Protection Against Parasites: Worms

Parasites are living creatures that inhabit the skin or inside the bodies of other animals. This article will focus on just one type of parasites: worms.

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Types Of Parasitic Worms In Pets

There are many different parasitic worms that can affect our pets. Broadly, we can categorise parasitic worms into the following categories: Intestinal and non-intestinal worms. All parasitic worms have biological names, but for the purpose of this article the common names will be used.

Intestinal Worms

Intestinal worms are very common, these parasites mainly live in the gut of our pets. They start producing eggs ready to infect other animals when they are passed in faeces. There are many types of intestinal worms, the types that can infect our pets are: tapeworms, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms and pinworms.

Non-intestinal Worms

Non-intestinal worms are worms that prefer to live in other parts of the body, their names often suggest where they like to live, for example: lungworms like to live in the lungs of pets. Other worms include heartworms and eyeworms. These parasites can cause devastating damage to our pets’ bodies often due to the complex ways in which they travel around the body.

How Are Worms Transmitted?

The problem with many of the mentioned worms is that they often don’t cause any obvious signs of infection until severe damage has already happened. Despite this, they continue to produce eggs that are ready to infect other animals and people, therefore prevention is so important.

The route of transmission varies between parasites, the most common way in which animals become infected is through poo. However, some parasites can be transmitted in early development when in the womb or when suckling milk at a young age.

Preventing Parasitic Worms In Pets

Prevention of parasitic worms relies on a thorough risk assessment of which worms pose a risk to your pet. Some worms are so ubiquitous that they pose a risk to all pets, whilst others may only pose a risk to a smaller proportion of pets. For example, pets that free-roam may hunt other infected animals, therefore can
be at risk of tapeworm; some pets may travel overseas to areas of the world where other worms (e.g. heartworm) pose a risk.

Prevention relies on our pets having the appropriate product on board as well as environmental management to further reduce the risk to our pets and people. Poop-picking and hand-washing are essential ways in which we can also reduce the risk.

It is important to know what products will offer protection; very few products will provide protection against all the mentioned parasites. Some products can be harmful to certain breeds and pregnant animals if used inappropriately. Therefore, it is important to speak to your vet or vet nurse to find out which product you will need for your pet.

It is also important that the preventative product is used frequently, how frequently will depend on your pet’s individual lifestyle and age. Regimes are also in place for travelling pets and pregnant animals.

The vets and nurses at Scarsdale Vets are here to help you and your pets stay protected against parasites. We are able to recommend the products that will best suit you and your pet’s individual needs. We also have our own laboratory at Pride Veterinary Centre where we can conduct a range of tests on your pet’s faeces when your vet feels this is appropriate to do so.

Worm Facts

Did You Know?

  • 1 worm can produce 100,000 eggs per day
  • Tapeworms can be transmitted by flea eggs
  • Dog and cat roundworms can migrate to the human eye to cause blindness
  • Some eggs can remain viable in the environment for years
  • The longest tapeworm recorded reached a staggering 33 meters!
  • Worms can affect all species, including rabbits

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