There are two types of worm your pet can get: Instentinal worms and Non-Instentinal. Instentinal worms are exactly that, worms that live in your pet's instentines, feeding on their gut content and are the most common. Non-instentinal worms are much less common and live in other areas such as the chest.
A large percentage of puppies and kittens are born with microscopically small roundworm in their tissues. The larvae is introduced to the developing pup or kitten right in the mother's uterus via migration through the mother's tissues.
Roundworm larvae can also be transferred to the nursing pup or kitten from the mother's milk. The larvae make their way to the intestinal tract where they can grow up to five inches in length. They start shedding eggs and try desperately to keep house in the small intestine of its host.
The eggs that the adult worms pass in the stool can now reinfest the animal or other dogs and cats if somehow the egg-bearing stool is eaten. When the worm eggs hatch, larvae are released internally to migrate to the animal's lungs where the larvae are coughed up, swallowed, and finally grow up to adults in the small intestine.
Puppies and kittens with active roundworms in the intestines often have a pot-bellied appearance and poor growth. The worms may be seen in vomit or stool. If not treated in time, a severe infestation can cause death by intestinal blockage.
Roundworms don't just affect young pups or kittens, though. They can infest adult dogs and cats, too. However, as mentioned above, the larvae can encyst in body tissue of adult dogs and cats, remain dormant for periods of time and can activate during the last stages of pregnancy to infest the puppies and kittens.
Worming the mother has no effect on the encysted larvae in the body tissues and cannot prevent the worms from infecting the newborn. Almost all wormers work only on the adult parasites in the intestinal tract.
The tapeworm is transmitted to dogs and cats that ingest fleas or hunt and eat wildlife or rodents infested with tapeworms or fleas. If you were to see an entire tapeworm, you would notice that they are arranged with a small head at one end and many tiny brick-like repeating segments making up the rest of the worm.
Tapeworms can reach four to six inches in length within the intestine. Each tapeworm may have as many as 90 segments, though it is the last segments in the chain that are released from the worm that can be seen in the stool or attached to the pets tail.
Many cases are diagnosed simply by seeing these tiny terminal segments attached to the pet's fur around the anus or under the tail; they even move around a bit shortly after they are passed and before they dry up and look like little grains of rice or confetti. It's also these segments of the tapeworm which contain the eggs.
Tapeworms cannot be killed by the typical generic, over-the-counter pet shop wormers. So don't waste your time and money on non-prescription medication, see a veterinarian for a treatment that actually works.
These are much more common in dogs than in cats. They are very small, thin worms that fasten to the wall of the small intestine and suck blood. Dogs get hookworms from larval migration in the uterus from contact with the larvae in stool-contaminated soil or from ingesting the eggs after birth. As with roundworms, the hookworm larvae can also be transferred to the nursing pup from the mother's milk.
A severe hookworm infestation can kill puppies, often making them severely anaemic from the loss of blood to the hookworms' vampire-like activities. Chronic hookworm infestation is a common cause of illness in older dogs, often demonstrated as poor stamina, feed efficiency and weight maintenance. Other signs include bloody diarrhea, weight loss, anaemia, and progressive weakness. Diagnosis is made by examining the feces for eggs under a microscope.
This parasite is more often seen in dogs than cats. Adult whipworms, although seldom seen in the stool, look like tiny pieces of thread, with one end enlarged. They live in the cecum, the first section of the dog's large intestine. Infestations are usually difficult to prove since the whipworms shed comparatively few eggs. So an examination of even several stool samples may not reveal the presence of whipworms.
If a dog is presented with chronic weight loss and passes stool that seems to have a covering of mucous (especially the last portion of stool the dog passes) and lives in a kennel situation or an area where whipworms are prevalent, the veterinarian may prescribe a whipworm medication based upon circumstantial evidence.
Although they seldom cause a dog's death, whipworms are a real nuisance for the dog and can be a problem for the veterinarian to diagnose.
The lungworm parasite is carried by slugs and snails. The problem arises when dogs purposefully or accidentally eat these common garden pests when rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or pick them up from their toys.
Foxes can also become infected with the lungworm and have been implicated in the spread of the parasite across the country.
This is spread by mosquitoes and causes coughing, appetite loss and, in its advanced stages, even death. The risk of heartworm varies worldwide and is in Europe currently limited to Southern and Eastern European countries. Check with your vet before travelling with your dog.
How to control worms in your pet
The recommended worming protocol for puppies and kittens is every two weeks untill they are 12 weeks old, then monthly untill they are six months old. This can then be dropped to every three months after this.
For more information on which worming treatments we sell or to purchase some medication, please contact the surgery.