How often should we deworm our pets?

According to various studies and depending on the area you live in (city or rural area), up  to 30% of our animals are carriers of various parasites, including several types of worms  round (nematodes) and flatworms (tapeworms), most of them transmitable to humans.

Deworming should be performed both in puppies and adult animals as well as pregnant bitches/cats (as they can often transmit these parasites to their offspring).

It is therefore important to check our animals and set up a regular routine of at least four times a year. Just a simple protocol and some hy-gienic measures to prevent transmission: Apart from collecting pet droppings and disposing of them appropriately it is essential to prevent the reproduction of these parasites by avoiding the feeding of raw meat. Try and restrict contact with wild animals (rodents and insects such as flies, cockroaches, etc.) and access to fields or gardens where children play.

Recent European guidelines use a philosophy more geared towards individual risks for each animal. These guidelines recommend that if regular deworming is used, animals should be treated at least four times a year, with no more than three months between
each treatment. This is based on some research indicating that dropping treatment to three-four times per year had no effect on parasite levels. This approach is more  conservative (in terms of the number of treatments) and probably has less of an impact on the development of resistance, but it requires more organisation and thought. If used properly, it’s probably a good approach.

Heartworm Photo from JG vets

There really can’t be a ‘one program fits all’ approach that properly addresses the risks for all pets (and people) in all regions. Tailoring the deworming strategy to your pet, based on your pet’s and your family’s risk, is the logical approach.

Regardless of the chosen approach, regular fecal testing is a good (and underused) way to assess what’s going on with parasites in your pet, and to identify treatment failure or the emergence of drug resistance.

Monthly heartworm prevention has an impact on what you do as well, since typical  heartworm preventives are also effective against roundworms and hookworms, the main  parasites targeted by routine deworming. If you are in a region where heartworm is  present, monthly treatment during the heartworm season is indicated, and the main  decision that needs to be made is what to do the rest of the year (where heartworm isn’t a  risk year-round).

This article was published in Costa Blanca News.