Worm infestation is very common in dogs and cats and can cause distress and ill health. The 2 types of worms that trouble our pets are roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworms are spread from animal to animal and are very similar looking to earthworms but much thinner. They can vary from ½” to several inches in length and are usually vomited up or passed through in the motion. Puppies and kittens are particularly susceptible to roundworms and are often infected from birth.
Roundworms can be passed on to humans if the eggs are accidentally ingested. Often this is from the fingers, plates that pets have licked, or from the soil. If young children are in the same surroundings with pets, particular care must be taken.
Tapeworms consist of segments with a head that attaches itself to the intestine. Mature segments break away and can be seen in the motions or around the base of the tail. They appear to show signs of life and resemble flattened grains of rice. Tapeworms are not usually a problem in puppies and kittens but once they are over 6 months of age, treatment should be considered. The main symptoms are poor coat condition and anal irritation.
Fleas are carriers of tapeworm eggs and are a common cause of infestation. They are sometimes picked up from other animals such as birds and rodents; therefore it is a good idea to treat your pets with a suitable insecticide as well as pet beds and carpets and the like. Constant scratching and twitching is a sign of flea infestation and tiny black droppings can often be seen when the coat is combed out.
If you are in any doubt about the health of your pets always consult your veterinary surgeon.