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Worming

wormingWorming is an important part of your pet’s health care programme. Approximately 80% of Australia’s dogs and 75% of Australia’s cats carry intestinal worms. This is not surprising when you consider that some worms can produce thousands of eggs per day and some eggs can survive up to 5 years in the ground! At Gordon Vet Hospital we recommend regular worming of dogs and cats.

Dogs

There are 2 broad categories of worms to eliminate and prevent –

  • Heartworm
  • Gastrointestinal worms (stomach and intestinal worms)
Heartworm Disease
What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm (Dirofilaria immitis) that lives in the arteries of the heart in the dog (the natural host). Over time, these worms grow in the heart and the dog can accumulate many heartworms, which act like a blockage and cause the heart not to function properly. This leads to congestive heart failure, which is a life threatening problem and can be fatal.

How can my dog catch heartworm?

Dogs catch heartworm disease via mosquitoes that have fed on an infected dog. The heartworm larvae (microfilaria) are carried in the mouthparts of mosquitoes and transmitted via a mosquito bite. Your dog does not have to be in direct contact with an infected dog to catch the disease.

How do I prevent heartworm disease?

The easiest way to prevent heartworm disease is via an annual injection called Proheart SR-12. At Gordon Vet Hospital we give the first heartworm injection at the time of desexing (6 months of age). It is then administered every year at the same time as the annual health check and booster pet vaccinations. At any stage, a dog can change from a monthly preventative to a yearly Proheart injection. Before a puppy reaches 6 months of age we recommend using Milbemax tablets monthly for heartworm prevention.

Is there a safe treatment for dogs that develop heartworm disease?

Unfortunately once a dog has congestive heart failure from heartworm disease, the prognosis is poor. These dogs are very sick and treatment itself is risky because to kill the worms that are living in the heart can cause blockages elsewhere in the body as the dead worms move around the bloodstream. Usually treatment is aimed at controlling the heart failure with medication and stabilisation rather than removing the parasites.

Gastrointestinal Worms
Should I be worried about worms in my dog?

Many puppies are born with roundworms and others are infected with worms through their mother’s milk. This can seriously affect the health of your puppy and is a risk to humans, especially young children. Puppies love to lick children’s faces and hands and worm eggs and larvae can be swallowed by children leading to nasty diseases such as hydatid cysts in the internal organs or even blindness (uncommon). So from a health and hygiene perspective, treating worms regularly is very important.

What re the main intestinal worms?
  • Roundworms (Toxocara canis)
  • Hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum)
  • Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis)
  • Hydatid Tapeworms (Echinococcus granulosus)
  • Common Flea Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum)

Most worms are transmitted from dog to dog via the faeco-oral route, which means through licking other dogs’ bottoms or eating other dog’s faeces.

The Hydatid tapeworm can infect your pet via uncooked meat (particularly offal), so it is best to avoid feeding offal to dogs.

What is the best worming regime in dogs?

We recommend that puppies be wormed according to the following regime:

  • Every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age
  • Then monthly until 6 months of age
  • Then every 3 months for life in adult dogs

In dogs that travel frequently to the country, worming every 6 weeks with an intestinal all-wormer in adult dogs is recommended.

What wormers do you recommend?

Gordon Veterinary Hospital recommends the following intestinal worming products:

  • Milbemax Dog – This covers against intestinal worms when given every 3 months. We use it in puppies before the Proheart Injection is started.
  • Drontal – A chewable tablet given every 3 months
  • Advocate –A topical product (liquid applied to the back of the neck) for owners that do not like tablets. It covers against heartworm and fleas as well as intestinal worms (except tapeworm).

Cats

What are the common intestinal worms found in cats?
  • Roundworms (Toxocara cati, Toxascaris leonina)
  • Hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme, Uncinaria stenocephala, Ancylostoma braziliense)
  • Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum)
What is the best worming regime in cats?

We recommend that kittens are wormed according to the following regime:

  • Every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age
  • Then monthly until 6 months of age
  • Then every 3 months for life in adult cats
What wormers do you recommend?

Gordon Veterinary Hospital recommends the following intestinal worming products:

Milbemax Cat This is a small flavoured tablet

Profender – This is a topical product (liquid applied to the back of the neck) and is a great alternative for cats that are difficult to give a tablet to.

Is heartworm disease in cats significant?

Heartworm disease in cats in Sydney is rare. The natural host for heartworm is the dog but when heartworm disease does occur in cats, it is quite often fatal due to their smaller pulmonary artery size. Due to the few cases seen in Sydney we currently do not routinely recommend heartworm prevention in cats.

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