October 22, 2010
Intestinal worms in pets

Almost everyday in my practice, clients enquire about intestinal worms in dogs and cats. Some of the questions they ask are as follows:

Can the worms that affect my dogs and cats affect my family?{{more}}

Yes. Tape worms, hookworms and certain types of round worms can be transmitted from pets to humans. Some types of tapeworms are transmitted to humans via a flea that eats the egg of a tapeworm and then is accidentally ingested by a human, hence the need to ensure that your pets are kept free of fleas.

Take steps to prevent infestation by intestinal worms..

  • Have puppies and kittens dewormed at an early age.
  • Start or keep your pets on preventative deworming programmes that treat and control these worms.
  • Keep play areas, lawns, and gardens around your home free of animal waste.
  • Adequately dispose of pet faeces.
  • Keep your pets free of fleas.

What are Intestinal worms?

You may already have heard that worms often infect puppies and kittens as well as older pets. The most common types of these parasitic worms are tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms. They live and grow inside the intestines of your pet and develop from eggs into larvae. The larvae later mature into adult worms.

Signs of worm infestation may include vomiting, loss of appetite, or severe weight loss, varying degrees of anemia (pale mucus membranes), blood in the stool, diarrhea, rough hair coat. Heavy infections in young puppies and kittens may be fatal.

Hookworms have teeth-like structures or cutting plates which they use to attach themselves to the wall of the intestines and feed on the animal’s blood. The site of attachment in the intestines may continue to bleed even after the worm is detached, giving rise to bloody stool and bacterial infections.

How do pets get worms?

Dogs and cats of any age may become infested with intestinal worms, but they are most vulnerable when they are very young. In fact, it is not unusual for puppies of only 2-3 weeks of age to harbor significant number of worms. That is because these worms are often passed from mother to her puppies before birth in the uterus. These parasites lay eggs in the intestines of animal and they are passed out in the faeces either as eggs or larvae. These in turn may contaminate food and water and are ingested by other dogs, cats, kittens or puppies, thus infecting them. Contrary to popular belief that if you feed milk to your pets they will “get worms”. This, of course, is not factual.

These eggs could also be ingested by an intermediate host like a flea that when eaten by our pets of accidentally eaten by humans cause infestation.

Hookworms have the capacity to borough through mucus membranes to cause infestations.

How to deworm your pets.

Please note here that a deworming programme should be done on the advice of a Veterinarian. Quite often, I meet people who claim to have had their animals dewormed. On further investigation, I realize that often time the medications used are only effective for certain types of worms or the dose being used is inadequate. All dewormers are given according to the weight and not the age of the animal.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981