Price From
Other Filters

Worms in Cats and Dogs

Worms in Cats and Dogs

This article looks at the most common worms that affect cats and dogs, how they reproduce, what impacts they have on your pet, what worms in dogs and cats symptoms to look for, and what natural remedies Natural Pet has to help with worms in dogs and cats.

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 flatworm consists of a head and segments. It attaches to the intestine of its host and absorbs nutrients through the skin. They can grow up to 20cm long. 

Each tapeworm comprises many segments, and the head has six rows of teeth with suckers and muscular grooves, which is how it attaches to the animal's intestine. They do not contain a digestive system but absorb nutrients from their host through their skin. Each new segment grows from the head end, with the more mature ones at the tapeworm's end. Each segment contains its female and male reproductive organs and will produce large amounts of eggs. Segments break off from the tapeworms containing eggs, and these eggs pass through the faeces and land in the pet's environment, where flea larvae eat them. As the flea larvae develop and become adult fleas, the tapeworm also grows. When grooming or biting an area of flea-irritated skin, the pet will ingest the flea with the tapeworm inside it, and then the life cycle starts again. Flea control is an essential part of breaking the tapeworm life cycle.

Clinical signs and symptoms 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 roundworm lives in the small intestine, producing its eggs. A single female can lay anything from 100,000 to 200,000 eggs a day. These eggs then pass out through the pet's faeces, where they can survive for up to 10 years in the environment.

Cats and dogs can become infected in several different ways. For example, puppies and kittens can get roundworms from their mothers as the larvae can travel through the placenta and can also come through the milk. In addition, they can be ingested from the environment, the pet picking up something outside and eating an infected host, such as a bird, mouse, or 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 pet, the worm travels to parts of the body and encyst and no longer shows 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 roundworm eggs are in the intestine, they hatch into larvae which penetrate the intestinal wall. Next, they travel through the hepatic vein to the pet's liver, spending the next 7-10 days feasting. They then continue their journey to the lungs and spend another 14-21 days eating. 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 in the lungs, they penetrate the lung wall into the air sack (alveoli). They then travel to the bronchioles and the bronchi, and then on to the trachea, where they cause irritation and make the animal cough, so they are pushed up 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, roundworm can cause a rupture to the bowel if untreated. 

Clinical signs and symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • nasal discharge
  • weight loss
  • a rounded belly
  • bloating
  • diarrhoea 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, Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Ancylostoma braziliense for cats.

They affect both young and adults, with puppies and kittens becoming infected in three ways: infection within the mother pre-birth, infection from the mother's mammary glands at feeding and infection from faeces in the bedding, passed on from their infected siblings. For adult cats and dogs: larvae penetrating the skin from the ground, usually through the feet or stomach, when soil is ingested from the environment during feeding or grooming or ingesting a rodent or bird infected with hookworm.

Transmission for puppies 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 the mammary glands. It can be transmitted to humans, where it can cause the skin disease of 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 an 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, which is coughed up and swallowed back into the intestine. Once back here, they will sucker onto 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 the first infection.

They have six sharp teeth that bite into the intestinal wall of their host and suck blood. It has been estimated that a single worm can drink as much as 0.1 ml in 24 hours. They have an anticoagulant in their saliva, so the blood does not clot, and they have free-flow feeding. However, once the worm moves, the site can bleed and ulcerate. 

Being a bloodsucker, puppies are more at risk, as growing puppies need to produce many red blood cells for bone marrow and growth. With the hookworm depleting these resources, it can be fatal.

Clinical signs and symptoms include: 

  • iron deficiency (the main characteristic sign of hookworm infection)
  • weakness
  • emaciation
  • diarrhoea
  • inability to thrive

What can you do to help?

Worm and flea your pet regularly will help reduce the worm burden. In addition, having a well-balanced natural diet, adding apple cider vinegar to feed, regular exercise, and a happy, stress-free lifestyle will help your animal.

Natural Pets cat and dog range Tagiwig has two remedies to help with dog and cat worming your pets.

Wiggles is a homeopathic and herbal

Wiggles (Hom) is homeopathic only

Both have 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 most active, and you will get a better expulsion rate. Check out our Worming Your Pets and Animals Naturally article to learn more. 

Tags: Cats  Dogs  Tagiwig  Worms  

Posted: Thursday 13 January 2022