Health & Wellness

Why worms are every pet parents worst nightmare

Bianca Amponsah
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It’s spooky season! So, sit back and settle in to hear a horror story that’s sure to make your skin crawl!  

As a pet parent, having to deal with worms can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress.   

These parasitic creatures can cause a wide range of health issues in cats and dogs, including weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy.   

They can be transmitted through contaminated soil, faeces, or even by fleas, making it essential to take preventative measures such as regular deworming and maintaining good hygiene practices.   

If left untreated, worms can even be fatal for our furry friends.  

Let's look at some of the big reasons why worms are every pet parents worst nightmare  

Worms can seriously impact the health of your pet

Hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms are the most common types of worms that can make our pets feel unwell.  

These worms can be sneaky and lay dormant in your pet's system before physical symptoms show up.  


But don't worry! By being aware of these parasites and taking necessary precautions, we can help keep our households healthy and prevent worms. 


But first, you'll want to get familiar with the different types of worms and what they can cause.  

In cats and dogs: 

Roundworms - are intestinal worms that look like spaghetti and can grow up to 15cm. 

Toxocara (roundworms) can be passed on to puppies and kittens via the mother's milk. 

Severe roundworm infestations can have serious, life-threatening health consequences for kittens and puppies if left untreated.  

Similarly, if left untreated in adult cats and dogs, problems include vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and anaemia.  

Tapeworms - are intestinal worms that look like grains of rice. Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm) can occur due to pets ingesting fleas during grooming.  

Tapeworms in dogs can cause serious health issues such as anaemia, weight loss, and intestinal blockages if left untreated. 

If left untreated in cats, they can cause intestinal inflammation and secondary health issues. Older cats and kittens are especially susceptible to tapeworms.  

In extreme cases, kittens may develop intestinal obstructions from adult tapeworms.  


In dogs: 


Hookworms - are intestinal parasites that live in and latch onto the small intestine, feeding off small blood vessels.  

Hookworms are a serious threat to dogs, especially young puppies that may not survive the blood loss without transfusions. In older animals, the blood loss may be more chronic, and the pet may suffer from diarrhoea and weight loss.  

Whipworms - are intestinal parasites that attach to the intestinal lining and feed off small blood vessels in dogs.  

The presence of whipworms in dogs can lead to various health issues, such as weight loss, diarrhoea, anaemia, and bloody stools.  

The greater the number of whipworms, the more severe the symptoms and irritation can be.  

This can cause a significant decline in the dog's quality of life and body condition score and can be particularly dangerous for puppies, senior dogs, and those with compromised immune systems.  


Lungworm - is a parasite in dogs that travels around the body and causes serious health issues, from respiratory problems to seizures. It can be caught by your dog eating slugs and snails when eating grass.  

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is not a threat to humans, but it can sometimes be fatal for dogs. 

They can be passed on to us and our families too!  

It's a frightening thought, but parasites can be passed on to us and our families.

One such parasite is Toxocara, which is a roundworm that can cause serious infections if accidentally ingested through eating undercooked meat or eggs.  

These parasites may also migrate within the body, which can lead to severe health complications if they block the eye, brain, or nerve tract during migration.  

Tapeworm infections can be contracted when people touch their pets, who may have fleas, and then eat without washing their hands.  


Small children are particularly vulnerable to these infections, as they tend to put most things in their mouths.  


Echinococcus granulosis and Multilocularis are tapeworms that live in the small intestine of dogs and cats and are passed into the environment through their faeces.

Pigs and sheep, as well as rodents, can become intermediate hosts by ingesting these parasites from the environment, which can develop into hydatid cysts and eventually pass back to pets if they eat raw offal or infected rodents.  


Eggs from these parasites can be passed to humans through direct contact with pets or contaminated food, potentially leading to fatal consequences if left untreated.  

Dog hookworms are generally not harmful to humans, but some can cause cutaneous larva migrans, a skin condition that occurs when the skin comes into direct contact with faeces from an infected dog that are a few days old.  


