Worms are internal parasites that can cause loss of condition and ill health in pets as well as some posing a potential risk to people.
There are a range of worms that our pets can catch – the usual suspects are roundworm and tapeworm – however, whipworm and hookworm are also common, and lungworm, transmitted by slugs and snails, is present in a number of areas and can be fatal to dogs.
Symptoms are difficult to spot, but can include loss of condition, vomiting and diarrhoea. Luckily, worms are easy to prevent with many different licensed medicines available. Your vet or pet care specialist will be happy to give you advice on what to choose. It is advisable to give pets a regular preventative treatment in accordance with the product instructions, and if you have any worries or queries, check with your vet.
We spoke to dog owner, Frances Heaton, about what she does to help prevents worms in her dog Barney and what to do when he does get them. Read her story below.
- How do you keep Barney free of worms?
As worms are so easily caught, it’s difficult to keep Barney completely free from the potential for infestation. We walk in the local woods and along the canal banks, and – as all dogs do – he sniffs everywhere!
We use preventative measures to try and keep Barney free from worms, buying proprietary products from local pet stores, or occasionally from the vet. We generally worm him every 3 or 4 months, and this seems to work well. This is particularly important as Barney has the run of the house, chairs and bed.
- How do you know what to do to prevent worms?
We gain most information from the internet, talking to other dog owners, and having previous experience of owning other dogs.
- Why is it important for you and other owners to make sure worms are prevented?
The recent outbreak of lungworm makes it particularly important to watch for symptoms, as I believe the result of this disease can be fatal.
- A guide to worming
Your vet is your best source of advice if you have any queries or worries about preventing worms – they or the pet care specialist at your local pet store will be happy to talk through the options available. There is a large range of different options, effective against the different parasites that might challenge your pet. We also have a brief guide to worms on our website for both cats and dogs.
- Next time
Next month we will be looking at vaccinations.
The full ‘What does pet health look like?’ series will include a range of relevant topics throughout the year such as; responsible feeding, diet and exercise; fleas, ticks and skin conditions; grooming and dental care; vaccinations; and the importance of companionship.