There is one thought which nobody likes the sound of: worms living inside you! Worms are parasitic and feed off your intestines and insides. While usually not too serious, they can cause considerable pain and discomfort. Some worms are also particularly contagious, so caution when dealing with worms must be taken. But which worms could harm your dog? Unfortunately, whipworms, roundworms and hookworms can all take up residence in your dog! But can your dog catch worms from cats?
People may think specific strains of worms cannot be transmitted between species, but a number of worms can, in fact, be transmitted from cats to your dog. So if you have a household cat as well as a dog and you suspect your cat might have worms, it would be well worth keeping them separated until the worm infestation has been dealt with!
Fortunately, spotting the signs of worms in your dog is relatively straightforward. The first thing to look out for is worms in your dog’s stool or vomit. But has your dog also lost its appetite or lost a lot of weight recently? These are all potential signs that your dog may have a worm infestation.
“What causes worms though?”, I hear you ask. Your dog digests worm eggs or larvae that are on your cat or in their stool. Those larvae then develop into eggs, which feed off the intestinal wall. The bad news is: thousands of eggs can hatch a day! So worms can spread quickly from your pet cat to your dog and before you know it, thousands of them can be eating your dog’s insides.
Your vet will diagnose worms through an analysis of their stool. If you have a fresh sample within the last 24 hours then you can bring it in with you. Your vet will use a fecal float and microscopic analysis to identify the type of worms your dog has.
For further information about symptoms, causes and diagnosing worm infestations, our guide to Worm Infestations in Dogs.
Treatment of worms is relatively straightforward. Your vet will prescribe a course of deworming medication. They will be given either orally or injected, but will kill all living worms inside your dog. The worms will dissolve and exit via your dog’s stool. Often, multiple treatments will be needed as medication sometimes can only kill adult worms.
It is essential during the deworming period that you ensure your dog does not get re-infected. That means cleaning up any excrement from your dog and cat. It also means trying to keep their bed and areas clean and disinfected. Plus, it is vital that you wear gloves when handling infected objects and feces, as you do not want the infection spreading to yourself or your children!
It will usually be several weeks before your dog is fully recovered, as numerous treatments are often needed. Until all the worms are killed your dog may seem lethargic, unwell, and not his normal self. But within several weeks or a couple of months, you can expect full recovery.
For first-hand accounts from other owners, plus frequently asked questions answered by our in-house vets, visit Roundworms in Dogs.
Worms manifest themselves in dogs in many of the same ways they do in cats and other animals. Some of the symptoms frequently seen are as follows:
▪ In dogs and cats, you may be able to actually see worms in the stool or vomit.
▪ Both dogs and cats may lose their appetite and lose a significant amount of weight while ▪ ▪ suffering with an infestation.
▪ Dogs and cats may seem lethargic and uninterested in their usual day-to-day life.
▪ Dogs and cats may have blood in their stool or vomit when battling with worms.
As you have seen, there are a number of similarities in the way worms manifest themselves in dogs and cats. While many of these similarities are shared with humans suffering from a worm infestation, humans often experience several differences.
▪ Worms spread much more frequently between cats and dogs than they do to humans, who come into contact with the eggs and larvae far less.
▪ Humans with worms often report severe abdominal pain, but it is less clear whether dogs and cats also suffer with this.▪ While dogs and cats get hookworms relatively frequently, it is seen far less in humans.
Jax was a 7-year-old Australian Shepherd who shared the house with a cat infected with roundworms. Although the cat was on deworming medication, Jax still picked up the roundworms. He needed several deworming treatments of his own and lost a substantial amount of weight. But after 6 weeks, Jax was back to his normal self and 2 weeks after that he had regained all the weight he had lost.