Worming your dog or cat Lydon Veterinary Centre

Roundworms (Toxocara and Toxascaris)

We recommend that all adult dogs and cats are routinely wormed against roundworms every 3 months as recommended by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

How often a puppy or kitten needs to be wormed and with what product depends on the health of the individual and previous doses of wormer that he or she may have been given. Your vet will advise you on the best worming regime for your puppy or kitten at the time of vaccination.

If you have bred a litter from your own bitch or queen you can start worming the puppies or kittens from about 3 weeks of age - ask your vet for advice.

Why should I worm my dog or cat? My pet is very healthy and I never see any worms passed in the faeces, so why should I bother worming him or her?

Normal healthy adult dogs and cats can harbour a few roundworms in their intestines without showing any signs of illness at all. These few worms produce hundreds of microscopic eggs that are shed into the environment via the faeces. The eggs are very resistant to destruction and can survive outside for several months or years. When the egg is eaten by another dog or cat it develops into a new worm and the cycle starts over again.

If the egg is eaten by a person (usually a child playing in the garden or the park) it hatches into an immature worm called a larva which travels around the body. This is often harmless but if the larva lodges at the back of the eye it can result in blindness. Cases like this are fortunately very rare, with only a few reported each year but if everybody routinely worms their pets then the risks can be reduced further.

Most worming preparations do not have a lasting effect, so if you suspect your pet has become reinfested with roundworms before the 3 months is up you may wish to worm it sooner.

Suitable products for routine worming against roundworms include:

Tapeworms

How will I know if my pet has tapeworms? In most cases if your pet is infected with tapeworms you will see segments of the worm (looking like grains of white rice) passed in the faeces or possibly wriggling round on the hair near the anus.

My pet rubs his bottom along the floor, is this caused by worms? Sometimes worms can cause some irritation but this is more commonly a sign of blocked anal glands so you should consult your vet if the irritation persists after worming.

Tapeworms cannot be spread directly from one pet to another and cannot be spread from your pet to humans. All tapeworms have to spend part of their lifecycle in another animal. There are two main types of tapeworms seen in pet cats and dogs.

Taenia species - these spend half their lifecycle in small animals such as mice and birds and are transmitted to our pets when they eat the infected animal. These are therefore more commonly seen in cats.

Effective treatment against these is with:

Other forms of tapeworms may be seen especially in dogs and cats living on farms and Drontal plus and Drontal cat are very effective against these types.

Hookworms and whipworms

These are rarely seen in pet dogs and cats in this country but may occasionally be seen where large numbers of dogs are kennelled together. Wormers such as Drontal plus and Drontal cat are also effective against these.

Lungworms

Lungworms are occasionally seen in our dogs and cats. Specialist tests are needed to diagnose them but they can be treated. Consult your vet if your dog or cat develops a cough.

In summary

Worm your pet routinely every 3 months against roundworms. If your pet is a hunter or has a lot of fleas consider using a complete wormer instead of just a round wormer. Consult your vet if your pet is losing weight, develops a cough or rubs his bottom along the ground!