Types of worms
There are four main types of worms that our pets can pick up in this country: Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms and Lungworms (French Heartworm). At the present time no dog has been shown to have picked up Heartworm in the UK.
There are many species of these, the most important of which are the Ascarid worms, which not only can make pets ill, but also can cause blindness and epilepsy in children. Roundworms from pets can’t hatch into roundworms in people, and the roundworms found in children are a totally different species which can't affect animals at all. Most pets get roundworms initially from their mothers either when they are in the womb or from her milk. Worm eggs are passed in your pet's motions and require a period on the ground of approximately 3 weeks before becoming infectious to other pets and people. If the infectious larvae is picked up by a dog or cat it hatches into an adult worm in the intestines, if by a child it may wander around the body causing trouble until the larvae dies. If it gets into an eye it could cause blindness, if into the brain it could cause fits. In pets, especially young ones, roundworms cause poor coat, loss of weight, large tummies, coughs and liver problems. Many adult pets can carry two or three worms without being ill, but they will pass a lot of eggs. Diagnosing roundworms is not easy unless you see the adult worms in vomit or motions, where they look like broken elastic bands. They can be quite small or very large but are usually 3-4 cm long. The eggs are too small to detect without special equipment.
There are three types of tapeworm commonly found in pets. One, Echinococcus, is found in dogs which eat uncooked sheep meat. Another, Dipylidium, is picked up by pets from catching and eating fleas. The last sort, Taenia, is found in pets who eat small birds and rodents. All of them cause loss of condition and poor coats, especially when a pet has picked up a lot of them. The two most common ones are often easy to diagnose as a pet with them will usually have small (1/2 to 1 cm) white segments moving about in its coat near its bottom. These segments of the tapeworm can also be found on the motions. You can tell the difference between these and flea larvae as flea larvae have small black heads.
It is not possible to diagnose Echinococcus easily as the segments are very small. These worms cause Hydatid disease in man and animals so pets that eat raw sheep meat should be routinely treated for this tapeworm.
These are found in dogs only, but are not common in this area and are usually picked up in kennels. The worm has a large mouth with relatively enormous teeth. It moves about inside the intestine biting holes in the lining of the bowel, causing large amounts of bleeding. It feeds on the blood and causes anaemia and loss of weight. Dogs with this worm often have sore feet as they pick up the worm larvae on their feet, and the worm burrows up their legs and into their bowel.
This is a type of roundworm that lives in the lungs. They get there by burrowing through the liver and lungs and cause chronic coughs.
Canine Lungworm (French Heartworm)
Dogs get these from eating very small snails, usually when they are eating grass. They make dogs very ill, with heart disease, clotting problems and various other signs possible. We have not yet seen any evidence of infected snails in this area, but there are lots abroad and in other areas of the UK, so you need to be on your guard. for further information see www.lungworm.co.uk
“Panacur” is a drug that kills 99% of adult and developing stages of roundworms, the Taenia species of tapeworms and feline lungworms. It comes as a powder, paste and liquid and is very safe. We use it routinely in puppies and kittens where we give a dose at 2-3 weeks or when we first see them, and then again at 12 weeks. We also use it as a routine treatment for worms.
“Droncit” is a drug which can be given by tablet that has few side-effects and which kills all tapeworms. We use it routinely for controlling tapeworms, however at the moment we see very few tapeworms..
“Drontal Plus” tablets are used in dogs or cats against all worms except lungworms. They are easy to give, very effective and very safe.
“Stronghold” is a spot-on liquid that kills fleas, adult roundworms, mange in dogs and ear mites in cats. It is very popular for kittens and puppies as well as adult dogs and cats who don't pick up ticks.
“Advocate” is a spot on liquid that does the same as stronghold but also is licensed to control French heartworm (lungworm in doga). However it is not very effective in dogs which go swimming more than twice a month.
“Milbemax” is a new broad spectrum wormer that is effective against roundworms, tapeworms, heartworms, lungworm and hookworms. The tablets are very small and palatable making them easy to give.
“Profender” is a spot on worming preparation for cats. It is effective against roundworms and tapeworms.
"Broadline" is a spot on preparation for cats that controls fleas, ticks and all worms.
We would normally recommend worming young animals monthly until they six months of age.
After that we would recommend worming every three months with a broad spectrum wormer. If your pet comes into contact with young children the gold standard is to treat every three weeks for roundworms, but many authorities say that worming with a larvicidal drug such as panacur every three months is quite adequate.
This worming programme is also recommended by the Pet Health Council and the Veterinary Associations.
If worms are seen we will advise a drug depending on the type of pet and the description of the worm seen.