How to get rid of worms in pets

Roundworms © SmithKline Beecham

Healthy looking animals can carry worms, so it's important to worm pets regularly. Your vet will be best to advise which type of treatment and method you should use for your pet.

Worms can cause suffering, illness and even death. Some types of worms can be spread between pets and people and can cause diseases.

Worm treatment for pets

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

How to prevent worms in pets

  • Disinfect food and water bowls regularly
  • Ensure housing is regularly cleaned and disinfected, but only use a disinfectant that is safe for animals
  • Good pasture management is required 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
  • For rabbits, avoid collecting greens from areas where wild rabbits and rodents have been and if kept outside, place 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.

Thinking about buying a puppy? Avoid buying from breeders who don't worm their dogs and puppies.

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

  • 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'.

Why do pets get worms?

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

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

Kittens and roundworm

Many kittens have roundworm because it's commonly passed on to them in their mother's milk. This means that having your kitten treated regularly for worms is important to keep them healthy and happy. If worms are left untreated your cat may become very unwell.

Thinking about buying a kitten? Avoid buying from breeders who don't worm their cats and kittens.

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