Intestinal Worms

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.

 

Intestinal Worms

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:

  • Roundworm

  • Tapeworm

  • Whipworm

  • Hookworm

If your pet has a large number of worms they may find it difficult to maintain body condition and therefore 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.

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

  • 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 from public parks and playgrounds

 

Intestinal worming protocol for puppies and kittens:

  • Puppies and kittens from 6 - 12 weeks of age - It is recommended to worm every 2 weeks.
  • Puppies and kittens from 12 - 24 weeks of age - It is recomended to worm every 4 weeks.

 

Intestinal worming protocol for adult dogs and cats:

  • Dogs and cats over the age of 6 months - It is recommended to worm every 6 months

Other states in Australia may recommend intestinal worming every 3 months for adult dogs and cats. In Alice Springs we do not have a high worm burden, due to the hot dry climiate and therefore recommend intestinal worming every 6 months. If there is a humid summer we may change this recommendation to intestinal worming every 3 months for adult dogs and cats. It is also recommended for households with todlers or young children that they also worm their dogs and cats every 3 months.

 

Please call us to discuss an intestinal worming program for your pet.