The simple answer is yes. So what? Surely if there are worms, then we need wormers? Well, unfortunately, worms are not the simple-minded creatures that they appear to be. In fact they are highly sophisticated organisms that have ‘learned’ how to survive against all the odds and, in some circumstances, are now threatening to become invincible.
Worm resistance to chemical wormers is widespread in horses, cattle and sheep. According to the British Veterinary Association (BVA), this is due mainly to the over-use of wormers as an automatic, preventative method of parasite control.
In the horse world there is widespread resistance to the few available chemical wormers with no new wonder drug on the horizon.
Cattle and sheep farmers are under immense pressure from the BVA to reduce the amount of chemical wormers used. So how long will it be before this resistance spreads to our dogs?
So how big a risk is worm infestation to our pets? If you walk your dog in the countryside or park, he can pick up internal and external parasites from the environment or from other animals (e.g. rabbits, mice, birds) which may make him seriously ill. Many of these parasites can also be passed on to you or your family, causing serious health problems. Children playing with dogs in the garden are especially in danger of picking up soil on their hands contaminated with worm eggs. This is an easy path for the Toxocara parasites to enter their bodies. Toxocara worms can cause blindness in humans.
Lungworm is potentially fatal to dogs and is rapidly spreading throughout the UK. There are three types of lungworm, two spread via slugs, snails and frogs, one via contact with infected dogs. Our charming urban foxy friends are serious carriers of lungworm!
The symptoms of all lungworm infestations include coughs, difficulty in breathing, pneumonia, weight loss and increased bleeding from wounds. Worryingly though, the dog may be completely symptom-free. Lungworm disease is very difficult to cure once contracted.
So what can we do about it? Well the conventional method of parasite control is to use chemical wormers and pesticides either every month or every three months (depending on the brand used) as a preventative measure. These chemicals will kill any parasites lurking in your dog providing you use them correctly and your dog actually takes them – and keeps them down! But what happens when dog worms become as smart as horse and cattle worms? If we allow dog parasites to become resistant too then how will we keep our dogs, and us, safe?
More recently there has been a move towards traditional, herbal and homeopathic remedies for worm control. These range from daily herbal biscuits, such as Verm-x, to garlic and diatomaceous earth preparations for the feed. All are designed to make the gut an unpleasant environment for the worms and involve no chemicals whatsoever.
Many owners choose not to worm at all, believing that parasite control is achieved with diet and supplements.
Whichever method you choose the most important thing is to know that it is working for you and your dog. This is where Wormcount.com Veterinary Laboratory comes in.
For years, enlightened horse owners have known the benefits of using worm counts as part of their routine parasite control. Whereas previously they would worm four to six times a year, they now replace most of those worming episodes with worm counts and worm only once, in winter. Farmers also use worm counts to see whether worming is necessary in their animals, only targeting those that show a positive result.
Now dogs can get in on the act too. You can worm count your pet on a regular basis, without the need for a referral from your vet. This will enable you to check that your dog is worm-free and allow for minimal use of chemical worming. If you really feel that you cannot stop using chemical wormers then you can use worm counts to ensure that your dog has swallowed his medicine and that it is working well.
Wormcount.com Veterinary Lab offers a very easy to use and cost effective service. Simply click on the ‘Worm Count Kits’ tab above and order your kits now. It will give you the most important thing in your parasite control regime – peace of mind.