Worms can be very unpleasant for you and your pet but, luckily, they’re preventable. Regular worming treatment will help to protect your pet from worms.
There are three main types of worm that can affect pets. Speak to your vet about the best worming treatment for your pet.
The problem with worms
Worms are parasites that live inside the body. There are many different types of worm that can affect pets, but the most common are roundworms and tapeworms, which affect dogs and cats (and people!). Lungworm is also a growing problem for pets around the UK:
- Roundworms: roundworms live in the small intestine. Young animals get them from their parents and adults can pick them up out and about. In puppies and kittens, a mild infestation of roundworms can cause a pot-belly, poor growth and occasional diarrhoea. A more severe infestation can cause a nutrient deficiency or a life-threatening blockage of the intestines. In adult dogs and cats, severe roundworms can cause poor coat condition, vomiting and diarrhoea. Sometimes, you might notice entire live worms in your pet’s sick or poo (see image).
- Tapeworms: adult tapeworms also live in the small intestine. They shed segments which are passed in poo. These look a bit like grains of rice and can sometimes be seen around the tail and the area around your pet’s bottom. Pets with tapeworms might also excessively lick or groom their rear end. Some tapeworms can be passed on to your pet by fleas, so good flea control is an important part of preventing these worms.
- Lungworms: lungworm is a potentially fatal parasite carried by slugs and snails. Dogs can become infected through eating slugs or snails, or by eating contaminated grass from snail trails, which can get on toys too. Lungworm can make dogs seriously unwell and, although they can recover from them with the right treatment, it's best to try and prevent them from getting infected. Cats can also get lungworm through ingesting infected birds, frogs, rodents or by drinking contaminated water. Lungworm is more common in certain parts of the UK so speak to your bet about whether your dog or cat needs to take preventive treatments to protect them.