This article looks at the most common worms that affect cats and dogs, how they reproduce, what affects they have on your pet, what signs to look for, and what natural remedy Natural Pet has to effectively help your cat and dog with worm burden.
Worms can cause many problems with pets, some can be mild while others can be severe and even life threatening. Below are detailed some of the most common worms:
Tapeworm Dipylidium caninum
A cestode flat worm that consists of a head and segments. It attaches onto the intestine of it host and absorbs nutrient through the skin. They can grow up to 20cm long.
Each tapeworm is made up of many segments, the head has 6 rows of teeth with suckers and muscular grooves which is how it attaches to the intestine of the animal. They do not contain a digestive system, but simply absorb nutrients from their host through their skin. Each new segment grows from the head end, with the more mature ones being at the end of the tapeworm. Each segment contains its own female and male reproductive organs, so can produce large amount of eggs. Segments break off from the tapeworms that contain eggs, these eggs are passed through the faeces, and land in the pet’s environment where they are eaten by flea larvae. As the flea larvae develops and turns into an adult flea the tapeworm also continues to develop. When grooming or biting a flea irritated bit of skin the pet will ingest the flea with the tapeworm inside it, then the life cycle starts again. Flea control in an important part of breaking the tapeworm life cycle.
Clinical signs include: failure to grow or do well, irritability, increased appetite, dull coat, stomach upset / colic and diarrhoea.
The most common worm found in young cats and dogs, there are two species: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina. The adult round worm live in the small intestine of the cat and dog, where they produce their eggs, a single female can lay anything from 100,000 to 200,000 eggs a day. These eggs are passed out through the pets faeces where they can survive for up to 10 years in the environment.
Cats and dogs can become infected in several different ways. Puppies and kittens can get round worm from their mothers as the larvae can travel through the placenta and can also come through the milk. It can be eaten from the environment, the pet picking up something outside and also eating a host that is infected such as a bird, mouse, and opossum.
Puppies and kittens under the age of 6 months are most at risk, once an animal has passed 6 months of age they tend to build up a natural immunity to the worm. In the adult animal they travel to parts of the body and encyst, and no longer show clinical signs of worm infestation. They lay dormant here till the female animal becomes pregnant, where they hatch and cross the placenta to infect the young.
Once the round worm eggs are in the intestine they hatch into larvae which penetrates the intestinal wall. They travel through the hepatic vein to the pet’s liver, where they spend the next 7-10 days feasting. They then continue their journey to the lungs, where they spend another 14-21 days feasting there. It is here where the most damage is done, the liver can regenerate but the lungs can become permanently damaged, as when they heal they produce scar tissue.
Once they have finished here they penetrate the lung wall into the air sack. Once in the alveoli they travel to the bronchioles, then on to the bronchi, and then the trachea, here they cause irritation and make the animal cough, so they are thrown into the back of the throat, where they are re-swallowed back into the stomach as mature adults to start the cycle again.
In young puppies round worm can cause a rupture to the bowel if untreated.
Clinical signs are coughing and nasal discharge, weight loss, a rounded belly, bloating, diahorrea and vomiting.
A blood sucking parasite that lives and breeds in the intestinal tract of dogs and cats. The main hookworms are Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense for dogs and Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Ancylostoma braziliense for cats.
They affect both young and adult cats and dogs with puppies and kittens becoming infected in three different ways: infection within the mother pre-birth, infection from the mother mammary glands at feeding and also infection from faeces in the bedding passed on from their infected other siblings. For adult cats and dogs: larvae penetrating the skin from the ground, which is usually though the feet or stomach, when soil is ingested from the ground during feeding or grooming or ingesting a rodent or bird that is infected with hookworm.
Transmission: For puppies this is from the mother, the hookworm larvae lay dormant in the bitch and hormonal changes around whelping awaken the worms, where they will migrate to the unborn foetus and also the mammary glands. It can be transmitted to humans where it can cause the skin disease cutaneous larval migrans.
Eggs are passed through the faeces. Once they have developed to stage 3 they are ready to infect their new host, which can be from several ways. Once entry has been gained into the host, they travel to the intestinal tract, where some will stay while others penetrate the intestinal wall and travel to the lungs where they develop into the 4th stage. At this stage some will become dormant waiting to be activated later. They will then travel out of the lungs and up the trachea, where they are coughed up and swallowed back into the intestine, once back here they will sucker on to the wall and develop into adults. They spend most of their time here and reproduce, where eggs are passed out in the faeces and the cycle starts again. The life cycle takes 15-20 days from first infection.
They have 6 sharp teeth that bite into the intestinal wall of their host and suck blood. It has been estimated that a single worm can drink at much as 0.1 ml in a 24 hours period. They have an anticoagulant in their saliva so the blood does not clot and they have free flow feeding, once the worm moves, the site can continue to bleed and ulcerate.
Being a blood sucker this is where puppies are more at risk, as growing puppies need to produce lots of red blood cells for bone marrow and growth, with the hookworm depleting these resources it can be fatal to the puppy.
Clinical signs include: iron deficiency is the main characteristic sign of hookworm infection, but they can also sho weakness, emaciation, diarrhoea, inability to do well.
What can you do to help?
Worming and fleaing your pet regularly will help reduce the worm burden. Having a well-balanced natural diet, adding apple cider vinegar to feed, regular exercise, and a happy stress free life style will help your animal.
Natural Pets cat and dog range Tagiwig has a homeopathic and herbal worming remedy called Wiggles, which has been designed specifically for cats and dogs internal parasite complaints. It has the common worm repelling remedies plus also worm species specific nosodes.
All worming should be done around the full moon, as this is when the worms are at their most active and you will get a better expulsion rate.