Q: How do I know my cat has worms?
A: In both cats and dogs, there may not be any clinical signs that they have worms, while other animals show recognisable symptoms. Different types of worms show different signs of ‘worm burden’ or verminosis, and the animal’s age, immune status and the severity of the parasite load also have an influence on the symptoms. Look at your pet’s faeces and the fur around the anus for visible worms. It is not always visible with the naked eye.
The four major worm groups that affect dogs and cats are roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm and hookworm.
Roundworms are long and look like spaghetti, and are the easiest to see in the stool.
Tapeworms are passed in segments in the faeces and look like grains of rice. These worms often stick to the fur around the anus.
Whipworms are smaller, thin at the one end and thick at the other end.
Hookworms are some of the more dangerous worms and not easily identified. They are tiny, usually around 2cm long and less than 0.5mm wide.
Worm eggs can be passed in the faeces and survive for long periods of time in the environment. It is strongly recommended that you pick up and discard the faeces, because it can infest another animal who picks it up.
Prevention is better than cure, therefore deworm adult cats and dogs at least four times a year. Your veterinarian will give you the best treatment options for your pet.
Dr Helen McLean, veterinarian