If your pets are frequently around pregnant women, children, or the elderly, it is highly recommended that you worm them regularly using reliable treatments to avoid infection.  


Toxoplasma is another parasite that is commonly found in cats and can spread through the consumption of contaminated meat, or by coming into contact with infected faeces in a litter box.  


People can contract toxoplasmosis by petting their cat and not washing their hands before eating.  


Symptoms of an infection may include sore muscles and flu-like symptoms, while pregnant women's babies may suffer from brain damage.  

Dogs can also become infected by sniffing or ingesting infected cat faeces, or by coming into contact with the soil or cat litter where the parasite is present. 


They’re much more expensive to cure than to prevent!  

Preventing your furry friend from getting infected with worms is much easier and less expensive than treating them once they have already been infected. 


Remember, they are much more expensive to cure than to prevent! That's why it's always a great idea to take responsible measures and maintain a regular deworming routine to keep your pet healthy and happy.  


Not only will this help you avoid a hefty vet bill, but it will also ensure that your best bud enjoys a good quality of life.  Puppies, kittens, and older pets are more susceptible to heavy worm burdens.  


This can lead to further treatment or even surgery, ultimately costing over £1000 to nurse your pet back to full health.  

They can be picked up pretty easily  


Toxocara eggs (worm eggs) are being discovered more frequently in contaminated soil found in lots of UK parks.   

Worms can be transmitted via fleas, faeces of other animals, and eating soil, mice, rats, or even hunting. 

Roundworms are also passed onto young pets from their parents. This is why it’s always important to choose a responsible breeder or adopt from a trusted rescue. 

Tapeworms can also be transmitted from fleas, so it is important to keep up to date with flea treatments.  

Hookworms can be picked up from the mother or faeces of other dogs or foxes.  

So be vigilant if you have a dog that loves to roll in fox poo during walks.  

Whipworm is passed on via eggs in other dogs' faeces or the soil. However, Whipworm is fairly rare in the UK.  


They are beyond unpleasant to deal with   

Worms can show up in your pet's sick and poo. If your pet is vomiting worms, then this suggests a very heavy burden of worms.  

Tapeworms can exit the anus and look like grains of rice wriggling around in the fur around the bottom.  

These can drop off your pet and you can find them on the sofa, in your bed, or wherever your pet goes.  

This can be an extremely unpleasant experience, especially if you frequently share the bed with your beloved pet!  

If you suspect your pet has tapeworms, clean the area, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid infection and see a vet immediately. 


They can be fatal to puppies and kittens and other pets!  


Because puppies and kittens are so small and need all the nutrients they can get, a heavy worm burden for a puppy or kitten that is not regularly dewormed from a young age can be extremely dangerous.  

Roundworm can cause dehydration and blockages in the intestines, which can prove fatal. 

 Young pets, older seniors, or immune-compromised cats and dogs are more at risk.  

Top ways you can prevent parasites:  


  • Practice good personal hygiene by washing your hands after handling your pet and before eating food 
  • Minimize exposure to children, and educate them about good personal hygiene. 
  • Wear gloves while gardening 
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating 
     Regularly treat pets for worms or feacal testing 
  • Clean up and dispose of pet faeces responsibly, 
  • Groom pets regularly to reduce the risk of worm egg contamination.  
  • Special care should be taken with pets and risks for immunocompromised people, the elderly, and diabetics.  
  • Other people at risk are pregnant women, babies and toddlers, as well as people at occupational risk such as farmers, kennel workers, and hunters.

Ask a Registered Vet Nurse!

Got a concern about your pet, need help picking the right product or just looking for expert advice to be the best pet parent ever? Our qualified vet nurses are here to use their decades of experience to support you for free!

Fiona Eldridge
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Fiona Eldridge
Hi! I'm Fiona, Buddycare's lead Veterinary Nurse and I'm here to answer all of your pet related questions dog and cat emoji
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