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Worm Control

Key Guidelines in Strategic Deworming

Puppies and Kittens:  From 2 weeks of age

                               Treat every 2 weeks to 10 weeks

                               Then monthly to 6 months

All dogs and cats over 6 months:  Treat every 3-4 months

Bitches and Queens:  Treat Before Mating

                              Treat 10 days before young are born

                              Treat concurrently with young until after                                 weaning

We now recommend treating all dogs with Program Plus monthly. This is a flea control that also contains the dewormer milbemycin. This will control all roundworms and has an effect against Spirocerca. Then use a complete dewormer twice a year to control tapeworm.

World Of Worms

Worms can infest your pet without you realising it.

Very young or old animals that are infested, or animals with heavy worm burdens may be unwell. They can have a poor coat, lose weight, become lethargic and have bloated abdomens. They can suffer diarrhoea and vomiting, pneumonia and even life threatening intestinal obstructions. Young, otherwise healthy animals with just a few worms may not show any outward ill effects. However these animals are reservoirs of infection allowing worms to continue their life cycle and pass eggs, contaminating the environment, infecting other dogs and cats, posing a public health risk.

There are 2 main classes of worms that infect dogs and cats. Roundworm and Tapeworm.

Roundworms include Ascarids, Hookworm , Spirocera and whipworms. The most common are the toxocara species. The adult worm live in the gut of the host animal and pass eggs which are shed into the environment in the animals faeces. Pets will ingest these eggs when they are sniffing about where other cats and dogs have been. They can also ingest eggs if they eat earthworms, birds or mice that are harbouring the larvae. Once the egg is swallowed it will hatch into a larva which burrows through the wall of the gut and migrates around the body of the host going through several stages of development as it does. In pregnant bitches these migrating larvae will cross the placenta and infect unborn puppies, hence the reason why it is said that all puppies are "born with worms". The matured larvae eventually end up back in the gut as adult worms which will lay more eggs and so the whole cycle starts again. This cycle can take only 3 weeks to complete so it is possible for many eggs to build up in the environment very quickly. Nursing bitches and queens will pass the larvae to puppies and kittens by their milk and also will be re- infected themselves when they are licking their puppies and kittens to clean them.

It is these migrating larvae of the dog roundworm( Toxocara Canis) that pose a public health risk. If children ingest the eggs then they can hatch and start migrating around the body as they would in a dog. In most cases this wouldn't cause a problem and the human immune system can easily deal with them, but occasionally the larvae can migrate to the eye and cause blindness. This is why it is very important to worm dogs regularly to stop them from passing worm eggs and also to clear up dog faeces especially from public places. Roundworm eggs are very tough and can survive in the environment for several years.

Hookworms Are found in the small intestine of dogs and cats. They live on the host’s blood and tissue and on leaving the site of feeding to find a new location, the old site continues to seep blood. This leads to serious anaemia which can be fatal especially in young animals. Pale mucous membranes, dark tarry, bloody faeces are common signs of severe hookworm infestations. Other symptoms often include poor physical condition, dull hair coat, loss of weight, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Spirocerca Lupi

Spirocerca is a nematode that forms a nodule if the pets oesophageous. This often becomes cancerous and causes problems swallowing.

A common scenario would be that a worm produces eggs which are excreted with faeces.  A dung beetle would ingest worm eggs while working with and rolling these infected faeces.  The eggs hatch, releasing larvae, which mature to the infective stage within the beetle.

A dog may then eat the intermediate hosts, such as a bird or beetle, thereby ingesting the larvae.

Once the dog has eaten a beetle or other intermediary carrying larvae of Spirocerca lupi,  the larvae are released within the dog's stomach during the digestive process.

The larvae reach the aorta (the main artery in body) via small arteries that drain the stomach. In the main artery they mature, a process which takes about three months, after which they pass through the wall of the artery into the wall of the oesophagus.  

In the oesophagus wall they form a swelling, known as a granuloma,  in which the worms live. As the worms grow bigger the granuloma grows bigger. This growth can result in pressure on the windpipe, pressure on the aorta and occlusion of the oesophagus.

Tapeworms are the other main class of worms affecting pets. Their lifecycle is different to the roundworms. The adult worms live in the small intestine and grow up to 5 metres in length. Tapeworms cannot be passed directly from one animal to another but have to develop in another 'intermediate' host. The flea tapeworm, as its name suggests, develops in the fleas which live on dogs and cats . The adult worm in the small intestine will pass small egg packets that look like grains of rice . These can be seen moving and are found around the fur on a pets bottom, in the litter tray or where they sleep. These egg packets dry out and release hundreds of microscopic eggs which are eaten by flea larvae in the environment. When infected flea larvae hatches into an adult flea it is infected with an immature tapeworm. Dogs and cats, whilst they are grooming themselves , will swallow some of the fleas and then the tapeworm will be released from the flea and grow to adult size in the animals gut. Within 3 weeks it can be shedding egg packets of its own. Other species of tapeworm will develop inside mice and rabbits and so cats that hunt are particularly susceptible to tapeworm infections.

In order to control tapeworm it is necessary to worm cats and dogs regularly and to control fleas too.

There are various ways of worming pets. Tablets, liquids, pastes and granules are the usual way wormers are administered. Most preparations are dosed according to bodyweight so it is helpful to know your pets approximate weight when buying medication. Some preparations are one-off, all-in-one doses that will eliminate all commonly found worms. Other preparations require that a course of treatment be followed sometimes with 2 different types of tablet.

We recommend that adult dogs and cats are wormed every 3-4 months but they can be done in the interim if they are exposed to a lot of worms or are seen to be passing any. Cats are notorious for not taking tablets so if your cat is one of these then a nurse appointment can be booked at the surgery so that the wormer can be administered there free of charge. Failing that we can advise you on alternative methods of worming.

Puppies and kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks from about 2 weeks of age until they are 10 weeks old. Then they should be wormed monthly until 6 months old. There are special worming preparations suitable for very young puppies and kittens and it is particularly important that they be weighed to calculate a dose.

Please phone the surgery to discuss your pets specific worming requirements. The nurses and vets will be happy to advise you.