A bit about worms
Most worms that infect dogs and cats make their way to the intestines. They feed on the digesting food that is found in the gut or attach to the gut wall and feed on the animals blood supply.
There are many different types of intestinal worms in dogs and cats:
These worms come in all shapes and sizes. To determine the exact nature of the intestinal parasite affecting your pet, a fecal analysis may be recommended.
How do dogs and cats become infected?
It is fairly common for a dog or cat to become infected with internal parasites at some point in its lifetime. A dog or cat can acquire various parasites in many different ways:
- >The fetus can be infected by larvae passing through the placenta of the mother;
- >Young puppies and kittens can be infected by larvae transferred in the mother’s milk;
- By ingesting parasite eggs from the environment for example, other animals feces, catching and eating small rodents and birds, or by ingesting fleas while grooming;
- Some parasites, like hookworms, can penetrate a dog or cats skin.
Can humans become infected with dog or cat parasites? How?
Some of the worms can be passed on to people. This is referred to as zoonosis.
The risk of infection is higher in children due to the amount of time spent outdoors where dogs and cats defecate. Young children are also more likely to put their dirty hands in their mouths after playing in dirt, grass or sand that might be contaminated. Accidental ingestion of microscopic stages of certain parasites in pets stool can result in human infection. Pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals are also at greater risk.
Larvae of some parasites can migrate through the human body and lodge in the eye, brain, or in other areas which can, in rare cases, cause blindness or other severe health problems.
How can I protect my pet and family against intestinal parasites?
Although completely preventing parasite infection appears to be almost impossible, a regular deworming program combined with good hygiene practices can significantly reduce the risk.
How do I reduce the risk?
- Remove pet stools from your yard daily is best, 2-3 times a week minimum.
- Clean cat litter boxes daily.
- Keep children away from areas where pet stools are found. Do not allow children to be barefoot or have exposed skin in playgrounds and beaches contaminated by pet feces.
- Keep sandboxes covered when not in use.
- Keep pets flea-free
- While walking your pet, always clean up any stool immediately.
- ALWAYS wash hands thoroughly after cleaning up feces.
The exact degree of risk to your dog or cat depends on certain lifestyle factors. Here are some examples of behavior that may increase the risk of infection:
- Hunting or eating raw meat (e.g. birds or mice, etc)
- Dogs that frequent dog parks
- Dogs or cats with compromised immune systems (e.g. chronic disease)
How will I know my pet is Infected?
Many pets with low levels of infection have little or no observable signs. Evidence of some types of intestinal worm infections, such as tapeworms, can sometimes be seen in the stool or on the fur around the anus. However, the majority of intestinal parasite eggs and larvae cannot be seen with the naked eye. Infection of internal parasites can result in poor body condition, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and in more severe cases complications such as anemia, liver disease, kidney disease, or neurological disorders can result.
6 Reasons Why Your Pet Should Be on Year Round Parasite Prevention
- 17% of children in a Halifax study were tested positive for roundworms.
- Roundworm and whipworm eggs have been shown to survive winter months at a much lower temperature than were originally thought possible
- 2 fleas, 2 days, 200 eggs, 2 months, 2000 fleas.
- A dog infected with intestinal roundworms will often defecate more than 20,000 eggs/day, and as hard as we work to keep our yards clean, the egg remains behind.
- The Companion Animal Parasite Council and the American Heartworm Society advocate for year round parasite prevention. These expert groups advise that 12 months of prevention has been proven to best protect your pets and your family from the risk of the most common parasites.
6. 12 months of parasite prevention is a key component of a lifelong wellness approach to veterinary care, just as important as annual exams and appropriate vaccinations
Here at our Veterinary Centre we recommend that pets with an active/ social lifestyle or pets that may travel with their families or go to group activities should be dewormed with HeartGard® once a month.
Along with using HeartGard® monthly to protect your dog against round worms, hook worms and heart worms, a broad spectrum dewormer called Drontal Plus® should be given bi-annually to kill tape worms. Some less active/ social pets may only be on a 3-4 month deworming schedule with Drontal Plus®.
Our feline patients may also be on a special monthly schedule using Profender® or a bi-annual schedule using Profender® or Milbemax® as treatment to kill tape worms and round worms.
Please contact us for more information on how to start your pet’s deworming program.