Worms in Pets

We all know that both dogs and cats can be infected with intestinal worms.  These worms live in the gut of our pets and can cause weight loss, poor coat condition, anemia, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Worms are more common in puppies and kittens than in adult dogs and cats and can cause malnutrition.  Some pets can be carrying small numbers of worms with no clinical signs, so lack of these signs does not necessarily mean that they are worm-free.  The most common intestinal worms are roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm.

What we may not know however, is that we humans can also be infected with worms from our pets- disgusting thought, isn’t it?  These creepy crawlies live in the intestines and lay eggs in there.  Dogs and cats that have intestinal worms shed worm eggs in their feces.  Poor hygiene, such as failure to wash hands properly before eating, can cause humans to ingest feces containing eggs, which hatch worms in the person’s intestines.  Public playgrounds and sandboxes are high risk areas, and children are particularly vulnerable.  Worms can cause weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea in people.  However, the two most alarming consequences of intestinal worm infestation in humans are:

  • Cutaneous Larva Migrans:  Worms leave the intestines and reach the skin, forming itchy tunnels under the skin.
  • Visceral Larva Migrans: Worms begin to migrate through organs such as the nervous system, lungs and eyes, causing damage and organ failure.

Thankfully, worms in pets are quite easily treated and controlled with regular medications.  Dogs and cats should be given an intestinal all-wormer and the recommended frequency of most products is three-monthly.  Puppies and kittens should be wormed more frequently.  There are also monthly products that combine intestinal wormers, heartworm prevention and flea prevention.  Finally of course, the importance of good hygiene cannot be emphasized enough!

Do you give your pet medication to prevent worms? What type? Tell us in the comments!

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