Pot-bellied pups and greedy kittens are a familiar sight for loving pet owners – but there could be an underlying and rather unpleasant cause for their appearance.
Worms are a very common problem for pets; the parasites that live inside the body can go unnoticed as symptoms are often very mild unless the pet is heavily infested. Two types seen in cats and dogs are roundworms and tapeworms, but thankfully it’s easy to prevent these problems
Owners may see roundworms in the pet’s poo, but most dogs show few symptoms unless there’s a lot of the parasite. In that case, the dog can have diarrhoea and vomit as well as not growing well and having a poor coat. Occasionally in younger pets, the worms can obstruct the intestines, which can be fatal.
Tapeworms live in the small intestine absorbing nutrients from the pet’s food.
“This unpleasant sight is easy to avoid by sticking to regular worming treatments,” says PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury. “By treating your cat or dog regularly with a tablet that gets rid of the worms, owners can stop their pets having these unpleasant parasites in their body, as well as keeping the contamination of soil through infected pets to a minimum. Your vet can recommend the best treatment for your pet.”
However, these problematic parasites don’t just pose a risk for our beloved animals; common roundworms and a type of tapeworm can affect people too.
She said: “Roundworm eggs (Toxocara canis) are dangerous to people as they can cause blindness and affect the organs, such as the liver. Unfortunately it’s quite easy fur humans to pick up worm larvae inadvertently, which is why it’s important to always make sure any poop is carefully picked up. Also, cover sandpits to prevent them being used as a litter tray. The eggs can remain alive in soil or sand for up to six years, and are very sticky so can stick to pet fur, so always wash your hands after stroking your pet or disposing of soiled cat litter. . ”
Flea control is also important, as part of the tapeworm’s life cycle relies on fleas to survive. The flea carries the tapeworms eggs, which then hatch when the pet swallows the flea, which often happens when they groom themselves, so treating for fleas will help to prevent worms as well.
Regularly worming your pet can help eliminate these problems and help to reduce the risk of pets and people being infested with these unpleasant and sometimes dangerous parasites.