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Intestinal Health & Worms: How to keep YOUR dog and cat naturally worm-free!

Intestinal Health & Worms: How to keep YOUR dog and cat naturally worm-free!

How to keep your pet worm-free naturally

Our pets often become infected with internal and external parasites at some point in their life time. These parasites affect their ability to absorb nutrients, damage the lining of the intestinal tract and can cause your dog or cat to become  ill. It is very important to take care of your pet’s intestinal health by protecting them against parasites.

We look at effective ways how you can keep your dog or cat naturally worm-free, without affecting their health!  

What types of worms do you find in cats and dogs?

Cats and dogs develop different types of worms and these include tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. While tapeworms and worms cannot be seen externally, they can be detected in the stool. Hook and whipworms are tiny and can hardly be seen in the stool.

Tapeworms in dogs and cats are spread by fleas. Fleas enjoy feasting on tapeworm eggs found on rodents or wildlife. When your pet grooms himself or licks his skin, he swallows the flea and thus becomes infected with tapeworm. Tapeworm can also be spread through raw meat or food that is not prepared properly. 

These worms have a small head with repeating segments making up the rest of the body.  While they seldom cause an animal to feel sick, a common sign of infestation is tapeworm segments in the stool. These segments look like sesame seeds or grains of rice and can be found in pet stool, on their bedding or around their anus.

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Roundworms are commonly found inside the intestinal tract of cats and dogs. Nursing kittens and puppies may contract roundworm from the mother’s milk.

The larvae grows up to five inches in length in the intestinal tract and sheds eggs while trying to survive in the kitten or puppy. When adult worms pass eggs in the stool, the animal or other cats or dogs may eat the infected stool – this is how re-infestation occurs.

Cats and dogs can also become infected from roundworms which live in the soil for many years.

Whipworms are more commonly seen in dogs than cats. They are approximately 6mm long and live in the large intestine of dogs. These worms resemble tiny pieces of thread, with one end enlarged. They shed very few eggs and are therefore quite difficult to detect.

Whipworms can live in the environment for a few months or even up to five years. They can be found in food, water, soil, in animal skin or stool.

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Hookworms are more common in dogs than in cats. These small, thin worms attach to the intestinal wall lining and feed on your pet. Dogs and cats contract hookworms from stool-contaminated soil that directly infects their feet or skin. Hookworm larvae can also be transmitted from the nursing mother to the kitten or pup.

What are the symptoms and signs of worms in dogs and cats?

In most cases, pet owners will not even know that their cat or dog has worms because there may not be any visible symptoms. Some worm eggs can live in your pet’s body without causing any major health problems.

However, when the worms increase, your pet’s body is put under stress and symptoms start to surface. Intestinal worms such as hookworms and roundworms also infect pets during the late stages of pregnancy and as a result soon-to-be puppies and kittens are affected.

The most common symptoms of worms in puppies and kittens are poor growth, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, lacklustre coat and lack of energy.

Adult pets have a general poor appearance, dull, brittle and lacklustre skin and coat, are underweight or even quite bony, and may experience diarrhoea and listlessness.  You may also notice your dog ‘scooting’ along the ground.

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Can people catch worms from pets?

The short answer is yes, most intestinal worms can pass from dogs and cats to their owners and this is another good reason to protect your family by keeping your animals healthy and worm free!

A holistic approach to keeping your pet’s intestinal system in balance

Adult dogs and cats should be dewormed every 3 to 4 months while puppies and kittens every 3 months. While over the counter chemical worm medicines can be effective in eradicating worms, they are basically pesticides and can therefore also compromise your pet’s health too. A holistic approach is far more beneficial to your cat or dog and can be just as effective. Here are some tips on how to control worms in your pet without compromising health.

  • Use a natural de-worming remedy 
Use a natural deworming remedy for pets such as Feelgood Pets Worm Dr to expel intestinal worms such as roundworm, tapeworm or hookworm and to help cleanse the system from infection. Also add Vondi’s Diatomaceous Earth to their food. Diatomaceous Earth is  a natural worm and parasite repellent – simply sprinkle over your pet’s food! Keep your family worm-free by using Worm Dr from the Feelgood Health range to eradicate intestinal worms and promote healthy digestive
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  • Treat your pet for fleas

The most effective way to control fleas on your pets is to treat them directly all year round. Use natural treatments which are much gentler and safer for your dog or cat – try a combination of the Vondi’s Tick & Flea Pet Shampoo, Vondi’s Khakibos Spray or Vondi’s Flea & Tick Powder.  It is important that you treat your pet for fleas every four weeks. Use a flea comb on your dog or cat to check for and remove fleas. 

  • . Boost your pet’s immune system

Animals with a weakened immune system are far more likely to develop a parasite overload and have a problem with worms than animals with a strong healthy immune system. This is because a healthy immune system helps to keep parasites in the body under control.

This is also true of other parasites like fleas – while all pets pick up the occasional flea from time to time, dogs and cats with weakened immune systems are much likelier to develop a bad flea infestation. A healthy immune system is therefore key, and the place to start if you want to protect your pet from a worm overload.Regular courses of a herbal immune tonic such as Feelgood Pets Immunity & Liver Support will do the trick!

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  • Let food be their medicine!

 If your cat or dog has a recurring worm infestation, boost their immune system by feeding them a healthy diet filled with all the essential nutrients. An all-natural diet from DoggoBone Active Raw Food or the Vondi’s range (available at the Feelgood Health store, 15A Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town) contains no preservatives and is perfect to keep your dog healthy and strong.

  • Check your pet’s faeces

While checking your dog or cat’s faeces may not be on your list of favourite things to do, it could help to prevent further illness. As we have mentioned, not all worms can be detected by simply looking at the faeces, which may have to be checked microscopically. However, you can spot rice-like segments in tapeworm around your pet’s anus and on bedding - which you can inform your vet about.
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  • Remove pet stool daily

If your pet eliminates in your garden or backyard, remove stool every day to keep the area clean. Monitor your dog closely when taking him for walks, especially in parks because these are areas which are usually infected with worm eggs.

By taking preventative measures and using a holistic approach to intestinal health, you will be able to protect and keep your pets healthy and free from intestinal worms. 

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