Dog and Cat Worming

Worm infestation is very common in dogs and cats and can cause distress and ill health. The 2 types of worms that trouble our pets are roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworms are spread from animal to animal and are very similar looking to earthworms but much thinner. They can vary from ½” to several inches in length are usually vomited up or passed through in the motion.  Puppies and kittens are particularly susceptible to roundworms and are often infected from birth.

Roundworms can be passed on to humans if the eggs are accidentally ingested. Often this is from the fingers or from plates that pets have licked or from the soil. Care must be particularly advised when there are young children in the environment.

Tapeworms consist of segments with a head that attaches itself to the intestine. Mature segments break away and can be seen in the motions or around the base of the tail. They appear to show signs of life and resemble flattened grains of rice.  Tapeworms are not usually a problem in puppies and kittens but once they are over 6 months of age then treatment should be considered. The symptoms are poor coat and condition and anal irritation is also a sign of infestation.

Fleas are carriers of tapeworm eggs and are a common cause of infestation sometimes picked up from other animals such as birds and rodents therefore it is a good idea to treat your pets with a suitable insecticide as well as pet beds carpets and the like. Constant scratching and twitching is a sign of flea infestation and tiny black droppings can often be seen when the coat is combed out.



Roundworms (or Ascarids) look like short lengths of spaghetti, curled up into a coil. The adult worms live in the dog or cat’s intestines, feeding on the contents – in effect, stealing your dog or cat’s food!  They grow to around 4 inches in length, and there may be dozens of them in the intestines of a heavily infected animal. In this situation, it’s not surprising that the dog or cat may be undernourished, with a dull coat, and lacking energy.  Other symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss. However, many infestations are symptom-less. In the adult dog, the worm larvae migrate into the body and form cysts in the muscles. There they may lay dormant for years, only to be activated in times of stress. The commonest situation that results in their awakening is pregnancy, when large numbers of worm larvae migrate into the puppy in the uterus (womb), infecting it before it is even born.

The most common roundworm in UK dogs, Toxocara canis, can also infect people, and children are particularly vulnerable to some very serious effects

The two commonest roundworms, which can infect UK cats, are Toxocara cati (the Cat Roundworm) and Toxascaris leonine.

Not only are cats and dogs affected by worms, but people may be too. Children are particularly vulnerable as they may pick up the worm eggs from contaminated soil during play (infected sandpits are a common source). The worm larvae migrate (move) through the child’s body, and can sometimes end up behind the retina where they can cause permanent damage to the child’s eyesight. Worms have also been implicated in epilepsy. So remember, worming your pets protects them and as well as your children!  Regular worming of your pet is an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Treat withDrontal Plus, Drontal Plus XLDrontal Cat XL, Drontal Cat, Panacur Granules, and Panacur Paste


Tapeworms resemble long, flat ribbons, divided up into segments.  The mature tapeworm segments are filled with eggs, and individual segments break off, to pass via the cat or dog’s anus into the environment.  Tapeworms, unlike roundworms, need an intermediate host (e.g. flea or mouse – both have different species of tapeworm for different intermediate hosts) that is eaten by the cat or dog.

The most common tapeworm to affect cats and dogs in the UK is the flea tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum), so named because it uses the flea as an intermediate host in its life cycle.

Swallowing fleas while grooming infects cats and dogs, and once in the gut, the worm larva carried by the flea begins to develop into an adult worm, which can quickly grow to a length of nearly 2 feet! 

The other common tapeworm often found in UK cats (especially cats which go hunting) is the mouse tapeworm (Taenia taeniaeformis), which uses mice, rats and other small rodents as its intermediate hosts.

Adult tapeworms anchor themselves to the gut wall and feed on the animal’s blood. Unsurprisingly, a heavy infestation can cause anaemia (low red blood cells), lethargy, loss of appetite and a dull lifeless coat. Unlike roundworms, tapeworms are generally a problem of adult animals.

