All cats and dogs will get worms at some stage in their life and many will be re-infected unless they receive regular worming treatment.
There are many types of worms that can infect your pet, these include roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, whipworm and heartworm to name a few. However, in this blog we will deal with the most common.
All cats and dogs are at risk of getting infected with roundworms. Even indoor pets can catch them as eggs can be carried in on your shoes. Roundworms can grow up to 15 cm long and are white in colour. As their name suggests they are round and look like string or spaghetti. Normally, worms can be present in pups from approximately 2 weeks old and kittens from 6 weeks old. This is due to them becoming infected from their mother in the uterus and via their milk. Adult cats and dogs can become infected from contact with soil or grass that contains worm eggs, through scavenging, eating raw meat and eating faeces
Many adult cats and dogs could have worms and you wouldn’t know. However, some may develop symptoms, especially if they are puppies and kittens, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, a bloated/distended belly, lack of appetite and failure to gain weight.
An important thing to note with roundworm (especially dog roundworms), is they can infect humans especially children. The most serious complication of this is potential blindness caused by the worm larvae damaging the eye- a process called visceral larval migrans. Therefore, any dogs around young children must be regularly treated against roundworm. There is evidence that prescription spot on wormers are best as they provide continual protection against roundworm whereas roundworm tablets will kill any roundworms present but do not provide any ongoing protection.
Tapeworms are flattened intestinal worms that are fairly large and can grow up to 60cm long. They are made up of many small segments approximately 3-4mm long and each segment contains eggs. Cats and dogs get infected with tapeworms by eating a flea that has fed on tapeworm larvae. This usually happens when they are grooming. Once the flea is digested the tapeworm eggs hatch. Tapeworms attach to the wall of the intestine with hook like mouth parts and as they grow they shed segments which will appear on the animal’s faeces or around their anus.
As with roundworms, you may not even realise that your dog has tapeworm. They feed on the blood and nutrients of the animal, but no immediate symptoms or changes are present. Normally symptoms will appear over a longer period of time.
The most common symptoms of Tapeworm are small, rice looking particles in the faeces or around the anus, diarrhoea, poor fur and skin condition, weight loss, increased appetite, lethargy, bloated stomach (there could be many tapeworms present in the intestine) and persistent anal itching (you may see your dog “scooting” across the carpet or licking its anus to relieve the itching).
If you think your pet may have worms it’s important to take it to the vet to have it checked. There are some highly effective treatments which will kill worms. These are available as liquids, pastes, tablets or powder. However, not all the products are equally good and some work against certain types of worms and not others. Your vet will be able to advise on which product is best.
For more information on worms you can contact the clinic for advice. Alternatively, you can leave a question on our Facebook page and someone will get back to you. We also stock a range of worming products
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