VET’S VIEW: It’s important to treat pets for parasites

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IT had been a busy day at our clinic in Greece, and a lot of the cats we’d treated were heavily infested with parasites.

Over supper, Loeki, our Dutch host, was commenting on what she’d seen. ‘And the eggs!’ she said referring to the tapeworm segments cats often had adhering to the fur under their tail, ‘like so many sesame seeds!’

Over at the next table, we didn’t notice Nick slowly turning green. ‘Did she have to talk so loudly?’ he moaned afterwards. ‘I wouldn’t have minded, but I’d just ordered seafood spaghetti, and it put me right off my food!’

Even though we rarely see such large numbers in our patients, worms or intestinal parasites are a common problem in all animals, and it’s important to treat your pet regularly. We can broadly divide worms into tapeworms, which are transmitted indirectly to our pets via an intermediate host such as fleas, or prey, and round worms, which can be transmitted both directly and indirectly.

Although you’re more likely to see tapeworms – like Loeki’s sesame seeds or small grains of rice, it’s the round worms which are often more of a problem, particularly as some can be transmitted to humans.

These are most common in young animals, so regular, monthly worming of your puppy or kitten is vital, and if you have young children in the house you’ll probably want to continue this as your pet grows.

Dogs are also vulnerable to lungworm, which is caught when they eat slugs, snails or frogs, or drink water with which they have been in contact. The parasite often interferes with the animal’s clotting mechanism, leading to potentially serious bleeding disorders.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments against all these parasites, and your vet can advise you what is best, based on your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors, so do ask if you need help. I just hope I haven’t put you off your food!