Deworming dogs and cats is a public health issue. Dog or cat intestinal parasites can threaten the health of people, both adults and children. Studies show that at least 5% of the public have been in contact with roundworms*.
Deworming dogs and cats get rid of parasites that live in their digestive tract. City or rural pets and working dogs, all are at risk.
Each species of parasite develops following its own life cycle. In general, a dog or cat gets infected when eating an animal, such as a rat, mouse, slug or flea, which is itself already infected with a parasite, or by swallowing the eggs or larvae of parasites living on the ground or in grass.
The most common are roundworms.
Puppies and kittens are generally infected with these parasites from birth. Roundworms live in the digestive tract where they lay eggs that are passed in the stool: these eggs can survive 2 years outdoors before being accidentally ingested by a dog or a cat (or a child)!
Tapeworms are flat worms that can reach up to 60cm in length! The most common flatworm in dogs and cats is Dipylidium caninum. This parasite is transmitted by fleas.
Roundworms can cause serious disorders in puppies and kittens such as diarrhoea, vomiting, intestinal obstruction and stunted growth. Symptoms are less apparent in adult animals, but a heavy burden of parasites always causes a decline in general condition.
Fleas transmit internal parasites to dogs and cats. Deworming and flea treatment must therefore be tackled head-on.
The optimal frequency of treatment depends on the age and the parasite pressure that is exerted on your dog / cat. A quarterly treatment is usually recommended in adult pets, but your vet will help you develop a deworming protocol for your pet.
* Farmer A, Beltran T, Choi YS. Prevalence of Toxocara species infection in the U.S.: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2014. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2017; 31; 11: e0005818.