Worms: Break the vicious cycle
The humble earthworm is commonly known as a gardeners’ best friend, yet hiding in amongst the same patch of earth you can also find more sinister creatures that have potential to cause serious damage to the health of your pet and possibly your family also – intestinal worms.
There are four common groups of intestinal worm, namely: tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. These all have the ability to infect cats and dogs and over many years they have adapted their lifecycles to ensure that they are able to successfully infect and go on to reinfect our pets.
The eggs and larvae of intestinal worms can be found in garden soil waiting for the inquisitive probing of the local cat or dog. Once ingested, these immature forms develop and live in the intestine of your pet, feeding off both their host’s blood and any food your pet has eaten, robbing them of vital nutrients and generally weakening your pet. These worms then reproduce whilst in the gut and produce more eggs, which are passed out in faeces to re-infest the environment, ready for the cycle to start again.
Some tapeworms use fleas as a vector to deliver immature worm stages into the intestine of cats and dogs, whilst other types of tapeworm hide in carcasses of farm animals, waiting for a scavenging Labrador. Other types of worms, such as roundworms are a bit more cunning, travelling via the dam’s milk to infect suckling puppies.
Intestinal worms have the potential to cause disease, ranging from mild anal irritation to vomiting, diarrhoea, distended stomach, anaemia and even death in the most severe cases. As a zoonosis (disease which can affect humans), these worms also have the potential to cause blindness in people.
Therefore, it is vitally important that our pets are wormed at least every three months and we practice good personal hygiene when dealing with our animals.