The European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) recommends that cats and dogs are wormed at least every 3 months – a minimum of 4 times a year. However, younger animals and those whose lifestyle makes them more vulnerable to infection – such as cats and dogs that hunt – may need more regular worming.

Tapeworms
This group of worms can be contracted by eating wild animals such as dead rabbits, but one species (Dipylidium caninum) can be contracted from fleas. While most dogs show no signs when they are infected with worms, there are many possible problems that can occur, from itchy bottoms, to digestive problems and liver disease. One species, Echinococcus, can also infect humans and can even cause death.

Roundworms
Round worms can be contracted in many ways – from soil or hunting, from other dogs, even in the womb! These are the worms that can cause problems in puppies – heavy numbers can cause blockages or even death. These worms can also infect humans. They migrate around the body and can damage the systems they move through – even leading to blindness.

Whipworms
Whipworms are ingested from the environment. They can cause anaemia, diarrhoea and weight loss.

Hookworms
Animals are infected by ingesting larvae from the environment. Dogs can also become infected, by eating a host (such as small mammals) containing infective larvae, which develop into adult hookworm in the intestine. In addition to this larvae can penetrate skin and cause infection, usually of skin around the feet.

Lungworm
Dogs can become infected with this life-threatening parasite by swallowing infected slugs and snails. Symptoms can be varied, but can include, coughing, tiring easily, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive bleeding from minor wounds and seizures. A dog may show one or any combination of these. More information can be found here.