Endoparasites (worms) are parasites that live and feed within a host. They are among the most common parasites in cats and dogs and, if left untreated, have the potential to cause health problems in our pets.
Some worms are zoonotic which means they can also infect humans. There are many types of worms, the main species that affect pets in the UK are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and lungworm.
Lungworm is a potentially life threatening parasite that is being seen more commonly across the UK.
- It mainly affects dogs and foxes, but can infect other animals.
- When a lungworm is ingested by a dog, the adult worm lives in the heart and major blood vessels that supply the lungs.
- Dogs often become infected by eating infected slugs and snails, or even their slime trail left over food and water bowls, or toys left outside can be enough to cause infection too.
Early symptoms can vary but look out for:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Unusual Behaviour
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
As the infection worsens, so do the symptoms:
- Excessive bleeding from minor wounds
- Nose bleeds
- Bleeding into the eye
If lungworm is treated early, the dog can make a full recovery, but reinfection is always possible so, prevention is always advisable! This must be monthly and can only be prescribed by your vet.
These worms look like strands of cooked spaghetti and are the most common intestinal parasite seen in dogs and cats but they can affect reptiles and birds.
Worm eggs and larvae are passed in the faeces of infected animals. Some can survive in the soil for a year or more.
The eggs/larvae are ingested by a host, this could be a mouse or bird that is then eaten. Adult animals may show no obvious signs, but young animals can be more severely affected.
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Poor coat condition
- Pot Belly
- Stunted Growth
If a person accidentally swallows these eggs, the larvae can cause disease or even travel to the eyes where they can potentially cause blindness.
These worms are segmented and look like a grain of rice. They can sometimes be seen in the pet’s faeces or around the anus. The most common host is the flea, this is ingested as the animal grooms itself. Tapeworms eggs/larvae can also be passed in the faeces of infected animals, where they are ingested by a host.
These can be found in dogs but are less common in cats. Hookworms are small, thin, parasitic worms that latch onto the lining of the intestine and feed on their host’s blood. Hookworm larvae can be present in soil. Adult animals may only appear under the weather but, in younger animals, lethargy, poor appetite, diarrhoea containing blood, and anaemia may occur. If people walk barefoot over soil containing hookworm larvae, the larvae can burrow into the skin and cause intense itching.
Whipworms affects dogs but rarely cats. Animals may not show symptoms but, in heavy infestations, the worms cause damage to the intestines which can lead to diarrhoea containing blood.
Worming our pets regularly is vitally important. It helps reduce potentially harmful effects of parasites, not just for the health of your pet, but in order to help protect you and your family.
There are a variety of options available for worming your pets, give us a call to discuss the best options for you and your pet.