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Worms are dangerous, both to our pets and to our family. While it is true that some pets (particularly adult pets) may not
show any outward signs of worms, there still are signs and symptoms you can be on the lookout for which may help you
catch a worm infestation sooner rather than later.
1. Scooting on their bottoms
Although more common in dogs, this can also be seen in cats. If your pet is ‘scooting’ (dragging their bottom along the floor) it could be because of worms or worm eggs irritating the area around the bottom and making your pet feel uncomfortable.
2. Worm eggs in faeces
If you see what looks like grains of rice in your pet’s faeces, this is an indicator of tapeworm. These ‘grains of rice’ are egg-filled segments which are shed as the tapeworm matures. Once out in the environment, the segment dries out and breaks open, releasing eggs into the environment.
3. Diarrhoea and/or vomiting
A worm infestation can cause both of these, which can lead to weight loss and lack of condition. However, diarrhoea and vomiting can also signify other problems, so you should seek veterinary advice if your pet is suffering with either.
4. Change in appetite
Roundworms feed off the stomach contents of your pet, so an increase in appetite could be a sign of worms. Equally, worms can make your pet feel bloated and uncomfortable, leading to loss of appetite. If you notice a change in your pet’s appetite, particularly for an extended period of time, they should be checked by a vet.
5. Abdominal swelling
Moreobvious in kittens or puppies, a heavy intestinal worm infestation can cause bloating leading to a pot-bellied appearance.
6. Lethargic/lack of energy
If your pet is infested with worms, you may find they are less active than usual.
7. Dull coat/lack of condition
Intestinal worms feed off the stomach contents, meaning your pet won’t be getting the correct nutrition. This can cau se your pet’s coat to become dry, dull and could even lead to fur loss.
8. Frequent coughing
Roundworm and lungworm larvae migrating to the lungs can cause coughing.
If your pet is showing symptoms of worms you need to treat them with a vet strength wormer immediately.
Most wormers contain a combination of active ingredients and are formulated to kill most common intestinal worms. These are also known as ‘broad spectrum wormers’. However, some are only designed to target specific types of worms. The age of your pet and their lifestyle (hunter, travelled abroad recently etc.) will impact the type of worm they are likely to have.
You can either choose a broad spectrum wormer or ask your vet for help. If you pet is still showing symptoms of worms after treatment, then you should visit your vet.
Worms are particularly dangerous in kittens and puppies due to their immune system not being fully developed. A serious infestation can cause intestinal blockages which can sometimes lead to death.
The best way to protect your pet is to follow a regular worming treatment programme.
No product on the market can stop your cat or dog from picking up worms, but it is easy to reduce the spread:
Pick up after your dog and empty your cat’s litter tray
Worm eggs in fresh faeces are not infective. Picking up and disposing of any poo as soon as possible will reduce the risk and spread of worms.
Wash your hands after handling poo
This good hygiene practice minimises the spread of bacteria, and reduces the chance of you and others from picking up worms.
Worm your adult cat or dog at least once every three months (kittens and puppies more regularly)
Deworming your cat or dog regularly will help stop a worm infestation from taking hold. If you’d like help keeping track of when to worm your pets, sign up to the Beaphar reminder service, which will send you an email when your pet is due their next worming treatment.
Some prey animals, such as mice, birds and rabbits, can carry worms. If your pet hunts, and you’re concerned they or family are more at risk from worms, speak to your vet or pet retailer. You may be advised to consider worming more often.
Want more advice on which worming product to use? Check out Choosing the right wormer for your cat or dog.