It’s easy not to think too much about the worms our furry friends might be carrying around… they’re usually out if sight, living in your pet’s intestines as adults or traveling around their insides as migrating larvae.
There’s roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm and lungworm. Each type of wormy parasite has a unique lifecycle and set of problems they can create for their hosts. Health effects on hosts range from no visible signs/ apparently healthy, through to itchy bottoms and poor condition, to life threatening illness like severe gastrointestinal diarrhoea, anaemia or gut impaction.
Worms can also spend a lot of their lifecycle as eggs in the environment… canine whipworm eggs can even live for up to 5 years in the soil! So protection relies on routine treatment as the threat of re-infection from the environment is always present.
Pups and kittens, too young to build any innate tolerance against worms, generally suffer from infections more than adults, and are very often born with worms – infected from their mother while still in the womb or passed through her milk. This is why young animals require more frequent treatment than adults.
That said, many untreated adult pets have low adult worm burdens that are continually shedding microscopic eggs into the environment, which in turn infect other animals, and some can cause serious illness in other pets and even humans. Children who are often closest to family pets, and love to cuddle and kiss and be licked on the face by their pets, are most at risk from developing a condition that can cause blindness, ‘ocular larval migrans’. Unfortunately, worm eggs and larvae can be swallowed in the process of just being friendly. Another good reason for taking proactive action and worming your pet regularly.
As most people don’t actually see the worms that their pets carry, for their sake and yours, please discuss your pet’s individual lifestyle and worming needs with your vet. Don’t wait until you’ve had the unpleasant experience of seeing a wiggling white tapeworm segment on your cat’s rear end! Trust us, this is the last thing you want to glimpse if you have guests around for dinner and your beautiful cat is rubbing up against their legs… the horror!
Tips to keep worms away
- Make a worming treatment plan for your pets and follow it year round
- Clean kennels and sleeping areas regularly. Remove faeces from the environment and cat litter trays. They poop – you scoop!
- Cover play-area sandpits so pets don’t use them as a toilet.
- As Flea Tapeworm larvae develops inside fleas, control fleas on your pets all year round.
- Avoid feeding untreated raw meat or offal. Feed a good quality wet or dry diet.
- Prevent pets from eating the intermediate hosts of worms for example slugs, rodents and birds. Controlling rats and mice can help too.
- Wash your hands after playing with your pet and avoid pets licking your face.
Tips to make worming treatment easier
- Weigh your pet before treatment and give the correct dose for their current weight.
- Treat all cats and dogs in the household.
- Time between treatments depends on product used, age and lifestyle factors of each pet. Always read the treatment instructions in the pack.