There are a few simple things you can do to ensure your pet stays healthy and happy. Worming and vaccination are two of the most important parts of pet ownership, both to protect your furry family member and your human family.
Why worm your pet?
Some worms such as tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms don’t just infect pets, they can also infect people, and particularly at risk are children. Handwashing after playing with pets and before eating is important, as well as after removing faeces from the backyard. A regular intestinal wormer will protect everyone in the family too. Roundworms can lay 20,000 eggs at a time, so big problems can develop quickly if your pet misses a dose.
How do I know if my pet has worms?
Worms tend to cause weight loss, decreased ability to absorb nutrients and protein and sometimes diarrhoea. Puppies that have worms tend to have a large bloated belly. Most of the time you won’t know your pet has worms until you give them a worming treatment, then you might see a few dead worms in the faeces. Tapeworms though tend to shed little segments that you might notice and appear as ‘grains of rice’ on faeces.
What about heartworm?
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, so even pets that rarely go outdoors can be affected by heartworm. The disease is easy to prevent, but difficult and costly to treat, mostly because it tends to be diagnosed only after significant damage has occurred to the heart. A dog that has heartworm might not show any signs until they start coughing up blood!
If your pet hasn’t received a heartworm preventative, consider a heartworm test before giving anything for heartworm as a heartworm positive dog can have a huge reaction to heartworm preventatives if the disease is already present. Early detection of heartworm is also more likely to be successfully treated.
Should my pet be vaccinated?
Vaccination is about preventing diseases that can be prevented. There are now some vaccines that cover your pet for 3 years. Although canine cough (kennel cough) and leptospirosis (if present in your area) still need yearly boosters, a bit like the human flu shot. Vaccination rarely causes any significant side effects to your pets, while diseases like parvovirus have a 50% fatality rate. Usually puppies and kittens need 3 vaccines at monthly intervals for protection for certain diseases, then a yearly booster.
What worming treatments should I use?
There are many different ways to protect your pet, some are combined treatments, and some just do one or two things. For most pets, we aim to protect them against fleas, intestinal worms, heartworm and perhaps ticks. For dogs, a combination of Bravecto (3 monthly for ticks and fleas) and Interceptor (monthly for intestinal worms and heartworm) works brilliantly. For cats, Milbemax is a beef-flavoured tablet that covers heartworm and intestinal worms.
Vaccination and parasite control really is one of the more important things you can do for your pets to keep them from contracting preventable diseases and being infected by parasites from year to year. If you are a little confused about the worming and vaccination of your pets, have a chat to your vet and perhaps take in all the treatments you’ve been using so they can check if your pet is fully covered. Or feel free to chat to Dr. Eloise at Love That Pet.
Dr. Eloise Bright – Love That Pet