Cats and dogs are prone to picking up parasites such as worms, and they can also spread to people. Although your pet may not show any outward symptoms, worms can cause problems for pets and humans alike, so regular treatment is important.
Unfortunately no worming treatment offers long term immunity, so it's important to administer these regularly if you want to protect your pet, and your family. At Sandhole we recommend a monthly application of Advocate ( a flea and roundworm treatment) and quarterly worming with Milbemax (a broad spectrum wormer) to give full protection against worms and fleas.
Roundworm are found in the faeces of infected dogs and cats. Eggs are laid in the soil and studies have found that a shocking 67% of public playgrounds and 75% of sandpits are contaminated with roundworms and their eggs - urgh! You can see how it's easy to unwittingly ingest them from dirty hands or a dropped, but hastily retrieved, biscuit.
Once inside the body, roundworm larvae pass into the internal organs, affecting the muscles, eyes and central nervous system. A fever may develop and there can be internal damage to the lungs, liver and eyes. Puppies and kittens may exhibit weight loss, a ‘pot bellied’ look and even pneumonia, although adult hosts often show no signs at all.
Tapeworm can be picked up directly from the environment and are also spread by fleas. Rigorous flea control is therefore crucial, along with quarterly worming with Milbemax.
- Dipylidium - the most common species, spread by fleas
- Taenia - caught by dogs who scavenge or cats that hunt mice and other prey
- Echinococcus granulosus, or sheep tapeworm - caught by dogs but not cats
- Echinococcus multilocularis - found abroad so a risk to travelling pets
You won’t always be aware if your pet has a form of tapeworm, as there may not be any obvious symptoms. However, you may notice your pet spending more time than usual cleaning his / her bottom, since the egg-filled worm segments tend to irritate as they pass through. You may also find tiny segments (about the size of a grain of rice) in your pet's bedding.
Lungworm is an increasingly common parasite that affects only dogs - it is understood not to pose any health concerns for cats or humans. Lungworm is transmitted by slugs and snails, and thus if these are eaten by pets, the parasite can eventually enter the bloodstream, potentially proving fatal.
Lungworm affects the respiratory tract, gradually damaging the airways and causing any or all of the following:
- Persistent cough
- Breathing difficulties
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Bleeding from the nose, eye or more than usual from a minor cut or wound
- Anaemia (paleness around the eyes and gums)
- Tiring easily
Only vet-strength wormers are able to tackle the lungworm parasite, therefore if you are concerned that your pet may have picked up lungworm, please call us immediately - most dogs make a full recovery if they are treated quickly.