WORMS are parasites that live inside the body. There are many different types that can affect pets, with the most common type being roundworms and tapeworms. These most commonly affect dogs and cats.
How do worms affect dogs and cats?
Roundworms live in the small intestine. A mild infection can cause a pot belly in puppies and kittens as well as poor growth, a poor coat and diarrhoea. A heavier infection in young puppies can cause a fatal blockage of the intestines. In adult dogs and cats, a heavy infection can cause poor coat condition, vomiting and diarrhoea. Sometimes entire worms are vomited or passed in the faeces, which an owner might see. A heavy infection can also cause lung damage which, in turn, can cause coughing and difficulty breathing.
The cat roundworm (Toxocara cati) and the dog roundworm (Toxocara canis), can pose a serious danger to humans. Its eggs are found in the faeces and if a person touches the faeces and doesn’t wash their hands properly, the eggs can be ingested. Most at risk are children who have contact with family pets or who play in public areas where dogs have been. The larva, which develops inside the person, can cause blindness. Toxocara eggs can remain infectious in the ground for many years, which is why dog faeces must be disposed of responsibly, and dogs should be wormed regularly. Like roundworms, adult tapeworms also live in the small intestines. They shed tapeworm segments which crawl out of the bottom and onto the tail and surrounding area. An owner may see these-they look like grains of rice-and the dog/cat might excessively lick or groom the area. Cat owners need to follow precautions including the careful disposal of cat litter daily and washing hands afterwards.
Because worms can cross the trans-placental barrier in puppies means they can be born with worms if the mother has is infected. This is not the case in Kittens but they can be infected from the mother via the first milk.
Tapeworms rely on fleas to survive, so good flea control is an important part of prevention. The next pet advice article will deal with flea and tick control so keep an eye out for further information coming soon.
How can I stop my pet from getting worms?
Because roundworms can enter your pet’s body in many different ways, it is essential to keep their living area clean and if possible, prevent your dog and cat from eating wild animals that may carry roundworms.
To get rid of roundworms that are passed from the mother dog, puppies should be treated at two, four, six and eight weeks of age and then receive a preventive treatment monthly. Nursing mothers should be kept on monthly preventive and treated along with their puppies to decrease the risk of transmission.
Kittens should be treated for roundworms every two weeks between three and nine weeks of age and then receive a preventive treatment monthly. Nursing mothers (queens) should be kept on monthly preventive and treated along with their kittens. A monthly parasite control product effective against roundworms is recommended to treat potential new infections.
Parasite treatment is not one size fits all. Every animal is different. They have different levels of exposure, depending on factors like: environment, age, species and what owners wish to treat for. The best thing to do is discuss with your vet or nurse and figure out a treatment regime that suits your pet and life style.
Fix if for a Fiver
From August 8th-12th RAWR (Rural Animal Welfare Resources) with the kind participation of The Veterinary Clinic, Bantry is launching a pilot programme called ‘Fix it for a Fiver’, which facilitates the neutering of cats at a reduced rate as RAWR subsidises the balance. There is no appointment required but spaces are limited so please phone 027-53639 to confirm a space. There is one stipulation under the scheme and that is that the cat be ear tipped while under anaesthetic. This is perfectly safe and does not cause the cat any discomfort. While the minimum charge is €5 per animal people are invited to donate more towards the cost if they so wish. All cat owners are asked to please ensure the animal is transported in a secure container.
• Deirdre O’Brien works with RAWR – Rural Animal Welfare Resources – a grassroots animal welfare organisation run entirely by volunteers in West Cork. RAWR’s mission is to reduce companion animal births and increase human responsibility, and focuses on three main areas: Trap Neuter Return (TNR) in West Cork; neutering of companion animals; empowering the public with animal welfare information, support & resources. Contact 086 844 3244 or see www.rawr.ie.