What Do You Do if Your Pet Has Worms?

The pet owner today is the target of a multi-million-dollar industry in pet foods and animal health products. The range of products displayed in the supermarket or pharmacy is very extensive and may prove a little confusing.

Worm treatments aim to eliminate roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms or heartworm. They can be in tablet, powder, syrup or capsule form and finding the correct product for the age and weight of your pet is not always easy. Unfortunately, there is no one product which will treat all worms or is suitable for all ages of dogs or cats.

Young puppies should be treated for roundworms every two or three weeks from the time that you acquire the pet until it is six-months-old. One of the safest and most effective drugs to treat roundworms in the puppy is pyrantel pamoate. This used to be only obtainable as Canex but now there are a large number of other brands containing the drug. It is available in various strengths in tablet form or in syrup and is designed to treat very small puppies to large dogs.

Read the directions on the label carefully and choose the appropriate dose rate, having first weighed your dog. Do not buy the tablets designed to treat a 2.5kg puppy if your dog weighs 30kg. You will have to give far too many tablets and you will be wasting money. Pyrantel tablets are also effective against hookworms which are not usually a problem but may be present in dogs from warmer and wetter areas.

Puppies coming from breeding establishments where there are large numbers of dogs may require treatment for whipworms. A convenient method of doing this is to buy a combined tablet of pyrantel and oxantel – Canex Plus is one of these but there are now other brands available.

Kittens and cats should also be treated for roundworms. They require a higher dose of pyrantel and one of the convenient ways of administering this is Felix Paste which is dispensed in a graduated syringe and is squirted directly into the mouth.

Most family pets do not come in contact with large numbers of dogs and probably need to be treated for roundworms every six months. Dogs living in kennel situations or where there are a large number of young animals may require more frequent dosing. Greyhounds and working dogs confined in small areas may require worming every six weeks.

Tapeworms are of particular significance. The ordinary suburban dog fed on commercial dog food or meat from the butcher is not at risk. Dogs kept on the outskirts of the city area or on rural properties should be restrained so that they cannot wander and find freshly dead sheep or lamb carcasses.

Dogs kept in these high-risk areas should be dosed every six weeks with Droncit tablets. It is wise to treat even town dogs at least every six months as there are other dog tapeworms besides hydatids which, although they are no risk to humans, are best eliminated.

Many owners are treating their dogs with daily heartworm preventive tablets. These are available in different strengths so be sure always to check the label. Do not use these tablets in dogs over three-months-old unless they have been tested by a veterinary surgeon and proved to be free of heartworm. Dogs taking heartworm tablets do not need to be treated separately for roundworms but still require tapeworm treatments.

See: How to Care for Your Dog and Cat

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