Cats can suffer from a number of internal parasites, and tapeworms are actually one of the easier parasites to treat. Tapeworms are spread by fleas and may grow to 60 centimetres in the small intestine of a cat. Cats may display no symptoms of having the parasite, they may develop a coarse coat or they might have an increased appetite yet lose weight. They may experience diarrhoea or vomiting as well. Generally the treatment for tapeworm is a dewormer medication. Most medications have few if any side effects.
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Cestex, also known by the generic name Epsiprantel, is a common tapeworm treatment and is a single dose medication. Cestex works by disabling the worm's grip on the host's intestines and the tapeworm is destroyed during the digestion process. Cestex remains in the gastrointestinal tract. This medication must be administered by a veterinarian and is not recommended for kittens under the age of 7 weeks. Side effects of Cestex may include nausea, vomiting or trembling, but these are considered rare. Cestex is not known to interact with any other drugs.
Praziquantel is the active ingredient in deworming medications for tapeworms and it is used in a variety of combination medicines for treatment of more than one parasite. For instance, it is part of Drontal, a tablet used to treat heartworms and roundworms as well as tapeworms. It is also in Drontal Plus, Profender and Milbemax. In all these treatments, praziquantel is used for tapeworms. Praziquantel cannot be used on kittens less than one month old, and must be avoided if the cat has known allergies to related medications. Care should be taken if the medication is administered to a pregnant cat or to one in poor health. This medication should only be administered by a vet. Side effects are not typical but can include poor appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea. If given by injection, side effects may include stinging or pain and possible swelling at the injection site. Tablets have a bitter taste and can cause excessive drooling or salivation.
Never administer more medication than the veterinarian prescribes to prevent serious or allergic reactions in the cat. Tapeworm medications only require one dose due to the life cycle of the tapeworm. This parasite does not have external larvae to kill so subsequent doses are unnecessary.To prevent tapeworms from reoccurring, preventive medication is available. Also, protecting cats from fleas will protect them from tapeworms as well. In order to prevent tapeworms further, it is important not to feed cats undercooked or raw fish or meat.
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