Worms are almost inevitable in pets, so knowing what to look for and how to treat them is important for your pet’s health.
Worm warning signs:
- - Weakness
- - Diarrhoea or vomiting
- - Weight loss despite good appetite
- - Abnormally swollen stomach
Worms can basically be divided into two main groups; Intestinal worms and Heartworms, so it is important that you use the correct product for the worms you need to treat.
The most common types of intestinal worms are Hookworm, Tapeworm, Whipworm and Roundworm.
Hookworm is one of the most dangerous of all intestinal parasites. It can be transmitted prior to birth or through suckling. It may be detected by the level of your pet’s lethargy, anaemia, poor appetite and black tar-like stools that contain blood. Hookworm is usually not passed in the stool, and is therefore difficult to diagnose without a fecal test from your vet.
Tapeworm lives in the small intestine, and steals the nutrients from the food your pet eats. It can infect your pet when it eats its larvae from a host animal, such as a flea or a mouse. There are no obvious symptoms, but small, rice-like segments can be found around the pet’s anus or in the stool. Mature tapeworms cause your pet to eat more than normal, but with no weight gain.
Whipworm will find its way to your pet’s digestive tract, causing chronic bowel inflammation. You may notice mucus in the stools, weight loss or diarrhoea.
Roundworm can be contracted via infected poo or dirt. This thin, spaghetti-like parasite, about 12cm long, can cause a potbellied appearance. Symptoms can include weight loss, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea or mucus in the stool, and stunted growth.
In order to help keep your pet happy and healthy, it is advised to treat your pet for Intestinal worms every 3 months.
Heartworm can enter a pet from the bite of a mosquito. Heartworm disease is often not recognised until the disease is quite advanced. It causes heart or lung damage, coughing, lethargy, fatigue, and can be fatal. Heartworm can be detected through a blood test. It is difficult to cure, though simple to prevent.
Heartworm prevention is recommended from 6 weeks of age, and continued at monthly intervals all year round.
If your pet has not yet commenced heartworm treatment, it is advised to obtain a blood test from your vet first to ensure your pet does not already have the disease. There is a risk of an adverse reaction with any heartworm preventative if your pet has already contracted heartworm disease.