Regular de-worming is the key to prevention

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Summertime usually means lazy days outdoors.

But spending more time outdoors can increase the risk of worms to our dogs or cats, because worm eggs can remain in soil for years.

“Worms are parasites that live inside the body,” says Elaine Pendlebury, PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon. “The most common are roundworms and tapeworms which normally affect dogs and cats.

“Roundworms live in the small intestine. A mild infection can cause a pot-belly in puppies and kittens, poor growth and occasional diarrhoea. A heavier infection in young puppies can cause a life-threatening blockage of the intestines. In adult dogs and cats, a heavy infection can cause poor coat condition, vomiting and diarrhoea. Sometimes entire live worms are vomited or passed in the pet’s poo, which an owner might see.

“Like roundworms, adult tapeworms also live in the small intestine. They shed segments which crawl out of the bottom and on to the tail and surrounding area. An owner may see these – they look like grains of rice – and pets might excessively lick or groom the area. Part of the tapeworm’s lifecycle involves fleas, so good flea control is an important part of prevention. Your vet can advise you about this.”

Both cats and dogs should be wormed regularly throughout their life to prevent worm infections. Puppies and kittens should be wormed at regular intervals from an early age – your vet can advise you about this. Cat owners also need to follow precautions including careful disposal of cat litter every day and washing their hands thoroughly afterwards.

It’s not just a pet’s health that can be affected by worms, they can pose a real health risk to humans too. Some worms and other parasites can be passed on to humans from cats and dogs which can prove particularly dangerous for children and pregnant women, causing blindness and birth defects. For pet care tips go to www.pdsa.org.uk/pethealth