Worming is one of the first health issues owners need to address. Kittens are most susceptible to worm problems. Intestinal worms are parasites that live in the intestines or your pet. These worms grow up to 18cm long and they all have negative and potentially deadly effects on your pet.
Most species of animals, including humans, can be infected with intestinal worms.
There are four main types of intestinal worms that we see in Darwin.
Roundworms cause diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing, blockages in the intestines, potbelly, poor coat condition and painful tummy.
Hookworms cause bloody diarrhoea, iron deficiency, and low protein. Further blood loss causes anaemia and can lead to death.
Whipworms cause blood in stools, mucous diarrhoea, poor body condition, severe abdominal pain, fever and vomiting.
Tapeworms cause irritation around the anus (Encouraging ‘scooting’), diarrhoea and poor growth. Most tapeworms are transmitted by eating fleas. Regular worming can control these worms.
There is a less common tapeworm cats get from eating lizards and frogs. They become infected with the tapeworm Spirometra (or ‘Zipper worm’), that can cause intestinal upsets and vomiting. Control of this worm may require a higher dose of worming treatment every three months.
Intestinal worms can make your kitten very sick and in some cases (such as hookworms and heavy infestations) are fatal.
Human Health Issues
Intestinal worms can also be spread from your pet to your family. Hookworm larvae can cause skin irritation; roundworm larvae can, on rare occasions, infect children and migrate in the body
Some simple awareness strategies in handling your pet would include:
- Promptly clean up pet faeces
- Keep your pet’s environment clean
- Prevent children from playing where the soil may be contaminated
Practise good hygiene; always encourage children to wash their hands prior to eating, after playing with pets and particularly after playing in dirt or sandpits.
It is important to maintain a routine worming treatment for your pets. This will reduce the incidence of infection, environmental contamination and the risk of people becoming infected.
There are many worming treatments available. They are available as tablets, spot-ons, or pastes. Re-infection is a common problem, particularly in pets that are in contact with a heavily contaminated environment (such as being on the ground or in the dirt).
In the Darwin Tropics it is essential to worm kittens with an intestinal all-wormer every week from one or two weeks of age until they are four months old.
For cats over four months of age, use intestinal all-wormer regularly every month year round ideally. You might consider reducing this to every three months in the dry.
It is generally sufficient to worm indoor cats every three months.
For cats that eat lizards and frogs a high dose of tapeworming treatment is recommended every three months your vet can advise you.