Intestinal worms are relatively common in many animal species including dogs, cats, rabbits, large animals, fish, reptiles and birds. Regular deworming is essential to ensure your pets remain healthy and to reduce the risk of some of these worms being transmitted to people.
Puppies and kittens are often the most susceptible to worm infestation. Intestinal worms are spread via dog faeces, so can be picked up anywhere from the backyard to the dog park. Puppies and kittens sometimes arrive at their new owner’s home with worms already present. In very young dogs, or if present in high numbers, intestinal worms can cause gastrointestinal disease, malnutrition and anaemia. Sometime there may be no obvious signs that your dog has intestinal worms.
Important intestinal worms that can affect Australian dogs are:
Frequent deworming will kill worms that are present but it is very easy for your pet to become reinfested and so it’s important to continue deworming your pet all year round. Some intestinal worm species can produce large numbers of eggs, for example roundworm can lay 200,000 eggs per day within five weeks of infestation. It’s important to maintain a regular deworming program for your pets to reduce eggs being shed into the environment.
Can you get worms from your dog?
The short answer is yes, many worms infesting dogs are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans. Different worms cause different diseases and each have their own symptoms. Whilst anyone can become infected by intestinal worms, children and the immunocompromised are at greater risk. One of the most important ways to reduce human exposure is regular deworming of pets.
How to reduce the risk of human exposure to worms:
- Routine deworming for all pets in your household
- Prompt disposal of pet faeces on a daily basis.
- Ensure good hygiene, encourage children to wash their hands regularly (especially after playing in dirt or sandpits, playing with pets or prior to eating)
- Prevent children from ingesting soil or pet faeces
- Protect playgrounds, garden areas and cover sandpits
- Always dispose of dog faeces in public parks and playgrounds
- Prevent your pet from scavenging or hunting.
Please call us to discuss a deworming program for your pet.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease seen in all mainland states of Australia. Dogs are more susceptible to heartworm infestation than cats, and heartworm disease also tends to be more severe in dogs. Adult worms live within the heart and large blood vessels where they can grow to more than 30 cm in length. Heartworm larvae, more commonly called microfilariae, can also be found circulating in an infected dog’s blood.
How is heartworm in dogs spread?
Heartworms are transmitted from one dog to another by mosquitoes, which pick up the tiny microfilariae when they bite an infected dog. The microfilariae develop in the mosquito and are transmitted when the infected mosquito bites another dog. The heartworm larvae then migrate through the dog’s tissues and circulatory system, eventually reaching the heart and lungs where they grow into adult heartworms.
Why is heartworm disease dangerous?
Heartworm may cause no clinical signs in the early stages of infestation, but as the worms grow and mature, they can interfere with the normal circulation of blood. This can result in signs of heart failure, and in some cases may lead to sudden death.
Thankfully, heartworm is very easy to prevent and should form part of your pet health care routine.
If your pet has not been on heartworm prevention we strongly recommend you speak to us about a heartworm test prior to starting a prevention program.
Please call us to discuss the best heartworm prevention program for your pet.