These are large white worms that resemble pieces of string and can be up to 18cm long. Adult roundworms live in the small intestine, feeding on the gut contents and so are rarely seen. They are contracted by swallowing infected eggs in the environment or ingesting a host such as a bird or rat. Puppies and kittens can contract roundworm via the mother's milk. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, poor growth and a pot belly. Roundworm can be harmful to humans. Larvae can migrate within body tissues and cause blindness.
Tapeworms infect your pet using an intermediate host, most commonly the flea, or if they hunt rodents or scavenge from carcases. They are long flat worms that resemble ribbons or tape and once mature the tapeworm releases small individual segments containing eggs. The eggs can then pass in your pets faeces and look like small grains of white rice which can cause irritation resulting in excessive licking at the anal area. You may not realise your pet has a tapeworm infection as often they do not show any symptoms.
These are very small and the larvae are impossible to see with the naked eye when passed in faeces. They live in the airways of the lungs and can also be found in the heart and pulmonary arteries. Lungworm is an increasing problem in the UK and it can be life threatening. Lungworm infects your pet if they swallow infected slugs, snails(they can be very small and swallowed accidentally) or even frogs . Foxes can also spread the infection by spreading larvae into the environment. It affects dogs but is not a common problem in cats.
Fleas are small wingless insects, one eighth of an inch in length with long back legs used for jumping. Only 5% of the flea population are found on the animal - 95% are in their environment, such as in your carpets, bedding, pets bedding and your car. Eggs can be laid on the animal but fall into the environment and can lie dormant for up to one year. Fleas can pass from one animal to another. They will bite people as well as cats, dogs and rabbits. This can cause irritating Flea Bite Dermatitis on your pet and in heavy infestations can lead to anaemia. Signs of infestation can include noticeable black “dust” specks on skin or bedding (flea dirt), scratching and in some cats crusty granules can be felt throughout the coat.
Worm and Flea Control
There are various treatments available to prevent your pet having a flea or worm infestation. The most common and convenient treatment is a monthly “spot on” preparation which protects your pet from both fleas and worms. If only treating for worms tablets can be given at quarterly intervals throughout the year. Environmental sprays to control flea infestation may also be necessary. Our vets will advise you on what treatment plan is best for your pet.
You can help reduce the spread of fleas and worm eggs following these simple tips:
- regularly clean pets' bedding
- clean your vacuum cleaner, seal and discard vacuum bags
- treat house with veterinary spray
- continue flea control throughout the year as the warmth of central heating in autumn & winter can activate fleas
- always dispose of your pets faeces to limit contamination
- regularly clean your cats litter tray
- groom pets regularly
- regularly clean pets bedding