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Worming for cats and dogs

May 21, 2012

Worms are a common cause of ill health in cats and dogs and can cause symptoms ranging from loss of appetite, pot belly, vomiting and diarrhoea, coughing, anaemia and even death.


  • The Worming Regime for Dogs

Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every month until 6 months of age and then every 3 months thereafter. Tablet dosage is based on the weight of the animal and here at MVS we use 2 products called Drontal and Endogard.


  • The Worming Regime for Cats

Kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every month until 6 months of age and then every 3 months. Tablet dosage is based on the weight of the animal and here at MVS we use 2 products called Drontal and Endogard. There is also a pour-on option Broadline for cats who are not easy to tablet.


If your pet will be around children under 5 years of age, playgrounds, immunocompromised family members, fed raw meat or will be an Assistance Dog, there may be a need to worm more regularly. Please do not hesitate to discuss this with one of the Small Animal Team.


Cats and Dogs are affected by four worm types in New Zealand – roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.



Roundworms are a problem mainly in young puppies and kittens. Most puppies are born with roundworms because they become infected by their mother while still in the uterus. Although this hasn’t been shown to happen in kittens they can also pick up roundworm infections from the environment and their mothers once born. Roundworm infections are most likely to be a problem in young animals and can cause ill thrift, rough hair/coat and a pot-bellied appearance. It can cause death in severe cases as well through the massive number of worms within the intestines.

Roundworms can also infest humans and although generally these infestations are not serious, there are some cases in which roundworm infestations can cause serious disease. Most at risk are small children and cat and dog owners. As mentioned, puppies are generally born with a roundworm infection and so will start to shed egg in their faeces from three to four weeks of age. This is why deworming puppies every two weeks is especially important.



Hookworms can infect both cats and dogs. They are generally picked up from the environment. They are mainly a problem in puppies and kittens although they can infect and cause disease in adult animals as well. Hookworms feed by sucking blood and can cause severe and life threatening blood loss. Once again puppies draw the short straw as they can be infected through the milk from their mother. Adult worms can survive in the small intestine for up to 2 years!

Like roundworms hookworms are zoonotic which means they can infect people as well. In healthy adult dogs that only have a few worms there may not be any signs of infection. In puppies and stressed or unhealthy adult dogs, hookworms can cause severe disease related to the loss of blood. Signs of infection include pale gums, ill thrift, not gaining weight and the animal can have black sticky poos, which is a sign of digested blood. Sometimes larval hookworms can cause skin irritation when they penetrate the skin, usually on the feet.



Whipworms have a characteristic whip-like shape. Because of the length of time it takes them to mature they usually occur in older puppies (4 months onwards) and adult dogs. Adult whipworms consume blood, tissue fluids, and the tissue lining the intestines. Feeding habits of the worms can result in bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and dehydration. The developing worm lives in the lining of the small intestine usually without causing disease. Adult worms migrate to the cecum which is part of the large intestine. If the dog is infected with a small number of worms there may not be any clinical signs of the infection, but the dog will be spreading eggs into the environment.



There are various types of tapeworm. The most common is the flea tapeworm. This worm goes through a development stage in the flea. Infection occurs when a cat and dog groom themselves and swallow an infected flea. In general, infections with tapeworms do not cause clinical disease in cats or dogs. They are important however because this type of tapeworm includes both the sheep measles and hydatids worm. New Zealand was declared provisionally free of hydatids in 2002.
Infection in dogs occurs only when dogs are fed infected, uncooked sheep and goat offal containing cysts at the developmental stage. Hydatids has a zoonotic potential which is why we continue with the prevention measures put in place to ensure NZ stays free of hydatids.


Sheep Measles while it poses no risk to human health can cause blemishes in sheep meat which can result in downgrading, or in extreme cases condemning of sheep or lamb carcasses. For this reason there are strict worm programmes in place for dogs that reside on sheep farms.


There are a number of ways to help prevent worms from spreading to you and your children:

  • Talk to your vet. Your veterinarian can recommend a treatment plan for deworming.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after playing with your pets or other animals, after outdoor activities and before handling food.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Do not allow children to play in areas that are soiled with pet or other animal faeces.
  • Clean your pet’s living area at least once a week. Faeces should be either buried or bagged and disposed of in the trash. Wash your hands after handling pet waste.
  • Teach children that it is dangerous to eat dirt or soil


MVS Worming Programme
We offer a worming programme to our clients for adult animals. Tablets are sent to you every 3 months to worm your pets. This saves you having to remember. If you are interested in the worming programme please contact us on 07 888 8197.