Worms are a worry. Regular worming is essential (every 3 months) to protect your dog or cat against worms, and to protect your family. People can also be infected by worms, by accidentally swallowing the worm eggs that are passed in dog and cat droppings. Children are most at risk because of the close contact with their pets.
Recommended Worming Regime
Puppies and Kittens:
Every 2 weeks from 6 weeks to 12 weeks until age, then
Every month from 3 months until 6 months of age, then
Every 3 months for life
Worming treatments do not prevent worms, they only kill worms. Your pet will constantly reinfect themselves when they are out and about, so it’s important to worm regularly to protect your pet and your family.
The products we recommend are Drontal and Milbemax as they have a proven record of killing ALL the intestinal worms.
If you have a hard to medicate cat, Profender is an alternative and is applied to the skin. However we are happy to administer tablets every 3 months for you if you come in and visit us.
Note: Some monthly flea/worm products control roundworm and hookworm, but they do not treat tapeworm. Regular tapeworm tablets are still required every 3 months. If your cat hunts geckos and lizards they may also contract Zipperworm (Spirometra erinacei) and will need a much higher dose of tapewormers than found in regular wormers.
Other tips on worm prevention
Children (and adults) must wash their hands after playing with their pet
Wash your hands after playing and working in your yard
Avoid dogs and cats licking you and your family about the face
Remove droppings from your yard and litter trays
Clean kennels and sleeping areas regularly
Concrete runs are best
Worm any other pets in the household as well
Control fleas on your pets
Don’t feed your dog or cat raw meat and sheep offal
Hookworms are the most destructive of the intestinal worms because they burrow into the pet’s intestinal wall and suck blood. Signs include soft tar-like faeces, diarrhoea (usually with blood staining), dehydration, pale gums (anaemia), weakness and death if puppies or kittens are infected with large numbers of worms. Hookworms are quite small so it is not common to see hookworms in the animal’s droppings after proper treatment.
Infection can take place by eating worm eggs from the ground, larvae present in the environment can penetrate the skin of the abdomen or feet, or larvae can pass out in the mother’s milk to suckling puppies and kittens. The cycle from adult worms laying eggs, the eggs hatching into infective larvae and maturing into new adult worms takes only 2 – 3 weeks.
Hookworm larvae can also penetrate the skin of humans, causing intense itching. Always wear gloves when cleaning up after your dog or cat.
Roundworms are the most common of the intestinal worms and are long (up to 18cm), white and cylindrical, and can be easily seen in droppings. Unborn puppies and kittens are usually infected with roundworm larvae via the mother’s placenta and will have adult worms in their intestines within 2 weeks of birth. Infection can also occur by eating infected rodents, droppings of other pets and contaminated soil. Roundworm eggs are quite sticky and attach to fur, feeding bowls and bedding and, unless you worm your dog or cat regularly, constant reinfection will occur.
Signs of infection include ill thrift, a ‘pot-belly’ appearance, diarrhoea, vomiting (sometimes including whole worms) and coughing. Heavy infections can cause death, especially in puppies, due to intestinal obstruction.
Roundworm larvae can also infect people, especially children, by accidentally swallowing infective eggs that get on their hands after playing with the dog or from the soil. Once infected migrating larvae can cause damage to the liver, eyes and nervous system of humans. This disease is called Visceral Larva Migrans (VLM).
Whipworm infection occurs when a pet eats whipworm eggs. After the eggs hatch the larvae move to the lower bowel where the mature worms can survive for up to a year. These mature worms produce eggs that are passed in the dogs droppings and are able to survive in the soil for a long time making reinfection common, especially in dogs confined to small outdoor yards.
Symptoms are mostly chronic, including weight loss, abdominal pain and intermittent diarrhoea (occasionally with fresh blood).
The tapeworm Dipylidium caninum is the most common of the tapeworms and is spread by fleas, an intermediate host. Part of the tapeworm’s lifecycle develops in fleas and when a dog or cat eats an infected flea (mostly during grooming) the tapeworm develops in the animal’s intestine.
Infection is not usually serious and people are rarely infected. The most common sign is your dog ‘scooting’ or dragging its bottom along the ground due to irritation of tapeworm segments emerging from the anus. The segments look like rice grains and can be easily seen wriggling around the pets bottom or on it’s fur.
The hydatid tapeworm, Echinococcus granulosus, is a serious risk to human health, especially in country areas.
An intermediate host is required for the lifecycle of the worm to be completed. These are grazing animals, such as sheep, cows or kangaroos, and they pick up worm eggs from dog droppings in the pasture, which then form cysts in their body organs (such as the lungs and liver). Dogs are infected by eating raw meat and offal (body organs) infected with cysts but suffer no ill effects.
People, also an intermediate host like sheep and cows, become infected by swallowing eggs found in dog faeces. After the eggs hatch the larvae pass through the body forming cysts in organs such as the liver, lungs, brain and kidneys and can be fatal.