Summer is over, and winter is knocking on our door. We are staying indoors more, and so are our pets. We as veterinary professionals often get asked: why is it important to deworm our pets, even in the winter months? And even if we do not see any worms in their stools?
The answer is: we usually do not see worms in the feces. Only if we have severe infestation with them do we see worms or pieces exiting our pets. A good routine with deworming helps us keep our pets worm free, and healthy. And it protects us as humans, as well.
Here is some short information on different types or worms and what this means for our pets and ourselves:
Roundworms: Those are the worms we are mostly concerned about with young puppies. They can be transmitted already in the womb, or with the mothers’ milk. The life cycle of roundworms can be complicated, but we know that they can also infect humans, and transmission is not depending on direct contact with feces or the animal carrying the parasites. Especially young children and immunocompromised people are at risk. Therefore, it is advisable to deworm dogs regularly.
Hookworms: Just like with roundworms, these worms can affect our pets from the time they are babies. These guys can be contracted by ingesting an infectious egg or even by larvae penetrating the skin, and the adult worms usually live in the intestines of their host, where they feed on the blood of their host. This can lead to anemia in severely infected animals. Here again: these worms can be transmitted to humans, either by ingesting infectious eggs or by larvae penetrating the skin. The good news is that they can be treated readily with the same products we use for roundworms.
Tapeworms: Typically, we think of cats which are hunting and eating mice as carriers of tapeworms, and it is right to want to deworm mousing cats for tapeworms. Recently another tapeworm is also more in the spotlight: Echinococcus, or the fox-tapeworm. While the “usual” tapeworm which affects dogs and cats is gross, echinococcus can be a huge health concern in humans. Echinococcus can affect inner organs (liver, even the brain) where it can form cysts and lead to extensive damage. Fortunately, that seems to be relatively rare, but we want to be proactive and not risk severe health consequences from these critters. Treating tapeworms requires specific medication, which is in several, but not all products, for deworming. These products are generally prescription products.
To sum it up: Deworming our animals regularly is necessary to keep our pets (and ourselves) healthy and free of parasites. We can help you find the right products and the right regimen for your pets.