Just the word ‘worms’ makes most of us squirm. Squirm or not they are a serious concern for our work dogs, pet dogs and our cats. They are more easily forgotten than fleas because we can’t see them and often the animal won’t show any signs of having worms. As we share close relationships with our cat and dog friends in New Zealand we run the risk of catching zoonoses (the transfer of infection from animal to human) such as worms.
There are four main types of worms that can affect our animals and our families in New Zealand. They are Tapeworms (2 common types: flea tapeworm and sheep measles), Whipworms, Hookworms, and Roundworms.
Tapeworms: as the name suggests the common flea tapeworm is ingested by flea larvae and as your animals grooms itself it ingests the larvae and the worm too. Sheep measles is spread by feeding infected raw sheep or goat meat to your dog. This worm can shed 250 000 eggs per day and can survive in pasture for up to 6 months. There are other species of tapeworms also.
Whipworm: is more often found in dogs than cats although can affect both. It is a blood feeding worm. As it grows it sucks the blood of the host animal which can cause anaemia, weight loss and eventually death. The eggs are passed in the faeces and can survive in soil for up to 5 years.
Hookworm: as the name suggests hooks itself onto the intestinal wall of the host animal with sharp teeth. It sucks the blood from the animal and can cause anaemia, blood loss, and eventually death. This worm can be passed in the uterus, through the placenta, and also in the milk from mother to offspring.
Roundworm: is probably the most common worm we see especially in puppies. It lives in the small intestine of both dogs and cats and can be passed, like the hookworm, from mother to puppies or kittens. These worms feed off the food that the host is eating therefore the host animal misses out on all the nutrients it needs from the food. Adult female roundworms can lay 200 000 eggs a day.
Recently we saw an 8 week old puppy that had been vomiting and was in obvious abdominal pain. Surgery was required to investigate. It was discovered that this puppy’s intestine was full of roundworms.
So many were found that they had to be milked out of the intestine by the vet. This is a very serious and expensive surgery for a small puppy to go through. All that was needed was for her to be wormed regularly with an adequate allwormer.
Puppies and kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age because they can pick up worms from their mothers and it can be a serious illness for them, they will fail to thrive and it could possibly lead to death.
There are some worm tablets that don’t cover all worms and some that are just not up to the required standard to deal with all the worms our small four legged friends could contract. It is important to worm your adult animals with a vet approved allwormer, usually every 3 months depending on the worm treatment chosen. Monthly for hydatid control on sheep farms.
There are also many other things you can do to help prevent worms such as: control fleas on your pet, remove faeces from the backyard regularly and empty the litter tray, effectively wash your hands and your children’s hands after playing with your pet, don’t feed your pet raw meat, keep the kennel areas clean and keep sand pits covered.
Otautau Vets has many effective worm treatment options for your pets and working dogs. We can also arrange for treatments to be sent out at the required intervals eliminating the need for you to remember, please just pop in and talk to one of our vet nurses.