter or from your veterinarian. What happens, however, when you have both a cat and a dog that has worms? Can you use dog dewormer on your cat? The answer to this question is no. While it may be inconvenient to purchase separate dewormers for each pet in your home, your kitty needs its own deworming medication. Let’s dive further into the reasons behind this and learn more about these pesky parasites that often plague our kitties.
Discovering Your Cat Has Worms
The thought of your cat having worms may make you a bit squeamish, but it’s more common than you think. Cats can contract worms in various ways. If they go outside, they may come into contact with the feces of another animal that is infected. Cats are also hunters. If your kitty enjoys a good case of cat and mouse, literally, they may catch or eat another animal, such as a mouse or bird, that is carrying parasites. A dog with worms can pass them on to cats. Kitties can even get worms from having fleas and grooming themselves. With so many potential ways cats can pick up worms, it should become a normal part of being a cat parent to watch for signs of these pesky parasites.
Lots of intestinal parasites can be discovered by a kitty owner. The worm itself, eggs, or even parts of the worm may appear in your cat’s feces. There are also tests veterinarians can do to help determine whether your cat has worms. This often takes place during routine exams of young cats or if a cat is showing signs like frequent vomiting, tarry stools, loss of appetite. When your veterinarian is the one who discovers your cat has worms, they will determine which type of worm your cat has, treat your kitty, and make your life much easier. There are over-the-counter treatments you can grab at your local pet supply store to help rid your kitty of this discomfort, however, they are often not as effective as those prescribed by your veterinarian.
Can I Use Dog Dewormer on My Cat?
It’s common for a cat owner to also have dogs in their home. If this is your situation, you may already have dog dewormer on hand or you may notice that your local pet supply store doesn’t have cat dewormer but has a steady supply of dog dewormer. In these situations, it’s understandable that you’d be curious as to whether dog dewormer is safe for your cat to use. Unfortunately, for the health and safety of your cat, you should never use dog dewormer to treat your kitty.
Cats and dogs are entirely different species. This means each one is susceptible to different types of parasites. A dewormer that works for dogs may not treat a particular parasite your cat has. Dosage amounts are also different. A dewormer intended for a dog could be more potent than what is recommended for a cat. This can lead to overdoses. The medication used to treat parasites in dogs could also be toxic for cats since they are different species and require different treatments. Using a dog dewormer on your cat can lead to your cat experiencing lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or anorexia. It can even kill your cat, so in short, simply don’t use a dog dewormer on a cat.
What Should I Do If My Cat Has Worms?
If you’ve seen signs of intestinal parasites in your kitty, the best treatment is to take them to the veterinarian. With so many types of parasites being possible, including roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, being tested at the vet’s office is best for your kitty. This will pinpoint the type of parasite they have and allow your veterinarian to treat them with the specific medications intended to eliminate those worms. Your veterinarian will give the medication which can be in pill, liquid, or topical form. They will also go over how often treatment should be administered with you and give you tips on how to keep your cat healthy as they recover from the infestation.
We understand that a trip to the veterinarian isn’t always in the cards for every cat owner. In these situations, it is best to purchase a dewormer that is specifically made for cats. This will reduce the risk of overdose and toxicity while offering treatment that is targeted for parasites cats often contract. You may find when you’re at the pet supply store to purchase dewormer that a few brands claim to be effective for both cats and dogs. While yes, this is economically more affordable if you have both animals in the home, it may not be as good as you would expect. As we’ve already mentioned, dogs and cats can contract different types of parasites. The likelihood of this type of medication working for both species is low. Instead, do what’s best for your cat and purchase a dewormer made for their needs.
Knowing your cat has worms is upsetting, but it’s not the end of the world. Instead of panicking, be a responsible pet owner who acts quickly to rid your cat of these parasites and get their health back in order. If you decide to treat the parasites yourself, make sure you purchase a dewormer that is designed for cats. This will not only treat their parasites but will avoid issues like overdose or toxicity. For those that are still unsure of what dewormer to use, simply take your cat to see their veterinarian. Your vet will explain the situation, determine the parasites you’re dealing with, and provide your cat with the treatment they need to be happy and healthy again.
Featured Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock