Intestinal Worms, including Flea Tapeworm in Dogs and Cats
Intestinal worms are a group of internal parasites that can cause your dog or cat serious discomfort and compromise their health. They are commonly found in dogs and cats in Australia and can also pose a risk to yourself and your family if not managed appropriately. Humans can be affected by intestinal worms if they accidentally swallow eggs which have been shed in the environment. Children are particularly susceptible to this, as they are often not as careful with handwashing and hygiene. People can also become infected with hookworm by walking barefoot in soil that contains hookworm larvae, which can result in intense itching.
Types of Intestinal Worms
The main types of intestinal worms that infect dogs and cats are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworm. Each of these four types of worms vary in appearance. Adult roundworms are long, white and look like spaghetti, while tapeworms are segmented worms that live in the small intestine of infected pets. We are often unaware of our pets being infected with intestinal worms as the eggs that are shed in the faeces are microscopic. Occasionally tapeworm segments may be seen in the pet’s faeces, or around the anus, resembling tiny crawling rice grains.
Pets can be infected by intestinal worms in several ways. This may be by ingesting eggs that have been shed in the environment or through the consumption of tapeworm cysts in raw meat. In some cases, secondary hosts such as rodents, lizards or even flea larvae ingest the eggs and pets are infected by eating the secondary host. Hookworms can also infect their host by penetrating through the skin. This can occur if a dog or cat walks on soil containing hookworm. Puppies and kittens are particularly susceptible to worms as puppies can be infected in utero and both puppies and kittens can be infected through the milk.
Symptoms of intestinal worm infestations
Some adult dogs or cats will show no external symptoms of intestinal worm infestations, but others, particularly puppies and kittens, can be more severely affected and can even die from heavy burdens. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and poor coat condition. Young animals may also be slow to grow and can display a potbellied appearance.
Prevention of intestinal worms, including flea tapeworm
Regular treatment from a young age, with products that control all of the relevant intestinal worms, will ensure your pet and your family are protected 365 days per year. We recommend intestinal worming against all intestinal worms (roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm) at least every three months. There are a variety of options available for worming your pets, including oral tablets and chews or topical treatments.
Pet Lovers Club delivers complete personalised parasite protection directly to your door every month, making the product choice easy, ensuring you never forget and most importantly optimising the health and lifespan of your much loved pets.
By Dr Lydia Matheson BVSc
Pet Lovers Club Vet