As much as it is important to protect our beloved furry ones against bacteria and viruses with a yearly vaccination, protecting them from parasites is not just important for them but for you too…
Some parasites are found on the outside of animals and are called ectoparasites i.e. fleas, ticks, mites and some are found internally these are called endoparasites i.e. worms.
In this article, we are going to focus on worms.
What Are Worms?
Worms are classified as either tapeworms (taenia sp, ecchinococcus sp) or roundworms (mainly hookworms, whipworms, heartworms and lungworms). Infestation can cause a wide range of consequences to your pets, from some mild gastro-intestinal signs to serious illnesses involving the cardiorespiratory or nervous system, and can be life threatening.
How Are Worms Transmitted?
Worms can be transmitted from your pet to you and your family especially small children (this is known as a zoonotic disease). This is a risk as some animals won’t show any clinical signs of having a parasite but can still potentially be infectious.
Your pet can be infested in different ways. The most common being via transplacental (from mother to babies) route, ingesting the parasites from the environment (grass, water, raw food) or eating a host who is infested such as slugs and snails.
Worms exist and live in cycles: adults lay eggs that then hatch and develop into larvae (these larva can develop in several stages). In favourable conditions some of these larva can survive well in the environment and some even have the ability to pause their development if conditions are not right. The larva will the develop into adults and so the cycle begins again.
So What Can You Do To Prevent Worms?
The best answer would be to talk to a professional (your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse) as they can evaluate you and your pet’s needs depending on their lifestyle. There is not one worming protocol that suits all and we tailor worming to individual needs and risks.
On the market, you can find different products and formulations. Some are readily available in any supermarket or pet shop, others are only available from a veterinary practice.
Different active ingredients (this is what kills the worms) are used in different products and so these will target different worms. Products brought from a veterinary practice will be prescription medication that will have undergone studies to prove that they are effective and safe.
Administering Worming Treatments
There are several ways of administering worming treatment; spot-on treatments are very easy to apply, and tablets can be tricky to give especially to cats (even when you think you have been successful you may find the tablet on the floor the next day). Again at a worming consultation all these different methods will be discussed with you and will be considered in your worming plan, as will the frequency of worming.
It is important to have an accurate weight for your pet as the dosage will change depending on their weight. It is also important to not confuse dog and cat medication as this error could be fatal.
Getting the medication from a veterinary practice is the best way to choose the correct medication for your and receiving advice on selecting the best product for you and your pet.