Is worming your pet a bit of a battle?
Does worming your pets seem like a constant battle? Unfortunately you can’t vaccinate against worms, so regular worming treatment is the only way to ensure your pets stay worm free.
So what are the major types of worms that we need to be aware of?
Roundworms such as Toxocara live in the intestines of cats and dogs. Puppies and kittens are commonly infected with roundworms, ingesting roundworm larvae via their mother’s milk. In the small intestines, adult worms shed thousands of tiny eggs which pass out in the faeces and contaminate parks and gardens. The eggs become infective within a few weeks and pets can become re-infected by unwittingly eating the eggs; often whilst grooming. Additionally the eggs can pose a risk to humans and can be accidentally ingested from soil, food or from your pet’s coat.
Tapeworms also live in the intestines and shed small mobile segments that pass out in the faeces and are often found around the tail area of cats. As the segments break down they release eggs into the environment. These eggs may be eaten by intermediate hosts including fleas and small rodents such as mice and voles. As a result, cats who are ‘mousers’ will commonly have tapeworms. Similarly, pets swallow fleas as they groom and so re-infect themselves with tapeworms.
Lungworm as well as being a menace to your garden, slugs and snails can carry lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) and dogs can become infected if they eat slugs and snails. However, they can also become infected simply by licking or eating grass. They can be protected by regular use of a specific wormer licensed for lungworm prevention.
On-going prescription worming treatments for your pet, flea control, picking up of dog faeces, covering over sand-pits when not in use, thorough washing of fruit and veg and good hand hygiene will all help to keep you and your pets safe.
We advise discussing preventative health care with your vet - prevention is better than cure.
Regular grooming of your pet also helps form a bond between you and ensures they are happier being examined around the eyes, ears, teeth and feet generally.
If you do have concerns about any of the above, you should speak to your vet.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.
Note from Dorset Dogs - tick hooking video available here