It is common for worms to affect the gastro-intestinal tract while others infect the circulatory system. Roundworm, tapeworm, hook and whip-worms are those found in the GI tract; heartworms can infest the circulatory system. The following is a short description of the most common worms that may affect your pet:
Roundworms are one of the most common types of worm in cats and dogs. They are transmitted either by contaminated soil, scavenging animals or by moving through the placental barrier to an unborn pup and even through the mothers' milk, meaning some animals are born with them.
There is an important note with roundworm, as they have a zoonotic potential. Meaning they can be passed to humans, especially children if they somehow ingest the eggs which are shed in dog faeces. This can be by direct contact with an infected pet or by playing in contaminated soil. It can result in serious health conditions, including blindness and fever. So it is very important to worm your pets regularly for all our childrens sake.
Common symptoms you may find with your pets include:
Roundworms are approx 10-15cms and can be visible in the faeces and vomit, they look like "spaghetti".
Tapeworms are flat, segmented "tape" like in appearance, they attach to the intestinal wall, passing their eggs into the environment at variable intervals, this is the section the owners can see, the egg packets appear like rice grains in the coat or in faeces.
Tapeworms are contracted from an intermediate host by ingesting fleas or raw meat from birds, rodents therefore hunting cats are at particular risk.
The key to prevent tapeworm is to prevent flea infestations.
This worm is transmitted via the mosquito, and is becoming more of a problem in the UK due to importing and exporting of pets more readily, also the change in climate. It develops in the bloodstream and infests the heart causing serious health conditions, which can be fatal. The initial symptom is coughing as the parasite finds it way to the lungs and heart. It is easily prevented but a real challenge to treat.
Lungworm lives in the heart and blood vessels supplying the lungs, left untreated it can be fatal. The parasite is carried by slugs and snails and become ingested by your pet accidentally or purposely. Foxes also become infected and have been implicated in the spread of the disease.
It is important to note that conventional worming tablets do not treat lungworm but treatment is widely available, please come and talk to our nurses, if you are concerned.