No one likes to know their beloved cat or dog has worms. The truth of the matter is most cats and dogs will have worms at some point in their lives. So you’re probably wondering how do you know if your pet has worms.

The Symptoms

Not all pets show symptoms of worm infestation, which means a regular worming programme is a must. In kittens and puppies, a distended abdomen or ‘pot belly’ can be an indication of severe worm infestation. You may also see worms in faeces or vomit or around your pet’s bottom. Although this is not always the case and there are other subtle signs you should look out for.

  • Your pet is losing weight
  • Weakness and diarrhoea
  • Loss of condition
  • Lack of appetite
  • Coughing – caused by migrating larvae in the lungs
  • Scooting – dragging the bottom along the floor!

Types of worms

Roundworms

White to pinkish brown worms, similar to earthworms and are usually 2-3 inches long. These are the most commonly seen worms!!! Yuk!!!

Tapeworms

Can appear like white grains of rice, which are joined together to form a tape. These are most commonly found in adult cats and dogs. Some types of tapeworm can be several metres in length and when established they can be difficult to remove. Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs so it’s important to keep your pets flea-free too.

Most worms will live in the intestine and feed on partly digested food. Both types of worms are easy to eliminate with a routine worming programme. If you are not sure always consult with your local veterinarian for their advice.

Animals can pick worms up in a variety of ways

  • Contact with other infected animals
  • Eating the larvae or eggs of worms (e.g. in infected faeces or in grass)
  • Eating infected prey animals
  • Licking and digestion of fleas

How to prevent worms in pets

  • Worm your pet at least 4 times a year
  • Keep your pet and home flea free
  • Disinfect food and water bowls regularly
  • Clean up after your pet and dispose of faeces carefully

Risk to humans

Certain worms are capable of being transmitted from animals to humans. These are known as the cat roundworm (Toxocara cati) and the dog roundworm (Toxocara canis). Humans can be infected by swallowing worm eggs found in the environment. This can easily be avoided by regular worming of pets and good housekeeping rules.

  • Always remove fresh faeces
  • Always wash your hands after cleaning up faeces
  • Keep to a regular worming programme for your pet

Worms are definitely a disgusting, yucky part of being a pet parent. However good housekeeping and a routine flea and worming programme will keep everyone safe!