How to get rid of worms in pets

Roundworms © SmithKline Beecham

Worms can cause your pet suffering, illness and even death. Some types of worms can be spread between pets and people and can cause diseases. Even healthy-looking animals can carry worms, so it's important to worm your pets regularly. 

Your vet will advise which type of treatment and method you should use for your pet. Here's more about worms and how you can keep them at bay.

How do pets get worms?

Animals can pick worms up in a variety of ways, including from:

  • Other infected animals
  • Eating the larvae or eggs of worms (e.g. in infected faeces or in the grass)
  • Eating raw meat, infected prey animals or infected parasites

Many kittens have roundworm because it's commonly passed on to them in their mother's milk.

Signs of worms in pets

It may be difficult to see any symptoms of your pet having worms, but it's important to have a regular worm treatment in place, as advised by your vet.

If your pet does have the parasite, you may see worms in faeces or vomit, or around your pet's bottom. Wrap any worms you find on or near your pet in damp cotton wool and take them to your vet, so they can advise the best worm treatment.

Other signs your pet could have worms include:

  • Your pet starts losing weight
  • Their fur is becoming dry and coarse
  • Increased appetite, weakness and diarrhoea
  • In severe cases, infected puppies and kittens can have a distended abdomen or 'pot belly'.

How to treat your pets for worms

  • Give them regular worm treatments - ask your vet for the best treatment and method to deworm your pet.
  • Treat pets for roundworms from a young age and, when they're adults, also treat them for tapeworms.
  • Different worms may need different treatments - ask your vet which treatment is safe and suitable for your pet.
  • Also treat for fleas - prevent tapeworms by using a flea treatment regularly, as fleas can carry tapeworm eggs.

How to prevent worms in pets

Prevention is always better than cure, so follow these tips to reduce the risk of your pet catching worms.

  • Disinfect food and water bowls regularly.
  • Ensure housing is regularly cleaned and disinfected, but only use a disinfectant that's safe for animals.
  • Good pasture management is needed for horses, ponies, donkeys and rabbits to prevent them from eating the larvae and eggs of worms. This may involve removing droppings and rotating which areas your animal has access to.
  • Avoid collecting greens for rabbits from areas where wild rabbits and rodents have been. If your rabbits are kept outside, place their housing so that exposure to wild rabbits and rodents is minimised.
  • Pregnant animals should only be wormed under the supervision of a vet.
  • Clean up after your pet and dispose of faeces carefully.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before you eat.

For more advice on how to get rid of worms, have a read of our 'get worm wise guide'.

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