Why is it important to make sure your dogs and cats are treated for worm infestations?
Both dogs and cats can carry many different species of parasitic worms in different parts of their bodies. Some of these worms don’t do much harm, but others can cause serious disease in your pets, and in humans! This is why it is important to talk to our staff about regularly worming your pets; especially if you have young children.
Which worms can they get?
Lungworm is the most dangerous worm for dogs in the UK. Dogs can get infected by eating slugs and snails. They can also be infected if they eat grass that slugs and snails have left their slime trails on. In dogs it makes its way from the digestive tract in to the blood vessels near the lungs where it reproduces. A lungworm infection in a dog can cause signs such as coughing, abnormal bleeding, neurological disease, collapsing episodes and can even cause sudden death. Treatment and prevention of disease is by monthly treatment with specific types of worming medication. There are quite a few products available that cover against lungworm. We stock Milpro and Prinovox. The use of either of these medications monthly will cover against lungworm.
Round worms (Ascarids)
These worms can infect puppies before they are born as they are passed through the placenta. Kittens can be infected at a very young age, as they are passed through the milk of their mothers. This worm can cause many clinical signs in puppies and kittens including vomiting and diarrhoea, but can affect other organs. Adult pets can get infected by ingesting eggs from the environment, infected raw meat or eating wild rodents. In adult pets the clinical signs are not so obvious. The main problem with this worm is that it can cause serious disease in humans if we accidentally ingest the eggs or infected, under cooked meat.
Depending on your pet’s age and lifestyle, the frequency of treatment needed for this type of worm infection will differ.
The main tapeworms seen in the UK do not cause serious illness in dogs, cats or humans. Often the first thing noticed is that your pet is itchy around their bottom and you may see segments of worms in the faeces. One type of tapeworm (Dipylidium) is carried by fleas so it is important to regularly treat your pets against fleas to prevent this infection. Another type of tapeworm (Taenia species) can cause serious disease in many livestock species so it is important to clean up after your pets when walking on farm ground.
There are some types of tapeworm (Echinococcus species) that are currently only seen in other parts of Europe, but could get to the UK if pets that travel back from Europe bring it back with them. This worm is a major risk to human health. In humans it can cause fatal disease in the lungs and disease of the liver. To avoid infection in your pets you should avoid allowing your pets to have access to raw meat or offal and also try and stop them from eating wild rodents.
Heartworm is a parasite which is currently not seen in animals that have never left the UK. It is carried by mosquitoes. If animals are mildly infected there can be no clinical signs, if there are a lot of worms the disease can be fatal. This worm is most likely to affect your pet if you take them abroad, particularly to southern Europe between the times of April to October. In the Canary Islands it can be transmitted year round. There is no way to completely prevent your pet being bitten by a mosquito, but with preventative worming treatment you can kill the parasite before is causes disease. Dogs are more at risk than cats.
Hook worms and Whipworms
These worms are not common in the UK but can be seen.
What if I don’t want to use routine worm treatment?
An alternative to regular worming treatment would be to bring us in a faecal sample. We can send it away to laboratory to look for the presence of worms or eggs and can then prescribe the treatment necessary.
For dogs we recommend you bring us a sample every 1-3 months
In cat we recommend you bring is a sample every 3 months if they live outdoors and hunt, or every 6-12 months if they are indoor only and have no flea infections.
For best results you should collect a small sample every day for 3 days and bring it to us in one faecal sample pot.