Internal parasites can wreak havoc on your domestic pets' bodies. Parasites can be transmitted between cats, dogs and other animals when your pet comes into contact with, and ingests, parasites from an infected animal. Because it is so easy for an animal to transmit parasites, they are a problem that can always return unless you stay on top of your pets' intestinal health.
Tapeworms get their name because they are long, flat and generally look like a strand of ribbon or tape when you see them. Tapeworms can grow to be several inches long. Tapeworms survive by anchoring themselves to the walls of your pet's small intestines. Tapeworms are very common in cats but also occur in dogs. Tapeworms are most often spread by fleas. Fleas consume the eggs of tapeworms and then spread tapeworms when the fleas themselves are eaten by your dog or cat. Your pets can also get tapeworms from eating small prey animals, such as rabbits, who have tapeworms.
Hookworms get their name because they hook themselves onto the walls of your pet's intestines and feed on the blood. Hookworms can cause the intestines to bleed, leading to conditions such as anemia. Cats and dogs can get hookworms by coming into contact with ground where other animals have passed hookworm eggs out of their own bodies. Your pets can also get hookworms before they are weaned if their mother has hookworms.
A wide assortment of different types of worms are classified as "roundworms." Roundworms can be found in dogs, cats, humans, pigs and many other mammals. Roundworms can be ingested off the ground, by consuming prey that was infected with roundworms or transmitted through the milk of a mother dog or cat. Roundworms survive inside your pet by consuming the partially digested food that is located in your pet's intestines.
Whipworms get their name from their appearance; they have short, fat bodies and long necks that look like a whip and whip handle. Whipworms feed by burying their necks and heads into the intestine wall, causing bleeding. Whipworms are commonly spread when an animal consumes the eggs that were shed by infected dogs or cats.
Dogs and cats can both get heartworms, though the condition is more common for dogs. Heartworms are parasites that live inside the heart and eventually cause heart problems, killing the infected animal. Heartworms are spread when a mosquito bites an infected animal and then bites an uninfected animal.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.