Intestinal Worms aren’t the most pleasant topic, but every pet owner should be aware of them – along with the other nasty worms Aussie dogs & cats get and the Myths around them.

So you can take the necessary steps to ensure your pet (and your hooman family) are protected from these slimy, wriggly parasites.

The good news, most worm infestations can be prevented and if infested, properly treated.

Additional to Intestinal Worms, it’s good know about the wide range of worms including “Roundworm, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Lung Worms”. Then there’s and the one you really want to avoid, “Heartworm.” You can read more about Heartworm here.

When it comes to Worms, here are the top 5 myths:

Myth 1: Indoors pets don’t get worms.

Pets can catch worms anywhere, from paddocks, parks to backyards and beaches.

Worms are carried by wildlife, insects and regularly turn up in undercooked or raw meat.

Cats and dogs however, most commonly get worms from contact with infected faeces (or where faeces was).

Pets can also pick up worms like Intestinal Worms by swallowing microscopic eggs, and some worms can even infect pets by directly penetrating their skin, or transferred in the bite of an insect like a mosquito.

Pets (especially cats) that hunt and eat animals including lizards, mice and birds or scavenge animal carcasses are at higher risk of many intestinal worms.

Myth 2: My pet doesn’t scratch their bum, so they don’t have worms.

There’s a commonly held belief that when a dog rubs its bottom along the ground (so-called sledging or scooting), the most likely cause is worms.

In fact, worms rarely cause this type of itchiness and there are dozens of other common causes of scooting. Some worms don’t even affect the digestive tract.

For example, a lungworm infection can be a serious health problem, especially for cats. They can become infected after eating snails, slugs, rodents, birds or small reptiles.

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Myth 3: I can’t catch Intestinal worms (or others) from my pet.

It would be nice if that were true, but sadly it’s not!

A “zoonosis” is a disease that can be transferred from animals to humans, and when it comes to worms, children are most at risk.

Children are often in closest contact with pets that can be contaminated with worms or worm eggs. If larvae end up in the brain or eye of a child, there can be very serious consequences.

Make sure everyone washes their hands after playing with a pet and before eating. Cover sandpits to prevent animals from using them as a toilet, and remove poo from the yard. Most importantly, treat all of your pets regularly with an intestinal wormer.

Myth 4: Puppys and kittens don’t get worms.

Most worms come from the environment, but puppies and kittens can get worms from their mom – even before birth or by feeding on mother’s milk.

Puppies and kittens also have a reduced immune system. Their bodies simply can’t fight off these worms like adult animals can. So ensuring they are wormed is essential.

Myth 5: My pet’s poo doesn’t have worms, so they’re fine.

Most pets with worms Intestinal Worms, will not poop out the adults, just the eggs or larval forms – which we often can’t even see.

We should note: Almost all dogs and cats will have some level of worms. A small number of worms in the gut of a healthy dog or cat can show no external symptoms. They may however still be pooping out eggs and infecting the surrounding environment.

If they are vomiting or having diarrhoea due to worms, that means that there is a very high amount of worms and therefore we are seeing symptoms in these particular patients.

What you can do to prevent Intestinal worms.

  • Clean kennels and your pet’s bedding regularly.
  • Control pests that harbour worms including snails, slugs, mice, rats and fleas.
  • Regularly remove poo from gardens and kitty litter trays.
  • Avoid feeding your pet raw meat or offal.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after playing with your pet and before eating.
  • Cover your sandpit if you have one.
  • Treat your pets regularly with a veterinary grade wormer.

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