There are two broad categories of worms that may affect our pet dogs and cats, intestinal worms and heartworms. Please see our heartworm page for more information.
Worming is one of the first health care issues pet owners need to address as pups and kittens are the most susceptible. As their name suggests, intestinal worms are parasites that live inside your pet’s intestines. These worms range in size from small to surprisingly large (up to 18cm in length). Regardless of their size however, they all have negative, and potentially deadly effects.
Most species of animal, as well as humans, can be infected with intestinal worms including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, fish, birds and reptiles.
Common intestinal worms in Australian pets are:
Tapeworm- In the tropics, cats in particular get the 'zipper worm' (Spirometra tapeworm) from eating geckos, small lizards, tadpoles and some insects. This specific tapeworm requires higher amounts of a drug called Praziquantel than any 'Allwormer' on the market provides on its own. We must add additional Praziquantel in the form of extra Virbac Tapewormer to eliminate these.
Hookworm- there are 4 types, including one that humans can catch.
The worming schedule we recommend is:
Kittens and Puppies:
- At two weeks of age the first wormer should be given. This can come in the form of a syrup for ease of administration for puppies.
- From then on worming should be given every 2 weeks (4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks and 12 weeks of age) to prevent severe illness or death.
- From 12 weeks they should be wormed every month until 6 months of age. (Please also see the Heartworm information page).
- Then every three months from 6 months of age.
- Should be gut wormed every three months. Cats that are prolific hunters may need monthly tapeworming due to large amounts of zipper worm.
- All meat and offal (organs such as liver, kidneys etc) must be cooked thoroughly or fully frozen for at least 5 days before being fed to dogs or cats to help prevent Hydatid Tapeworm spread (which are a serious threat to both animals and humans).
If your pet has a large number of worms it may find it difficult to maintain body condition and it can lose weight. In some cases it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and even anaemia (a low red blood cell level). Occasionally, heavy intestinal worm burdens can cause death. This is especially true for puppies and kittens.
Worms sometimes have complex lifecycles which involve a period of existence and development outside your pet. Understanding the life cycle of a specific worm is important so that strategies for treatment and prevention can be designed and implemented. For instance, some tapeworms need to pass through fleas to complete their lifecycle, so flea prevention is an important method of controlling tapeworms.
It is important to maintain a routine worming treatment for your pets, to reduce the incidence of infection and to reduce environmental contamination. There are many worming treatments available for the various worm infections that occur in our pets.These are available as tablets, spot-ons, or pastes. Re-infection is a common problem, particularly in pets that are in contact with a heavily contaminated environment. Another very important reason to worm your pets is to protect your family; as children in particular can become infected with certain dog and cat worms.
Below are some tips to consider regarding worm prevention:
Promptly clean up pet faeces as worm eggs can contaminate the environment.
Practice good hygiene, always encourage children to wash their hands regularly (especially after playing in dirt or sandpits, playing with pets or prior to eating)
Prevent children from playing where the soil may be contaminated
Keep your pet's environment clean
Always dispose of dog faeces in public parks and playgrounds
Please call us to discuss an intestinal worming program for your pet.