Worms and your pet

dog with toy
dog with toy

Animals have worms. Often people do too. What's more, we can easily get worms from animals. Not such a nice thought while you're watching Fido play with your two-year-old on the lawn.

Right. When you buy that fluffy bundle, there are also certain rather less romantic responsibilities, such as deworming and house training.

The questions and answers below come from the Cybervet forum – and these ones are all about worms.

My vet says my dog has giardia. What is this?
Giardia is a protozoal infection of the intestine. Dogs first get it from other dogs, or from stagnant water. It is quite contagious, especially in poor hygienic conditions. It can also be quite difficult to get rid of the parasite, as no drug is 100% effective. It can be transmitted to people, but you will need to have had contact with animal stools. It results in abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhoea in people. It cannot be prevented by vaccination.

How can I avoid getting worms from my pet?
The most important control measure following treatment is absolute hygiene and picking up of stools. Any stagnant water should also be removed. Watch what your children are doing when they are playing outside with the pets. Don't let dogs lick you in the face – you don't know where that tongue has been.

What sort of de-worming product should I use?
One will need to make sure that the de-worming products used are in fact broad spectrum. The common supermarket type of de-worming products will not necessarily kill all worms. It should generally not be necessary to de-worm dogs more than two to four times a year with an effective broad-spectrum de-wormer.

My cat is getting thinner. Could it have worms?
It is best you take your cat to the vet, or to an animal welfare society or the SPCA for vaccinations and de-worming. You owe this to your cats, and it is available to those people that cannot afford regular private veterinary services. It is definitely possible that your cat can have worms, and it may cause no symptoms or it may cause vomiting, diarrhoea or weight loss.

My dogs eat faeces. How can I prevent this?
You can't watch your dogs all the time. You might have to muzzle them with a big open box muzzle, so they can breathe properly if the problem persists. Unfortunately dogs are scavengers and will jump at the opportunity for anything that is remotely disgusting to consume. Dogs can easily pick up worms in this manner. It is best to de-worm them every three months – for their safety – and yours.

When should my puppy be vaccinated and dewormed?
Your puppy should get its first injection at 6 weeks, the second one a month thereafter and the third one another month later. Every time the puppy is vaccinated, it can be de-wormed. After that the puppy will need annual vaccinations and de-worming every three to six months. Your puppy should be eating three-to-four meals per day. Food bought from your vet is probably best for your puppy.

(Compiled by Susan Erasmus, Health24)

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