Tapeworms can also damage human health. The common ones such as the mouse and flea tapeworms are thankfully relatively harmless, but Echinococcus granulosus is rare tapeworm that can cause serious problems. Its eggs can remain dormant but viable in the soil for up to a year, and may infect vegetable and salads intended for human consumption. If they are swallowed, they can cause larval cysts in the liver, lungs or brain, which can be extremely serious – so always wash your salads carefully!

Echinococcus multilocularis is rare but is known to be the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis in humans. The life cycle of this tapeworm is indirect and sylvatic; eggs shed by the definitive host, mainly the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Europe, develop to the metacestode stage in arvicolid rodents, which serve as intermediate hosts. In accidental cases, humans as aberrant intermediate hosts may also acquire E. multilocularis infection by egg ingestion. Although a rare disease in humans, alveolar echinococcosis is of considerable public health importance because it can be lethal.

Treat tapeworms with Drontal Plus, Drontal Plus XL, Drontal CatDrontal Cat XL, and Droncit

Whipworms and Hookworms

Whipworms and Hookworms are less common that the roundworms and tapeworms mentioned so far. Ancylostoma caninum is the most important hookworm of dogs. The eggs hatch into larvae on the ground and have the ability to penetrate skin on contact. Dogs in kennelled environments often develop painful sores around their pads from these migrating larvae. They can affect both cats and dogs, and feed on the animal’s blood. The range of symptoms can be wide, from mild diarrhoea through to emaciation, blood loss, diarrhoea, dehydration and death.  These worms are not very big (around 3 inches and ½ inch respectively) but they can cause a lot of damage, particularly in young animals, where they can cause diarrhoea (often with blood), anaemia, weight loss and lethargy.

Hookworms are becoming more of a problem, mainly because the fox population is heavily infected. Studies have shown infection levels of almost 70% in foxes, and with an ever-growing urban fox population, even town and city-dwelling cats and dogs are potentially at risk. Treat withDrontal PlusDrontal Plus XL, or Drontal Puppy Suspension.

What are the signs if my cat or dog has worms?

It’s not easy to know if a cat or dog is infected with worms, particularly in the early stages. However, if severely infected, your dog or cat may suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea, and will probably lose weight and condition. In practice, roundworm infections are often symptom-less in the adult dog or cat, but cause severe problems in young animals. Heavy roundworm infections may cause a distended stomach and ‘pot-bellied’ appearance – particularly noticeable in puppies and kittens. As the larvae migrate through the puppy, pneumonia and coughing may be seen. Animals may fail to put on weight and severe infestations may be fatal.

A cat with tapeworms may spend more time than usual cleaning its bottom, since the egg-filled worm segments cause irritation.  In dogs, dragging of the bottom along the ground is a sign that is sometimes seen (though this sign may commonly be caused by other conditions e.g. anal gland problems).  You may even find segments in your dog or cat’s bedding – they are pale in colour, and about the size of a grain of rice. And, like roundworms, severe infections can cause vomiting or diarrhoea.

It’s worth remembering though, that by the time symptoms are visible, the worms have reached maturity, and are already damaging your cat or dog’s health.

Many infestations are symptom-less, and so if you don’t treat your pet regularly, it’s fairly likely your dog or cat will have worms, even if there are no signs.

How do I treat worms?

Worms are, unfortunately, impossible to prevent. There is no preventative treatment that will stop your cat or dog becoming infected. However, there are thankfully a number of very effective products that will kill worms. By killing the worms, this will also stop them from producing eggs, or segments, that will infect the environment. Remember however, that most oral worming products are effective at the time of use – they do not have a prolonged action.

It is necessary to use a worming treatment regularly – every 3 months is recommended in adult dogs and cats.

DRONTAL PLUS  for dogs and cats

We stock  Drontal Plus for effective treatment of roundworms and tapeworms, a single simple dose that can be used for puppies and pregnant and lactating bitches and of course all adult dogs. For adult dogs four treatments per year will form the basis of an effective worming regime.  Puppies should be treated from the age of 2 weeks, every 2 weeks there after until they are about 3 months of age. It is generally accepted that nursing bitches should be wormed at the same time as their puppies.

