By Dr Samantha Matthews, DVM (Hons) of Trinity Animal Clinic
An endoparasite is a parasite that lives on the inside of their host, whereas an ectoparasite lives on the outside. Both of these classes of parasites are able to cause harm to your animals and you should set up a regimen to treat and prevent them.
Our companion animals are most susceptible to these parasites and they may also act as hosts for other diseases or parasites. For example, did you know that fleas are vectors for tapeworm? Meaning, if your pet has fleas, they most likely will also have tapeworms!
Let’s talk endoparasites
The most common endoparasites are tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Infection occurs by consumption of eggs, larvae, or worms from infected soil, grass, or feces. Once ingested, these worms reside in the intestines of your animals and eventually are shed in their feces.
The most common signs of a high worm burden are:
- “Scooting” (dragging the rear end on the floor)
- Vomiting and eating grass
- Poor weight gain even though eating, and sometimes even weight loss
- Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
Upon inspection of the feces, you are sometimes able to visualize the worms or you may see what appears to be rice grains in the feces. If any of these are seen, your pet should be dewormed.
What dewormer to use?
For companion animals, there are numerous options available for endoparasite control, most of which are very reasonable and can be purchased at your veterinarian, animal stores, and pharmacies islandwide. Your choice of dewormer should be dependent on the age of your animal, breed, diet, pregnancy/ nursing status.
Some of the dewormers available locally include:
- Fenbendazole (Panacur)
- Nexgard Spectra (only sold at select Vet Clinics)
The safest dewormer for puppies, kittens, and pregnant animals is Pyrantel. If your pet is fed a raw diet, it is imperative to ensure prompt deworming is done every month. Additionally, some dog breeds are sensitive to some of the dewormers used, so your vet should be consulted BEFORE deciding on the dewormer for your pet. For example, Collie breed dogs are sensitive to Ivermectin and should not be given ivermectin or products containing ivermectin such as Endovet®-CES. Your choice of dewormer should also be rotated every year to prevent resistance from developing.
An important point to note is that all dewormers don’t cover all types of worms.
Fenbendazole treats hookworms, whipworms, and one type of roundworm.
Pyrantel treats some hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms, but not all.
Endovet ®-CES, however, does treat all types of worms.
How to develop a deworming Regimen?
Deworming of companion animals usually begins at 4-6 weeks of age. It should occur every month – 3 months depending on the dewormer used. Deworming medication is based on the weight of your pet, so you must make sure you have an idea of how heavy they are so they get the appropriate dosage. Incorrect dosing can lead to your animal developing a resistance to the dewormer.
Can humans get worms from pets?
The answer to this question is YES! Especially young children who may not practice proper handwashing techniques or frequently put their hands in their mouths. Also, persons emptying cat litter trays or cleaning up any feces. In your household, if you have pets, you should subject all persons to annual deworming.