Worms wiggle your way out of this one!
It makes you squirm just thinking about it! However, the fact of the matter is that throughout their lives, dogs and cats will come into contact with a number of different types of worms which can cause a range of diseases. Regular de-worming is the only way to prevent them from suffering from these parasites.
Roundworms and tapeworms inhabit your pet’s intestines, interfering with food absorption and may also be a cause of gut inflammation, weight loss and diarrhoea.
Roundworms are spaghetti like in appearance, living in the small intestines. Adult roundworms shed thousands of tiny eggs which pass out in the faeces and contaminate gardens, parks and walk-ways. Dogs and cats can become re-infected by inadvertently eating the eggs often whilst licking their paws and grooming.
Tapeworms also live in the intestines of dogs and cats and shed small mobile segments which pass out in the faeces and can also be found around the tail area. As the segments break down they release eggs into the environment. These eggs may be eaten by intermediate hosts these include fleas and small rodents. This is why cats that catch a lot of mice will commonly be infected by tapeworms. Similarly pets swallow fleas as they groom themselves, and in doing so, unwittingly re-infect themselves with tapeworms.
]Lungworm caused by Angiostrongylus vasorum, is a recent immigrant to the UK and Ireland and is becoming more widespread. It only infects dogs and can cause problems ranging from heart failure to blood loss in affected dogs. It is also spread by intermediate hosts in this case slugs and snails, so dogs that play with molluscs (an animal with a soft body and no bones) are particularly at risk.
However, worms can be controlled by following a few simple steps: worm your pets regularly with an effective wormer from your vet and use regular flea control. Try to prevent dogs eating slugs and snails and clear up any faeces at the time where possible.
Always seek advice from your vet if you think your pet has worms.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.