Of all domesticated animals, dogs and cats have become man's closest companions. They share our homes and rely upon us for shelter, food and welfare. With urbanization and higher rates of dog and cat ownership our responsibilities to our pets, our children's health and to our community require an understanding of dog and cat worms. Many people are unaware that dog and cat intestinal worm species can be transmitted to man. Apart from Hydatid Tapeworm disease the overall incidence of zoonoses is relatively low. However, to safeguard the health of the family, it is important to take appropriate preventative measures
There are three species of hookworm infecting dogs and cats in Australia. The adult stages suck blood from the intestinal wall and can produce anaemia, enteritis, diarrhoea and death in Perth - due to our dry conditions; they are all that common but are often seen in kennel situations. The routes of infection are via oral digestion, skin penetration, uterus and milk in the young, or via rodents(rats and mice).
There are two major species affecting dogs and cats and the incidence is high in young animals - particularly under three months of age. Large numbers of adult worms may block the gut, interfering with digestion which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea to occur. The larvae can cause damage to the lungs of young puppies on their migration to the gut.
These are a problem with dogs, and again, whilst not all that common in Perth, can cause intestinal colic and diarrhoea when in large numbers. The mode of transportation is via ingestion of the eggs from the droppings of infected animals and the bitch can contaminate her pups via the uterus and milk.
These are long, flat worms and are divided into small segments. The most common one is the flea tapeworm, and this is of paramount importance in Perth. It can cause irritation of the backside as the worms migrate through the anal sphincter, and can also create a dull, lack-lustre coat in both dogs and cats. The Hydatid tapeworm, whilst rare in Perth, can pose problems when dogs are fed sheep or kangaroo offal. The worm has no effect on the dog and is very small and poses a serious risk to man, requiring radical surgery in extreme cases.
Intestinal Worms - What to Look For
Because of their behaviour during development and as adults, worm species cause a variety of signs of disease in both dogs and cats. In general, however, the main signs of a worm problem include:
- Anaemia - paleness of skin and gums
- Pot-Belly Appearance
- Weight Loss
- White segments - In droppings, coat or around anus. This occurs with tapeworm - especially the common Flea Tapeworm.
At Swanbourne Veterinary Centre, we recommend the following worming treatment protocol:
Puppies and Kittens
- Treat at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 & 12 weeks of age
- Treat at 4, 5 & 6 months of age
- Treat every 3 months for life
Pregnant/Lactating Bitches and Queens
- Treat prior to mating
- Treat 10 days before whelping or kittening
- Treat 2 & 4 weeks after whelping or kittening
- Treat every 3 months for life
Our staff will be happy to discuss the deworming of your pet with you and tailor a preventative program for your animal's particular situation.