Intestinal worms are divided into two main categories, Roundworm and Tapeworm. The Roundworm group includes the following sub-groups: Ascarids (sometimes just called Roundworm), Hookworm and Whipworm.
The great outdoors. It's where your pet can run like the wind, explore and discover… eww… these little horrors:
Some types of adult female worms can produce
eggs per day
Slide to see the length that worms can reach while in the gut
Watch out! Worms can be bad news for humans too
Don’t be alarmed though, as this is rare. Humans can accidentally swallow the eggs of the Toxocara Roundworm in a variety of ways. For example, eggs can remain in the soil and enter your house on your shoes or on wheels. Also, your pet can pass eggs to you by licking your hands or face after grooming itself. To help reduce the risk, ensure you keep up your pet's regular de-worming and always responsibly dispose of your pet’s poos.
One of the most worrying human risks comes from the Roundworm – Toxocara. Disease is not common, however it can be devastating where it does occur, as larvae can migrate within body tissues and in extreme cases have reached the eye causing blindness.
Hover over the hotspots to reveal just some of the ways your pet can become infected with worms
Even your pet's puppies aren't safe from a nasty worm infection. Some worms can lie dormant in muscle tissue until your pet becomes pregnant. Then they'll travel through the uterus or through your pet's teat and into her milk. Almost all puppies are infected by Roundworm in this way.
Some Tapeworms use fleas to get to your pet, because flea larvae eat worm eggs. A larval Tapeworm then forms inside the developing flea, which your pet can swallow. This is why it's so important to regularly 'de-flea' your pet, as well as 'de-worm'.
Once it starts to break down, poo from an infected animal – including your own pet – blends into the soil. Here worm eggs can lay dormant for over a year and be accidentally swallowed by your pet.
Mice, birds and even sheep either caught or discovered by your pet can present a risk. This is because worm eggs or worm larvae can be found in these animals, which your pet may find and feed on.
In the early stages of a worm infection, your pet may show few, if any noticeable signs of infection. But, if the infection is left untreated, you may notice the following:
An advanced worm infection can make your pet feel bloated and may put them off their food.
Because worms can cause your pet to become malnourished, they can also cause a dull coat. However, this can also be down to fleas or a poor diet.
If your pet appears to be washing its bottom more than usual, this may be down to itching caused by a worm infection.
Diarrhoea due to a worm infection is particularly common in puppies and kittens.
Scooting is when a pet drags its bottom along the ground. This can be caused by an advanced Tapeworm infection as the segments passing through the pet's anus cause itching.
Some worm infestations can cause vomiting, with worms sometimes visible in the vomit.
A pot-bellied appearance due to worms is particularly common in puppies and kittens.
It is important to remember that, in many cases, your pet may have none of these symptoms and still have a worm infection. Usually the worms will remain hidden in your pet's gut and they will not be visible in your pet's poo.
Once they've found their way into the gut, parasitic worms will survive by feeding on the contents of your pet's gut or sucking on your pet's blood. Left untreated, they can be a serious health risk. That's why it's so important to treat your pet at least every three months.
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Last updated: January 2019