With a single dose Drontal controls every type of intestinal worm normally found in cats and dogs in the UK. Drontal Plus for dogs contains pyrantel embonate and febantel which combined have a well documented synergistic effect. Drontal Plus for dogs and Drontal Cat tablets contain praziquantel an effective and potent weapon against tapeworm.

Regular routine worming is important not only for the well being of your pet but also to protect ourselves and our children as we are in close contact with our pets. Several worm species notably the roundworm, Toxocara canis, and the tapeworm, Echinococcus granulosus can be picked up by humans with potentially serious consequences.  It is recommended that pets are wormed 3 to 4 times a year. It is difficult to prevent a dog or cat becoming infected with worms but regular use of anthelmintics will ensure that the worms are killed before they can cause serious damage to the animal’s health.

When using Drontal there is no need to disrupt the feeding routine as the tablets can be given at any time.

Drontal Puppy Suspension- Puppies & Young Dogs
For the treatment and control of roundworms of puppies and young dogs up to one year of age. Each ml of suspension contains 14.4mg pyrantel embonate and 15 mg febantel.

Worms controlled include - Ascarids:Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina Hookworms:Uncinaria stenocephala, Ancylostoma caninum Whipworms:Trichuris vulpis

Drontal Cat will control the following worm burdens:
Toxocara cati, toxascaris leonine, dipylidium, canium, taenia,taeniaeformis, Echinococcus, joyeuxiella pasqualei, ancylostoma braziliense & ancylostoma tubaeforme

Panacur Granules a wormer for cats, dogs, kittens and puppies

Adult dogs and cats
For the treatment of adult cats and dogs infected with gastro-intestinal round worms and tapeworms including Toxocara canis,Toxocara cati, Toxascaris Leoninia, Ancylostoma spp., Trichurisspp., Unicinaria spp. and Taenia spp.

Panacur Paste wormer for cats, dogs, kittens and puppies

A broad spectrum anthelmintic for the treatment of domestic dogs and cats infected with immature and mature stages of nematodes of the gastro-intestinal and respiratory tracts.

Adult dogs and cats
For the treatment of adult dogs and cats infected with gastro-intestinal nematodes and cestodes: Ascarid spp.(Toxocara canis), Toxocara cati, Toxascaris Leoninia, Ancylostoma spp., Trichurisspp., Unicinaria spp. and Taenia spp.

Weaned puppies

For the treatment of weaned puppies infected with gastro-intestinal roundworms particularly Toxocara canis,Ancylostoma spp or puppies infected with protozoa Giardia spp.

Worming Puppies and Kittens.

Research suggests that up to 70% of puppies are infected at the time of birth by Toxocara Canis worms, direct from their mothers womb. This infection is reinforced by worm larvae being present in the mothers milk and faeces. As this worm is a zoonosis (can infect humans) active worming is essential. In young puppies and kittens, worming is essential from 2 weeks of age. Panacur Granules, Panacur Paste,  or Drontal Puppy Suspension are suitable products to use at this age. Note that not all products are suitable for use at this age – consult your veterinary surgeon. Worming is essential as the pups will have been infected in the uterus (before birth) and will soon ingest worms in the mother’s milk and from the mother’s faeces.

Pregnant Bitches

In pregnant bitches, worming is essential. It will not completely eradicate transfer of worms to the puppy, but will drastically reduce it. Pregnant bitches should be treated from day 40 of pregnancy to 2 days post-birth with Panacur. Panacur contains fenbendazole. Note that not all products are suitable for use in pregnancy – consult your veterinary surgeon.

Do not forget to regularly treat your pet for fleas, as the flea is the intermediate host of the very common tapeworm Dipylidium. If you do not eliminate fleas, your cat or dog will soon be re-infected after your worming treatment ends!