As pet owners, we tend to ignore one area of pet care that is important to your pet’s general well being – deworming. From birth to old age, all animals (including humans) come into contact with parasites that can, if untreated, be the cause of health problems.
Common types of internal parasites which our pets are exposed to include: round worm (Toxocara), hook worm (Ancylostoma), whip worm (Trichuris vulpis) and tape worm. Additionally, in certain regions of South Africa, pet owners should also be aware of Spirocera lupi.
How are internal parasites transmitted to our pets?
Internal parasites can be transmitted to our pets through ingestion at the egg, larval and adult stages. Eggs can be found in water sources, dirt or sand, an animal’s stool and around their anal area. Fleas are actually hosts for tapeworm and it is quite common for animals with fleas to also have tapeworms. Rodents, birds and invertebrates also harbour parasites and if consumed can be passed to your pets.
What are the common symptoms that my pet has worms?
- Pot bellied appearance ( especially in young animals)
- Lethargy / listlessness
- Change in appetite
- Dull coat
- Scooting (rubbing bottom on ground)
- Worms found in stool
If you suspect your pet has worms, visit your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment of Internal Parasites
Luckily for pet owners, there are a number of treatment options to rid your pet of worms. Deworming should be done monthly for puppies & kittens from 2 weeks of age up until 6 months of age. This is because in puppies & kittens worms can be transferred while still in their mother’s womb.
For adult dogs and cats it is recommended to deworm every 4 -6 months. If your pet is regularly exposed to other animals e.g. going for walks in public parks, dog training or your cat is an avid hunter and regularly brings home its prey, it is recommended deworming is done more regularly.
It is important for pet owners to know that when deworming, many products administered are short acting and rid the animal of the adult and larval stages of the worm, leaving the eggs behind. It is important if your dog or cat have been exposed to worms or other pets with worms, they be re-treated again after 2 – 4 weeks.
Last but not least,
Some worms can be transmitted from pets to their human owners (zoonosis), so it is important to make sure the whole family is dewormed on a regular basis.
Dr Lara Framptom