It’s important that your pets are protected against all the ‘worms’ that can infect them. Here’s a little more information about the worms that we routinely medicate against, and what we can do to prevent your pets getting sick!
These parasites live in your pet’s gut, and can broadly be categorised as being either whipworms, tapeworms, roundworms or hookworms. They all infect your pet in similar ways:
Another type of ‘worm’ we worry about in Hong Kong is heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis). This parasite is different to those mentioned above: It’s actually a filarial organism and is spread when your pet is bitten by a mosquito. The adult heartworm lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries.
Is my Pet Infected?
The symptoms depend on the parasite:
- Whipworms can cause diarrhoea, which may be bloody or contain mucus. If infestation is severe then your pet may become anaemic and lose weight.
- Tapeworms can cause weight loss and vomiting, but infection is often asymptomatic and the only sign might be the passing of segments in the faeces.
- Roundworms most commonly cause signs in puppies and kittens, and may result in diarrhoea and vomiting. It’s important to realise that these worms can infect humans, and may cause blindness.
- Hookworms can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, weight loss and coughing in your pet. They feed on blood, so can cause anaemia.
- Heartworm causes damage to the lungs, and therefore results in symptoms such as coughing, exercise intolerance, breathing difficulties and collapse, as well as nose bleeds and fluid in the abdomen.
Prevention and Cure
It’s easy and affordable to prevent your pets becoming infected with these parasites:
Intestinal worm prevention:
- It is recommended that puppies and kittens are dewormed every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then monthly until the age of 6 months, then every 3-4 months for dogs and outdoor cats, or every 6 months for indoor cats.
- It’s important to remember to keep up to date with other preventative medicine as well, such as flea prevention, as some worms are transmitted by fleas.
Intestinal worm treatment：
- If your pet is already infected with worms, this can be treated by giving deworming medication in additional to other supportive medication as necessary.
- Once treatment is finished, faecal samples are checked to ensure the worms are completely eliminated.
- This is achieved with a monthly tablet, given from 5 months of age.
- Once your pet is fully grown, there is also the option to prevent infection with an injection that is given once a year.
- A confirmed case of heartworm is treated with antibiotics, steroids and a course of 3 injections.
- Additional medications may also be given depending on the severity of symptoms.
Prevention is much better than cure, so don’t forget to keep up to date with these medications!
Credit : Dr. Nick Smith