Worms in Dogs and Cats
We have a question about our eight-week-old poodle Abbey. Can our children get worms from her? We don't know much about worms but heard that all puppies have them.
Your question is a good one and touches an important subject. Zoonotic (from animal to disease) transmission of worms can be a very serious problem, especially for children. The good news is that you can prevent it by taking a few simple measures. First, you should understand that humans are not part of the normal life cycles of the worms that affect dogs and cats. The eggs of roundworms and hookworms can enter our bodies. They cannot grow into adult worms but their larval stages can damage certain organs in our bodies such as our eyes. Roundworm eggs usually are taken in through the mouth by children playing in contaminated soil or grass. Hookworm larvae can enter the body directly through the skin. This may sound alarming but a few simple measures can keep the situation form occurring. Puppies may start passing roundworm eggs as early as three weeks of age. Kittens start a few weeks later. It is important to begin deworming puppies at 2 -3 weeks old and kittens at 6 weeks. Repeat the process every two weeks. Since Abbey is eight weeks old, she may already have been wormed by the breeder. Breeders may have no parasite problem if they often have regular stool checks for parasites. You should talk with the breeder and your veterinarian to decide which is best for your situation. In addition, until you know Abbey is free of worms, you should keep your children away from areas contaminated with feces. Do not let them eat dirt and encourage them to wash their hands after play and before eating. Cover your sandbox when it is not being used to prevent cats from eliminating in it. It is also advisable to clean up after the dog and keep the yard free of feces. As Abbey gets older, she should have an annual physical exam including a check for worms. Though worms are more a puppy problem, they can also infect adult dogs and cats. Also make sure that your community is one of the many that ban indiscriminate roaming of dogs and cats. Preventing the spread of worms is one reason behind such ordinance.