So what are the major types of worms that we need to be aware of?
Roundworms such as Toxocara live in the intestines of cats and dogs. Puppies and kittens are commonly infected with roundworms, ingesting roundworm larvae via their mother’s milk. In the small intestines, adult worms shed thousands of tiny eggs which pass out in the faeces and contaminate parks and gardens. The eggs become infective within a few weeks and pets can become re-infected by unwittingly eating the eggs; often whilst grooming. Additionally the eggs can pose a risk to humans and can be accidentally ingested from soil, food or from your pet’s coat.
Tapeworms also live in the intestines and shed small mobile segments that pass out in the faeces and are often found around the tail area of cats. As the segments break down they release eggs into the environment. These eggs may be eaten by intermediate hosts – including fleas and small rodents such as mice and voles. As a result, cats who are ‘mousers’ will commonly have tapeworms. Similarly, pets swallow fleas as they groom and so re-infect themselves with tapeworms.
Lungworm – as well as being a menace to your garden, slugs and snails can carry lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) and dogs can become infected if they eat slugs and snails. However, they can also become infected simply by licking or eating grass. They can be protected by regular use of a specific wormer licensed for lungworm prevention.
On-going prescription worming treatments for your pet, flea control, picking up of dog faeces, covering over sand-pits when not in use, thorough washing of fruit and veg and good hand hygiene will all help to keep you and your pets safe.
We advise discussing preventative health care with your vet – prevention is better than cure.
Disclaimer: Hillside Vets’ website is intended to be used only as a guide and information resource, not as an alternative to a veterinary consultation and advice. Nothing contained in this website should be construed as medical advice or diagnosis. For specific healthcare advice please discuss the particular symptoms and circumstances of your pet with your vet.