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October 2014: Get Worm Wise This Winter

Just the mere mention of the word ‘deworming’ conjures up unpleasant images in most pet owner’s minds; and for good reason too!  Worms, more specifically gastrointestinal worms and heartworms, can pose a serious and sinister threat to our pets.  With winter just around the corner, we take a look at how to recognise a worm infestation, how to identify worms and the best way to reduce your pet’s risk of catching worms.

Recognising Infection
Worms are almost inevitable in dogs so knowing what to look for and how to treat them is important for your dog’s health.  Most worm infestations can cause any or all of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in your pets stool
  • Weight loss despite a good appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormally swollen stomach

Some gastrointestinal infestations also cause few or no symptoms.  In fact, some worm eggs or larvae can be dormant in your dog’s body and activated only in times of stress, or in the case of roundworms, until the latter stages of pregnancy, when they activate and infest soon-to-be born puppies.  As most puppies are born with worms, they should be treated for worms at two, four, six, eight and twelve weeks of age; then every three months for life with an all-wormer.  For puppies use Canex Puppy Suspension, followed by either Drontal Plus, Popantel or Canex Multispectrum Wormer for dogs; every three months.


The biggest problem for pet owners in terms on non-intestinal worms is heartworms.  Heartworms are parasites that live in the blood and adjacent blood cells of a dogs heart.  They can grow from 10-30cm in length, reach maturation at around 6-7 months after infection and live in your pet for up to seven years!  Early signs of heartworm infection can be easy to miss and as a result it is often not until the infection becomes severe that it is caught.  The good news is that most dogs with heartworm can be succesfully treated by using one treatments including Heartgard Plus, Proheart, Valueheart or Advocate.

Worm Identification
Hookworm:  Similar to a hook in shape; whitish grey in colour.  One of the most dangerous of all intestinal parasites. It can be transmitted from mothers to puppies before birth or through suckling. It may be detected by the level of your puppies’ lethargy, anaemia, poor appetite and black tarlike stools that contains blood. 


Tapeworm: Can infect a dog when it eats its larvae from a host animal, such as a flea or a mouse. There are no obvious symptoms, but small, rice-like segments can be found around the pet’s anus or in the puppies stool. Mature tapeworms cause your puppy to eat more than normal, but with no weight gain.

Whipworm:  Very thin at the front and thick at the back whipworms have a mouth structured like a spear which punctures the wall of your pet’s large intestine so they can feed on the animal’s blood, causing dehydration, anaemia and diarrhoea.


Roundworm: Growing up to 15cm long and resembling a piece of string, roundworm can be contracted via infected poo or dirt. Living in the small intestine, these worms may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, a pot-bellied appearance and lethargy.  Can cause respiratory disease, sometimes death, in puppies.


Reducing the Risk
Pets can pick up worms from other infected animals, from eating the larvae or eggs of worms or from eating raw meat, infected prey animals or infected parasites.  It’s also important to know that some worms that infect and reinfect dogs can also infect humans; so treatment and eradication of the worms in the environment is important.  Here are some handy hints on how to help prevent worm infestations:

  • Stop soil contamination by picking up your dogs faeces when out and about.
  • Try and minimise your pet’s ingestion of snails and slugs and try to avoid exposing them to stray animals or dead rodents, which often can harbour immature tapeworms that can mature inside your dog.
  • Keep your pet away from faeces; his own as well as others. This is one of the most common means of worm infestation.
  • Monthly flea control and treatment is very important because fleas are commonly responsible for the spread of tapeworms.
  • Maintain an effective worm control program.  Canex Multispectrum Wormer for Dogs is popular among pet owners and treats all gastrointestinal worms.  If looking for combination treatments try Heartgard Plus; effective for treating heartworms, hookworms and roundworms while Advocate treats most gastrointestinal worms plus heartworm.


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