The Importance of Deworming

A variety of worms can infect dogs, cats, and also people. Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common types of worms around.

Where do they get them from?

Worm eggs and larvae, which are too small to see, are picked up in many ways:

  • Puppies and kittens can be infected via the placenta before they are born, or from their mother’s milk
  • Licking the ground, drinking contaminated water, scavenging or hunting
  • Eating raw meat
  • Contact with another animal’s stool
  • Eating an infected flea!

Are worms really that bad?

A severe worm infestation may cause diarrhoea, vomiting, blood loss (which can result in anaemia), poor growth in puppies, or a pot-bellied appearance. Less common, but more severe consequences can be loss of vision, epilepsy or pneumonia. A large infection of some types of worm can cause a blockage in the intestines. Without intervention, some of these problems can be fatal.

Some of the worms that dogs and cats can be infected with, can be transmitted to people simply by coming into contact with garden soil. In humans, these worms can cause skin infections, eye problems including blindness, or organ failure.

How can I tell if my pet has worms?

You may see ‘spaghetti’ worms in a puppy with a heavy infestation of roundworms, or ‘grains of rice’ around the bottom of a cat with tapeworms. However, most infected pets do not often shed adult worms. Even when they do, some of the most dangerous worms are extremely small and are unlikely to be seen.

Worm eggs can sometimes be found in a pet’s stool by analysing it with a ‘faecal flotation test’ which we can do here at Alphen Vet. However, a more cost-effective solution is simply to regularly deworm your pets.

How can I protect my pet and myself?

Regular deworming (once every 3 months for pets, every six months for people) will prevent the problems caused by worms. Puppies and kittens, being more susceptible, should be dewormed monthly until 6 months of age. It is important to get a good quality, broad spectrum dewormer and give the right dose for the weight of your pet. We can help you with this. It is not possible to prevent infection, however early, pre-emptive treatment will prevent problems.

If you have spotted worms, or suspect an infection, then repeat the deworming treatment after two weeks. This way, developing larvae will be prevented from reaching the adult breeding stage.

Wash your hands after playing with your pets, and don’t allow them to lick your face. Worm infections can be reduced by regularly cleaning up pet’s toilet areas. Fence off vegetable gardens, and always wash vegetables thoroughly before use. Meats should be cooked to kill any tapeworm cysts that may be present – this applies to pets as well as people!