All animals will be affected by worms at some stage of their lives and many will be re-affected if not routinely treated. Treating worms is relatively simple and inexpensive.
Regular treatment of worms is strongly recommended as they can cause ill health in your pet and also some types of worm can be passed onto humans.
Types of worms
Roundworm – Long and white in colour with a string like appearance. Live in the intestine, lay thousands of eggs and are expelled in the faeces. The eggs can survive in the environment for months or sometimes years, where they then infect other animals. Some animals also catch roundworm by eating a rodent that is infected. They can also be passed to humans, particularly young children that play in soil or sand that contains eggs and are ingested.
Tapeworm – Are attached to and live in the intestine. They are white flat ribbons that break off in segments and are passed in the faeces and look like maggots/grains of rice. These segments contain thousands of eggs which can be passed to other animals through ingestion. Tapeworm is also carried by fleas that are accidentally ingested through grooming. They also live in the muscle and organs of rodents and so animals are infected if eaten.
Hookworm & Whipworm - Both attach to the small intestine where they suck the bloods from the tissues. They are thread like in appearance and their eggs can be difficult to spot in faeces. The eggs can migrate through a mother’s placenta and can be ingested via a mother’s milk or from the environment. They are rarely seen in the U.K being prevalent to areas of high humidity and so animals who go abroad may be more at risk. Cats are very rarely affected by hookworm or whipworm.
Lungworm – Live in the heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs. The eggs are passed in the faeces and so other animals may be infected through ingestion. The eggs are also carried by snails and slugs and so can be ingested if eaten. Symptoms of lungworm include coughing, tiring easily, nose bleeds & bleeding in the eye. If left untreated it can be fatal but if treated in time most dogs recover well. It is rarely seen in the U.K but common in other parts of Europe so dogs that travel abroad will be at higher risk.
Treatment for worms can be in tablet form or via a spot-on applied to the base of the neck. Pastes and powders are available for puppies and kittens. Most treatments are combination and so treat more than one type of worm in one dose. It is recommended to worm puppies and kitten every two weeks from 6-16weeks old. Adult animals should be wormed every 3 months, more often if they are prone to ingesting rodents such as hunting cats.