Here at VetShopOnline, we love animals; but there are four types of worrisome worms we won’t ever warm too! These parasitic worms like to find a home inside our pets organs; and pose a serious and sinister threat to our fur-friends’ health. What is even more worrisome is that these parasites can pose a devilish zoonotic risk; where infection can be transferred from pet to pet owner. This Halloween, Dr Mark has created the 'Freakish and Frightening Guide to Worrisome Worms;' a warts n all guide highlighting which intestinal worms pose the greatest zoonotic risk.
Dr Mark's Freakish and Frightening Guide to Worrisome Worms:
Looks Like: The long body of a tapeworm consists of multiple flat segments.
How Infection Occurs: Pets typically contract tapeworm from fleas. If a flea ingests tapeworm eggs, a tapeworm will develop inside the flea’s body. Your pet may then ingest this infected flea when grooming themselves.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Dogs: Tapeworms hook onto the wall of the small intestine to feed which can cause your pet to have problems absorbing their food, diarrhoea or scooting (perianal irritation).
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Humans: Varies depending on affected organ but may include; abdominal pain, enlarged liver, nausea, respiratory sign or signs consistent with eye, brain or kidney disease.
High Zoonotic Risk: Children are particularly at risk of ingesting infected fleas or contaminated soil. Eggs can hatch in the intestine with embryos then migrating through the bloodstream to organs such as the liver lungs, kidney and brain where they develop into cysts. These cysts can cause organ damage with treatment including surgery and possibly chemotherapy.
Looks Like: Round in shape, roundworms can grow up to 15cm and resemble a piece of string.
How Infection Occurs: By ingesting stools or soil infected with worm eggs or hunting infected animals. Puppies can also be born with the disease if their mother is infected.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Dogs: Adult roundworms live in the small intestine and may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, a pot-bellied appearance, dull hair and lethargy. Large numbers of roundworm can block the intestine leading to constipation. Roundworms can cause respiratory disease, stunted growth or death in puppies.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Humans: Abdominal pain, enlarged liver and fever; blindness and epilepsy (signs specific to affected organ).
High Zoonotic Risk: Young children especially are at risk if exposed to contaminated soil or faeces. Roundworm larvae hatch in theintestine and migrate through the abdominal organs. In some cases, and especially young children, these may reach the eyes or brain.
Looks Like: Similar to a hook in shape, hookworms are greyish white in colour.
How Infection Occurs: Hookworms can penetrate the skin of your pet if they are exposed to soil contaminated with larvae, when hunting infected animals or in contact with contaminated faeces. Hookworms are typically transmitted to puppies from their mother’s milk, if the bitch is infected.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Dogs: Hookworms latch onto the intestinal wall and feed on your pet’s blood; which can cause intestinal bleeding, severe anaemia which may result in death, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and weakness.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Humans: Itchy skin lesions. In rare cases, gastrointestinal disease may occur.
Low Zoonotic Risk: Contact or ingestion of larvae from soil contaminated with infected dog faeces.
Looks Like: A Whipworm is very thin at the front and thick at the back, like the shape of a whip.
How Infection Occurs: Pets become infected when they consume water, food, faeces or soil contaminated with whipworm eggs.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Dogs: Whipworms have a mouth structured like a spear which punctures the wall of your pet’s large intestine so they can feed on the animal’s blood, causing dehydration, anaemia and diarrhoea.
Symptoms and Damage Caused in Humans: None
No Zoonotic Risk: No zoonotic risk to humans