Our top ten tips for an effective worming strategy

Most animals need to be wormed at some point. And many of us assume our animal will be protected if we worm it every three months, using the same off-the-shelf treatment.

However, if we want to protect our animals effectively, we should all develop a far more considered approach to how we worm them.

As we understand more about the effect different worms can have, and how they are developing resistance to treatments, so we can better plan our worming strategy and keep our animals healthy.

Take a look at our advice below. It will help you protect your animals now and in the future.

1. Only worm when necessary

There’s no point worming an animal that doesn’t have worms. Not only is it a waste of money, but the incorrect use of worming treatments (anthelmintics) is contributing to the rate at which worms are developing resistance to treatments (anthelmintic resistance). Anthelmintic resistance is a growing, global problem that we need to overcome.

If you’re not sure whether your animal needs worming, the best way to find out is through a worm egg count (WEC). This test uses a sample of your animal’s faeces to determine whether or not your animal is infected with worms. It can also tell you the type of worm your animal is infected with.

For more information please visit our WEC page.

2. Use the right wormer

Along with only worming your animal when necessary, it’s also important you use a wormer that has been developed to treat the specific worm your animal is carrying. This will give you better results and is another important way you can help slow the rate of anthelmintic resistance.

As well as confirming whether or not your animal has worms, a worm egg count can accurately identify the type of parasite present.

3. Don’t assume if you have more than one animal that they’re all infected

Not all animals are affected by parasites in the same way. So even if one of your animals has a severe infection, it doesn’t mean all your animals will have.

Some animals, for example younger and older ones, can also be more susceptible to infection than others.

4. Understand the risk in your area

Some areas are more at risk of certain infections than others. For example, liver fluke is more prevalent on land that doesn’t drain well. Therefore it is worth becoming familiar with any specific risks where you live or in areas that you are planning to visit with your animal.

5. Be aware of the signs of an infection

The more severe an infection, the higher the risk to your animal of significant disease – or even death. So make sure you are familiar with all the signs of infection relating to particular worms and look out for them carefully.

We have information on this site on the worms most commonly found in horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry game and birds, and the signs and symptoms you should look out for.

6. Use WECs to check for resistance

As more and more worms are developing resistance to treatments, it is vital we make sure those we use remain effective. It’s also possible that over time a treatment you initially had success with can become less effective.

Regular worm egg counts will help you monitor how well your treatments continue to work.

7. If in doubt, always ask your vet

If you are in any doubt about whether your animal is infected with worms, whether you should treat them and what treatment you should use, please ask your vet for advice. They will be happy to help you and their advice now could help prevent a more costly problem later.

8. Do what you can to prevent infection

Along with treating your animal with a suitable wormer once they have picked up an infection, there are things you can do to help prevent an infection developing.

For example: keep your stables and pasture free from manure; don’t allow your dog to feed from carcasses, raw meat or offal; graze young and vulnerable stock on fresh pasture; and alternate grazing for sheep and cattle.

9. Keep records

Keep accurate records of when you last wormed your animal and which treatment you used. This will help you worm at appropriate intervals and monitor the effectiveness of treatments.

10. Keep new stock separated until you have treated them for worms

When you buy in new stock you won’t know if they’re carrying an infection, whether they were in close contact with infected animals and the condition of the pasture they were grazing or the sheds they were housed in.

Therefore, until you have found out if they are infected, and treated them if necessary, always house and graze new stock separately.

To order a worm egg count for your animal please click here. [link to WEC page]

For more information on the worms that most commonly affect domestic pets and working animals please click here. [link to companion animals page]