Deworming is a topic we have blogged in the past about, however with the current media attention that tapeworms have been getting, we thought it would be a great idea to recap this important part of pet health care again!
Intestinal deworming is a recommendation that many pet owners have heard our veterinarians discuss at wellness exams, but unfortunately it is one of the most common ones to be forgotten about! Often during a busy veterinary appointment there are more urgent medical conditions that need to be addressed for our pets...and then once that immediate concern is resolved, we are just so happy that Fido is feeling good again that we forget about the dewormer we were going to pick up....and then another year goes by without Fido being treated! In addition, there is a common misconception that if a pet doesn't have any big white spaghetti worms or "rice" in the stool and the dog or cat "never really goes anywhere", then they couldn't have an intestinal parasite infection....except that Fido does go on walks around the neighborhood, to the park once awhile, and of course goes out in the backyard....hmmm.
Suddenly a light goes on and you can recall all of the various "land mines" Fido sniffed during your walk along the sidewalk yesterday or when playing ball in the park...and you remember seeing that neighborhood cat in the sandbox or in your vegetable garden... and that stray who ran through your yard last night and left a present on the lawn for you to find the next morning! When you really stop to think about it, you realize that your pet that "never really goes anywhere" or "is only out in the backyard" may have more exposure to potentially contaminated feces or infected animals (mice and birds) than you thought! Not only is your pet at risk for infection, but many pet owners don't realize that they themselves, can be as well. This is because many of the common intestinal worms found in cats and dogs are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to people!
Zoonotic infections aren't always related to a human directly ingesting contaminated feces (although many moms with toddlers can probably picture some backyard scenarios they would like to forget!) Do you remember your child or grandchild playing with Fluffy's tail and then rubbing their face or eating a snack without washing their hands first? Fluffy's tail seems clean but we all know sometimes fecal material can get stuck in the fur around the business end. Maybe that neighborhood cat who likes to spend time in your garden comes to mind when you dug up that fresh carrot, dusted it off and took a bite without washing it first...what exactly was in that little bit of dirt you just ingested? Many times humans that are infected remain asymptomatic however in some cases, more commonly in young children, there can be serious infections involving the eyes and skin. There have also been cases of tapeworm infections in people causing damage to numerous organs in the body such as recently portrayed in the media. For these reasons, intestinal deworming for your pet is an important factor in public health as well.
At Wascana Animal Hospital, our veterinarians make it a priority to discuss the importance of routine intestinal deworming. You may have received a reminder from us for Drontal Plus if you have a dog, or Profender if you have a cat. Have you recently adopted a new pet from a shelter? Do you have a new puppy or kitten in your home? Does your pet go to a daycare/boarding facility or hunt in the backyard? Do you live on a farm or acreage? Depending on your pet's exposure level, sometimes deworming is recommended annually and other times as often as monthly! Also depending on the parasite involved and whether your pet has been dewormed previously, sometimes your pet may only need one dose of dewormer and other times they may need several doses a few weeks apart. All dewormers are also not created equal; over-the-counter pet store "dewormers" are not comprehensive and do not treat tapeworm infections adequately. Your veterinarian is your best source of advice for deworming information and at your next wellness exam, our veterinarians look forward to establishing a deworming protocol that works best specifically for your pet!