This topic can make some people feel a little squeamish, it is very important to understand why our animals require regular de-worming. Today we will focus on cats and dogs!
When born, puppies and kittens already have a burden of worms in their intestines, passed over from their mother through the placenta.
Neonates have no natural immune system of their own, so in the first several weeks they are relying on the immunity they receive from their mother through the milk. If they have a burden of worms in their intestinal tract, the effects will lower their immune system further, whilst possibly causing other issues such as ill-thrift, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Public Health Importance – a child only needs to ingest a few round worm eggs to potentially develop a condition know as Visceral larva migrans (VLM) This is cause by the larvae migrating through the blood stream to various human organs causing inflammation and damage. These larvae can infect, but not develop to maturity in humans. Affected organs can include the liver, heart (causing myocarditis) and the CNS (causing dysfunction, seizures, and coma). A special variant is ocular larva migrans where (usually) canine roundworm larvae travel to the eye. Hydatids was another disease transmitted by a canine tapeworm which has fortunately now been eliminated in New Zealand. When these animal diseases affect humans, they are known as Zoonoses.
The types of worms we treat include:
Tapeworms – these have the intermediate host of a flea and often the only clinical signs we see of this worm is actual visualisation of tapeworms in the animals’ faeces or them ‘scooting’ their bottoms on the floor. Tapeworms can infect humans if they ingest an infected flea.
Roundworms can cause ill-thrift, vomiting and diarrhoea, especially in young animals. They are transferred from their mother via the placenta, and then milk, from the environment and especially other dogs/cats faeces.
Hookworms infect dogs by ingestion of larvae from the environment, by larvae penetrating the skin, or in pregnant bitches/queens through the placenta or milk. Worms can cause damage to the lungs, and suck blood in the intestines causing anaemia. If they invade the skin en masse they can cause skin infections. Young dogs are once again more susceptible, and humans can also become infected.
How often do I need to worm treat my cat or dog?
From two weeks of age, puppies and kittens should be given a worm treatment every 2 weeks until they are 3-4 months of age, then once monthly until 6 months old. Following this, they require worm treatments 3-6 monthly continually.
How long do worm treatments last for?
It is a misconception that worm treatments last for any length of time. Wormers will rid the animal of the immature and adult life stages in the gastrointestinal tract at the time of treatment, however they do not last for any length of time after this.
To discuss further, or to find out the best treatment to use, please stop in to your local Anexa Vet Clinic for advise.