Puppies and kittens and lactating bitches and queens are the most potent source of infection for roundworms, but 10% of dogs have worms at any given time. The eggs produced by adult roundworms are very resistant and can survive in the environment for long periods. Roundworms can infect humans (in particular young children); every year there are a number of cases where the larvae of roundworm become lodged in children’s eyes.
Dogs and cats always contract tapeworms from an intermediate source including wild animals, raw meat and fleas. Some species of tapeworms found in Europe and in isolated areas of the UK can infect humans.
There are various means of infection with these worms including from wild animals; foxes can act as a reservoir of infection for lungworms.
The heartworm known as Angiostrongylus vasorum is often referred to as lungworm and is increasingly diagnosed in the UK. It causes respiratory signs and uncontrolled bleeding. It spreads through the intermediate host of slugs and snails and the disease is often fatal.
The other heartworm D immitis is widespread in countries with Mediterranean climate. If you are travelling abroad with your pet to one of these areas please ask for advice about prevention of this infection.
Hookworms and Whipworms
These worms are more commonly spread in kennel conditions. They cause a variety of signs including blood loss, skin complaints and severe diarrhoea.
Kittens and Puppies
The main worm of concern in kitten and puppies is the round worm. Both kittens and puppies are born with round worms in their bodies which mature and spread to their intestines. The worms can only be killed once they have reached the intestines. Untreated kittens and puppies can be a potent source of infection both to other animals and to humans (especially children). This practice recommends regular worming of kittens and puppies until weaning and for efficient roundworm control we use the product Advocate at the time of the 1st injection and again one month later.
Cats that spend time out of doors or hunt can be especially prone to infection with both round worms and tapeworms. Round worms in adult cats pose the same threat as those in kittens. Tapeworms are less dangerous but can be irritating to the cat as the segments crawl out from under their tail. The practice recommends treating cats for round worms and tapeworms four times per year. (For further details see here). The most commonly prescribed treatment is a spot on treatment called Profender, which is applied directly to the skin at the base of the neck. Other wormers are also available as tablets and powders to add to the food.
Dogs which are exercised where there is any vegetation, including parks, especially those that are exercised off lead in woods, rough grazing or river banks are susceptible to infection with round worms, tape worms and other worms which are endemic in the fox population. (For further details click here).
To control this risk the practice recommends that adult dogs are treated four times a year with a wormer consisting of the combination of praziquantel , pyrantel & febantel . The wormer Drontal has this combination. To do this accurately the dog should be weighed first (ideally at the surgery) and the dose of tablets calculated. The Pet Health Club plan includes 4 doses of these wormers ( & one dose is free of charge)
All kennels and catteries, even the best run ones, pose slightly different risks with regards to transmission of the different worms. Tapeworms (and ticks) are less of a risk here but some of the lungworms and the hookworms can survive better in a kennel and or cattery environment. Additionally some of the licensing authorities require the kennel and the cattery owner to ensure that round worms are controlled in any animals that are boarded with them. The best way to achieve this control is by applying the treatment Advocate one week before the cat or dog goes into the kennels or cattery. Since the treatment lasts for four weeks this will make sure that your pet doesn’t take any parasite into the kennels or cattery and doesn’t bring any out.
Any pet owner who is considering taking their cat or dog to another country on holiday with them will need to be aware of the requirements of the PETS travel scheme. This scheme which was devised by the government vets at DEFRA is aimed at keeping certain diseases from entering Britain i.e. rabies, hytadiosis and certain tick borne diseases. The requirements of PETS must be observed or your animal will not be allowed back into the UK.
However it is important that your pet is protected while you are abroad. With this in mind we may recommend the use of Advocate prior to leaving the UK depending on which countries you are travelling to or through.