Worms - The Veterinary Centre, Glasgow

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Hot Topics - Worms and Your Pets

What are worms?
Roundworms and tapeworms are intestinal parasites seen in many animal species. (Ringworm is in fact caused by a fungus and is not a worm at all).

How does my pet get worms?
Worms can infect your pet in a number of different ways. Most commonly in adult animals, they will directly ingest an egg in the environment or indirectly if they eat small prey or raw meat that can carry an intermediate stage of the worm.
After ingestion the egg hatches in the gut and grows into an adult worm that finally produces eggs of its own. These are then passed into the environment in the faeces and the cycle starts again.

A common tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum, has an intermediate stage in fleas and when the animal grooms itself it could accidentally ingest fleas carrying immature tapeworms.

Toxocara canis – a common roundworm - has other ways of infecting dogs. It can infect puppies whilst still in the womb and can also be shed in the mother’s milk. A similar worm also is seen in cats in the UK.

What can worms cause to my pet’s health?
Adult animals may show no signs of ill health despite having high worm burdens. More severe signs are seen in young animals where it can cause poor growth, vomiting, diarrhoea, pot-bellied appearance and intestinal impaction in severe cases.  

Are there any dangers to humans from worms?  
Some worms that affect cats and dogs can be hazardous to humans if they accidentally ingest the larvae. The dog roundworm can potentially cause blindness. Unfortunately, it is often children who are affected. For these reasons it is very important to wash hands after playing with pets and before eating, worm your pet regularly and clean up after your dog to reduce environmental contamination.

How would I know if my pet had worms?
Most adult animals show few signs of having worms. Occasionally roundworms can be seen if the animal vomits but only the eggs are passed in the faeces and these are too small to be seen by the human eye. Tapeworms eggs can often be spotted in the faeces or around the anus and resemble small grains of rice that can move.
Your pet may also suffer from weight loss and/or stomach upsets.

How do I treat my pet for worms?
There are a variety of different treatments available from your vets including tablets, powders, spot-on preparations, liquids and flavoured treats.

How often should I treat my pet?
We recommend treating your pet every 3 months to keep worm burdens down but the frequency of treatments can vary between different animals. Ask your vet for further details.



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