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Heartworm Prevention & Gastrointestinal Worm Control

HEARTWORM

 

Heartworm, or Dirofilaria immitis, is a blood-borne parasite that is spread by mosquitoes.

 

Your pet does not need to be in contact with other pets to become infected. A single bite from a carrier mosquito can infect your dog or cat!

 

In early stages of heartworm infection, there may be no visible signs. However, infestation can lead to heart failure. Signs can include reluctance to exercise, lethargy, coughing and even death.

 

Heartworm is present throughout most of Australia (except Tasmania and arid areas). Heartworm disease is easily preventable but risky, difficult and expensive to treat.

 

Monthly and Annual preventative medications are available and should be given from 6-12 weeks of age.

We recommend the yearly injection for dogs. It is a slow-release drug that is completely safe, convenient and cost effective. When administering this injection, we provide a free consultation with our Veterinarian, for any other matters regarding preventative health care.

Combination products given monthly for heartworm prevention and gastrointestinal worm control are also available. These may be in tablet, chewable or 'spot-on' form.

 

 An important point to note: "Allwormer" medication, while successfully controlling gastrointestinal worms, do not offer any protection against heartworm.

If your pet hasn't started heartworm prevention by the age of 7 months, a blood test is recommended to ensure they are not already infected with heartworm. Preventative medication should be commenced immediately.

 

If you would like further information about heartworm prevention, please give us a call.

 

GASTRO INTESTINAL WORMS

 

If you have a pet cat or dog, it is crucial to protect them against gastrointestinal worms. Apart from causing illness to your pets, some species of worms can be transferred to humans, with children under 10 being most at risk.

 

Hookworms  

They can infect animals from the environment through ingestion or skin penetration. They can also be transferred to pups and kittens through their mother's milk

 

Hookworms cause a variety of clinical signs, including weight loss, poor appetite, bloated abdomen, black tar-like diarrhoea, dehydration and lethargy. Severe infections can be fatal.

 

Hookworm can be transmitted to humans.

 

Roundworms

Most of the time, dogs and cats are infested by ingestion of Roundworm eggs in soil or through ingestion of intermediate hosts such as insects, bugs and rodents. Roundworm are also transmitted to puppies across the placenta. Kittens and pups can become infested with roundworm larvae through their mothers’ milk.

 

Roundworms cause a variety of clinical signs, including coughing, diarrhoea, vomiting, bowel obstruction, pneumonia, a dull coat, and a swollen abdomen. Severe infections can be fatal.

 

Roundworms can be transmitted to humans.

 

Whipworm

They only infect dogs when worms are swallowed.

 

Clinical signs include abdominal pain, anorexia, pale eyelids and gums, dehydration, smelly bloody diarrhoea and weight loss. Infection in adult dogs is generally not as serious as infection in puppies, which can be fatal.  Whipworm is a common cause of chronic colitis in dogs.

 

Whipworm rarely transmits to cats or humans.

 

The Common Flea Tapeworm

The Common Flea Tapeworm infects dogs and cats after ingestion of infected fleas. The Taenia Tapeworm infects cats after they eat infected rodents.

 

This tapeworm causes irritation and itching around the anus but is not considered to be a major health risk. Flea control is important to prevent tapeworm infestation.

 

Tapeworm can also infect humans through ingestion of fleas.

 

The Hydatid Tapeworm

Hydatid tapeworm are found in areas where sheep and dogs (or kangaroos and foxes) are in contact. Dogs contract hydatids from eating raw offal of sheep but it rarely causes significant clinical signs in dogs.

 

Hydatid tapeworm can cause life-threatening illness in humans.Humans contract hydatids by swallowing eggs found on the coats and in the faeces of infected dogs.

 

Control of Gastrointestinal Worms in your dog and cat

Regular de-worming of all pets, including puppies, kittens and pregnant bitches/queens, will minimise infestation of your pet and prevent infection of humans.

 

It is also important to maintain a hygienic environment:

 

  • Remove faeces from litter trays and children's sand pits and dispose of thoroughly

  • Clean sleeping areas regularly

  • Feed your dog and cat quality cooked or tinned meat - no offal

  • Always wash your hands after handling your pet and before eating, and remember that it is particularly important for children to be taught this!

  • Do not let pets lick your face

  • Use a complete flea control programme and control other intermediate hosts such as rats and mice

 

De-worming your dog and cat

A wide variety of dog & cat de-worming preparations are available from our Hospital, including basic allwormers and combination medications which incorporate heartworm prevention and flea control.

 

Allwormer preparations should be given every 3-4 months to adult dogs & cats. For dogs in Hydatid areas, allwormers should be given every six weeks. Pregnant or lactating bitches/queens should be treated before mating, 10 days before parturition (birth), then 2 weeks after parturition. Pups & kittens should be de-wormed every 2 weeks from 4 weeks of age ,then monthly until six months of age, then every 3-4 months as for adult pets.

 

If you would like any advice on gastrointestinal worm control in your dog and cat, please don't hesitate to give us a call, or drop in and speak with one of our staff.