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Beverley - 01482 882 377
Hornsea - 01964 532 770
5th December 2017

Internal Parasites of Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats are exposed to intestinal worms all through their lives; from their mothers when they are puppies or kittens, from eggs shed by other pets and wild animals and some from hunting rodents or eating slugs and snails. Most animals have a small number of worms in their intestines which do not cause a problem. However treating your pets routinely to prevent large burdens and to prevent infections with parasites which can cause more serious infections is important.

Intestinal worms can be split into two types; round worms and tape worms. Both of these can cause diarrhoea and itching of the anus. In large enough numbers they can cause obstruction of the intestines of kittens and puppies.  These worms breed in the intestines causing eggs to be shed in the faeces allowing infection to be passed on to other animals. They absorb small amounts of nutrients from the intestines. We recommend treating puppies and kittens every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old and then every month until they are 6 months old. We recommend treating adult animals every 3-4 months.

Lung worms can affect dogs and cats causing breathing difficulties and coughing. The most common route of infection is eating slugs and snails as these are an essential part of the lung worms’ life cycle.

Heart worm is a very serious, potentially fatal, infection with worms which live in one of the chambers of the heart. The infection is passed on by mosquito bites and if fortunately not present in this country. If your pet travels with you on holiday to Continental Europe or further afield then prevention of this infection with regular worming with products effective against heart worm.

Dogs and cats can also be infected with protozoal parasites, these are single celled parasites and can only be identified with a microscope. They can cause a number of clinical diseases and can cause diarrhoea. One of the most important protozoa is Toxoplasma, this is present in cat faeces, it very rarely causes disease in cats but can cause abortion if pregnant mammals are exposed to it, this includes humans! If you are pregnant and have a cat, wear gloves when you are cleaning the litter tray and wash your hands regularly when handling your cat.

Most parasites of dogs and cats cannot be transmitted to humans but a small number can, it is always sensible to exercise good personal hygiene, especially for young children when playing outside. Make sure they wash their hands after handling animals or playing in sand pits, the garden or the park.

If you have any questions about parasite treatment in your pets please contact the surgery!