Worming your pets in New Zealand

Published September 22nd, 2021 in


All pets will be affected by worms at some stage in their life and many will be re-infected unless they are given regular, routine worming treatment. Getting rid of worms is relatively simple and inexpensive so regular treatment is strongly recommended, particularly as some types of worm can be very detrimental to your pets health and can also be passed onto humans.

What sort of worms effect cats and dogs in New Zealand?

There are four important types of parasitic worms – roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.

Roundworms can grow up to 15 cm long and are white in colour. As their name suggests they are round (like string), Roundworms are zoonotic parasites, which means they can be passed from animals to humans - especially children. Roundworm symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, pot-belly and colic. Puppies can develop roundworm at the foetal stage, prior to being born.

Hookworms are the most dangerous of all intestinal worms, hookworms survive by burrowing into a pet's intestinal wall and sucking blood. Female hookworms can lay up to 30,000 eggs daily. These hatch in the faeces. Infection is caused by swallowing or skin penetration. Your cat or dog could experience enteritis, diarrhoea, dehydration and ultimately death from anaemia. Like roundworms, they are zoonotic parasites and can affect humans.

Tapeworms are flat (like ribbons). Tapeworms can grow up to 60 cm long. Common flea tapeworm larvae develop in fleas, and when a pet eats an infected flea while grooming itself, the tapeworm develops in the animal's gut. Other tapeworm larvae develop in rodents that can be eaten by pets, especially cats. While not a major health risk, tapeworms cause itching and can be responsible for dogs rubbing their backsides on the ground, and irritation displayed by cats.

Hydatid tapeworm sare found in areas where sheep, or wild pigs are in contact with dogs. After eating hydatid eggs from pastures contaminated by infected dogs, intermediate hosts can develop hydatid cysts. Dogs become infected with the hydatid tapeworms after eating hydatid cysts from infected intermediate hosts (e.g. eating offal from sheep). Hydatid tapeworms pose a serious health risk to humans. The same cysts can occur in adults or children who accidentally swallow eggs from a dog's coat.

Whipworms live in the lower bowel of dogs and can survive for up to a year, laying more than 2000 eggs each day. These eggs are passed in the droppings and can survive in soil and pet surroundings for years. Symptoms include pain, diarrhoea and weight loss.

What is the best way to keep worms under control?

Worms are relatively easy to get rid of if your pets have a regular treatment regime. Treatments are available as tablets, spot-ons and chewable tablets. However, not all the products are equally as effective and some work against certain types of worms and not others. It is recommended to treat your pet with a broad spectrum all wormer every three months. Only use veterinary trusted products.

Puppies should be treated with a Broad Spectrum wormer every two weeks, from 2 weeks to 12 weeks of age, monthly until 6 months of age then from 6 months they are should be treated every 3 months. Just to reiterate, EVERY pet will pick up worms regularly as they are constantly in our environment, so keep on top of treatments diligently.

How often do I need to treat my pet?

A regular worming program is essential to keep your pet and family in optimum health. 

While worming is effective in killing worms that are present in the intestine at the time of treatment, worming is not a vaccine against future attacks. This is why regular treatment, especially in your pet's early months, is essential to the pet's health. Dogs and cats can be re-infected from other pets and from the environment.

Vetty is an online New Zealand company that is owned and operated by a New Zealand Veterinarian. Vetty only stocks vet recommended products that are safe, trusted and most importantly they work. 

What else do i need to do to prevent my pet and family from getting worms?

Apart from regularly worming your pets, there are a number of other measures which can stop worms being passed on from pet to pet or from pet to people.

If your pet uses your garden as a toilet, clean up the faeces and bury them or put them inside a sealed bag in your dustbin.

Check your pets for signs of fleas and treat them regularly using the product recommended by your vet or put together by a trusted online company. Fleas are more numerous during summer and autumn, although will survive all year round in centrally heated homes.

Remember – it is a myth that you only need to de-flea and de-worm pets when you see fleas or worms, or only in the summer. Be a responsible pet owner and flea and worm all year round, with the right products and at the right time.

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