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Does my Dog/Cat Have Worms?

Worms can be a real pain in the butt – literally!

Your dog or cat may look healthy and well, but they can still harbour a wriggly intestinal stowaway or two….hundred so it is important that you keep up with regular worming treatment – this can be purchased from your veterinary surgeon who will be able to advise you of the right combination for your pet as different worms require different treatments. If you have multi-pet household then all animals will need to be treated.

Worms can cause suffering, illness and even death. Some types of worms can be spread between pets and people and can cause diseases.

There are six types of worms that affect dogs: heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms and lungworms.

The most common intestinal worms found in cats are tapeworm and roundworm.

Did you know....?

Fleas can transmit tapeworm to your pet. This is why it is incredibly important to maintain a regular flea treatment alongside your wormer. The most common type of tapeworm for dogs and cats, Dipylidium caninum, will use a flea as an intermediate host this means that fleas carry tapeworm eggs inside their bodies. This happens when fleas, still in their larvae stage, swallow tapeworm eggs themselves.

When a dog or cat eats the flea (usually whilst they are grooming themselves), the immature form of the tapeworm is released from the flea. This immature tapeworm then develops into an adult in the dog's or cat's intestine and the life cycle is completed.

How to prevent worms in pets:

  • Regular worm and flea treatment prescribed by your veterinary surgeon – usually given four times a year
  • Disinfect food and water bowls regularly
  • Ensure housing is regularly cleaned and disinfected, but only use a disinfectant that is safe for animals
  • Pregnant animals should only be wormed under the supervision of a vet
  • Clean up after your pet and dispose of faeces carefully
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before you eat.

Signs of worms in pets

  • If your pet does have the parasite, you may see worms in faeces or vomit, or around your pet's bottom. Wrap any worms you find on or near your pet in damp cotton wool and take them to your vet, so they can advise the best worm treatment. Ensure you wear gloves if you have them to hand when handling the parasites and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • You pet starts losing weight
  • Their fur is becoming dry and coarse
  • Increased appetite, weakness and diarrhoea
  • In severe cases, infected puppies and kittens can have a distended abdomen or 'pot belly'.
  • “Scooting” – rubbing their bottom along the floor
  • Diarrhoea, usually containing blood
  • General low demeanour and malaise
  • In some rare cases, death

Why do pets get worms?

Dogs and cats can pick worms up in a variety of ways, from:

  • Encountering other infected animals or being passed from mother to offspring
  • eating the larvae or eggs of worms (e.g. in infected faeces or in grass or via grooming)
  • eating raw meat, infected prey animals (such as mice) or infected parasites.


Toxocariasis is a rare infection transmitted to humans which is caused by the roundworm, Toxicara Canis. Although it is rare, it can cause some very severe side effects including permanent loss of vision, particularly in children as they play in infected soil or sand and often put their unwashed hands into their mouths. Please follow NHS advice if you think you or a family member has been affected.

Want to learn more about Tapeworms?

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Perhaps Roundworms instead?

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Thanks for reading!

The G.R Team

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