Heartworm mainly affects dogs. It is a serious and potentially fatal disease spread by infected mosquitoes so even if your dog lives alone it can still be come infected with the parasite. Adult heartworm lives within the heart and blood vessels of the lungs, it eventually causes severe heart and respiratory disease. Many dogs with early heartworm infection appear normal. Heartworm can be treated although prevention is much safer than treatment – damage already inflicted by the heartworms cannot be reversed.
We recommend that all dogs be on prevention from their first vaccination. There are many products on the market that prevent heartworm including monthly tablets, topical preparations or a yearly injection. Ask one of our vets to see which product would be most suited to your pet.
Intestinal worms affect all dogs and cats. The 4 main types in dogs are roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm. Cats mainly get 3 types; roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Signs associated with worm infection include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, potbelly, weight loss, scooting, pale gums or anemia and a poor or dull coat. You may not realise your dog or cat has worms until dead worms are passed in their droppings after worming.
Puppies and kittens tend to have the largest burdens which puts them at serious health risk. Roundworm can infect young via the placenta even before they are born, worms can also be passed from mother to her babies via the milk. Worm control is important not only for the health of your pet, but also for the protection of your family. Roundworm, hookworm and the hydatid tapeworm can all affect humans, particularly children and in rare cases can even cause blindness.
Ingestion of eggs via soil (or sandpits) contaminated with droppings is the main route of infection. Hookworm can also migrate through the skin. Faeces should be removed from the garden (not hosed in), do not feed offal and all dogs and cats should be regularly wormed.
The worming of puppies and kittens should begin from 2 weeks of age and continue fortnightly until 12 weeks of age. Monthly worming is recommended until your pup or kitten is 6 months old. All dogs and cats older than 6 months should be wormed every 3 months.