Dogs and cats of all ages are susceptible to worms. Symptoms can be as severe as vomiting and diarrhoea or may just be a lack of coat condition or an itchy bottom! The main worms we treat for in the UK are roundworms (Toxocara) and tapeworms (Taenia) although we also recommend lungworm (Angiostrongylus) treatment in dogs. Roundworms can be zoonotic which means they can be passed to humans and although rare can cause serious health problems. The larvae migrate around the human body and can infect tissue of the eyes and nervous system leading to blindness and other complications. For this reason it is especially important regular worming is maintained if you have children in contact with your pets.
An adult roundworm can produce up to 20,000 eggs a day which are passed to pets through infected soil, faeces or through eating infected animals such as mice or birds. Tapeworms are picked up in the same way but are flatter than roundworms and can grow up to 5 metres long. Fleas often carry tapeworm eggs so if your pet has fleas there is a high likelihood it may have tapeworms too! Lungworms are carried by slugs and snails, the adult worms infect the pets heart and the blood vessels leading to the lungs. Infected dogs spread the parasite into the environment increasing the risk of transmission to other pets. Undiagnosed lungworm can be fatal so prevention is definitely better than cure! If your pet is on a raw food diet we would highly recommend a regular worming regime as raw meat can carry a worm infestation.
If your thinking of travelling abroad make sure you speak to your vet about suitable worming treatments for the species of worms in the country you are travelling too. Worming treatments are available in tablet or spot-on forms so your vet can find a product that suitable for you and your pet. Regular worming helps to reduce the amount of eggs in the environment and keep your pet looking and feeling great.