THE DANGERS OF INTESTINAL WORMS
Intestinal worms are common in pets like dogs and cats and can cause illness or even death. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of dogs and 75 per cent of cats carry intestinal worms, which is not surprising when you consider that some worms can produce up to 30,000 eggs per day and some eggs can survive in the environment for up to five years!
Not only do worms make your best buddy sick, they represent a serious health risk for humans as well. Children especially are most at risk of infection as they are often closest to the family pet.
The good news is, worms can be easily prevented by regularly worming your pet.
Types of worms found in dogs and cats
Hookworm – The most dangerous of all intestinal worms, hookworms reach 5-19 cm in length and survive by burrowing in the pet’s intestinal lining and feeding on the blood and fluid released. Hookworms are zoonotic parasites that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Roundworm – The most common worm in dogs, roundworms can reach 9-19 cm in length and the adult worm produces a large number of eggs daily. These eggs can survive in the environment for many years. Roundworms are zoonotic parasites that can be passed from animals to humans. Children are especially at risk as they can become infected with roundworms by playing in dirt or sand that has been contaminated by dog or cat faeces.
Whipworm – Adult whipworms attach to the intestinal lining of the large intestine where they live and feed on blood. On average, female whipworms produce over 2,000 eggs per day and these eggs can survive for up to five years in the environment.
Tapeworm – There are commonly two types of tapeworm that affect dogs and cats in Far North Queensland; Flea Tapeworm and Spirometra Tapeworm. The Flea Tapeworm grows up to 50 cm in length and it is the most common tapeworm infecting dogs. As the flea is an intermediate host, infection occurs when the pet is grooming and ingests a flea infected with tapeworm eggs. The Spirometra Tapeworm is more common in cats than dogs. Pets become infected by ingesting intermediate hosts such as lizards, mice/rats, frogs etc. Once infected with Spirometra, tapeworms ranging from 1.5m-5 metres in length can be found in the small intestine. Spirometra causes serious disease in frogs as well which means it is very important to treat your cats.
Treating Spirometra requires a high dose of tapewormer – normal worm treatments just don’t work.
What can we do to prevent worm infestations?
• Worm puppies every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly until six months of age.
• Worm dogs over six months of age every three months.
• Worm kittens every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly until six months of age.
• Worm cats over six months of age every three months.
Some worm tablets, worm pastes and spot-ons do not kill Spirometra tapeworm. Speak to our receptionists for more information on effective worming for your cat.
• Practice good hygiene when cleaning cat litter trays, making sure to clean trays every day.
• Cover sand pits.
• Pick up after your dog during walks.
• Use flea prevention regularly to prevent flea tapeworm.
• Always wash hands before eating, drinking, handling animals, etc.
For further information on your pet’s worming needs, speak to our experienced staff at either of our clinics.
To Visit Cairns Vet Website, click here.
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