Your Kids are Going to Get Worms.

animals have worms

Today’s topic is brought to you by the letter W and the number 1 million-trillion-bazillion {more on this number choice later}. And today’s topic is…..WORMS! Yum. If you haven’t eaten yet today, go do that and then come back and read this. I’ve spoken with a fair number of people lately who are having all sorts of varied issues with all sorts of varied species – chickens, horses, dogs, goats, etc. – and I have all given them the EXACT same advice for their issue. What? Really? All different species and all different issues? Yes. And all the same advice. Here it is:

“My first step would be to try deworming your animal and then trouble-shoot from there.”

The reason this advice applied to all the issues is because, based on the conversations I had, the nutrition was there, the regular vaccination care was there, the housing situation was appropriate, the only glaring thing they hadn’t done was deworm.

Deworming is a really simple way to solve a myriad of issues with your animals.

Issues associated with worms present themselves pretty similarly within a species, but sometimes can cause random problems as well. There are multiple species of worms that can affect just one species of animal, or there are worms that can affect several. Another tricky things worms do is have different parts of their life cycle affect different species – this is called having an intermediate host. For example, sheep act as the intermediate hose for Echinococcus granulosus, a common parasite in sheep that causes liver cysts. When the sheep sheds the parasite {poops}, it’s ingested by the definitive host – dogs {because they are gross and eat poop} – and the cycle is complete and ready to begin all over again. Yum, right? Another example is Trichuris vulpis, or whip worms. The eggs get passed through the hosts feces and infect an appropriate intermediate host, which can be almost any livestock species, companion animal AND humans. Um, ew.

There are literally hundreds of worms for all the species of animals out there. I have pages and pages of notes on them. But the good news is there are great ways to get rid of and manage them.

First, let’s talk about how you know if your animals have worms.

  1. They do.
  2. They do.
  3. They really, really do.
  4. I promise.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, here’s why. Animals have worms and will always get worms because they live outside, eat off the ground, poop on the same ground, and parasites are little tiny and you can’t just clean them up when you clean up the poop {although that greatly helps}. If you have animals, your animals will have worms at some point. The right question you should be asking is, “How many and what kind?” I’m not telling you this to freak you out, I’m telling you this so you can handle the problem you already have. Ignoring big issues like this and just pretending they don’t exist is not an option and probably means you do the same thing in other areas of your life and should go seek professional help. Ahem.

Anyways.

Parasites and worms are a real issue and no amount of garlic is going to solve it. Don’t be offended, it’s just the facts. Garlic and other natural/organic/whatever other label you’d like to use are fantastic preventative measures, but they are not capable of handling an issue that is already there. Dewormer you pick up from your vet or the farm and ranch store is specifically targeted towards certain parasite species. These dewormers work – we use them for a reason. You can use them incorrectly and cause resistance, but with a proper deworming schedule you’ll be just fine. I always recommend asking your vet for their recommended dewomer{s} and schedule for your area. Where you live can also determine which kind of worms are a big issue for you.

Find out if your goat, chickens, dogs, cats, horse, cattle, or sheep have worms! Serious issue that is easy to manage and prevent. Read about how to deal with it on your property or farm!

What kinds of issues do worms cause?

There are a lot, but I’ll run through the most common ones I’ve been hearing lately.

  1. Odd calcium deposits on chicken eggs
  2. Shell-less chicken eggs.
  3. Feathers failing to grow back on chickens.
  4. Horses, cattle, sheep, goats, failing to shed their winter coat properly.
  5. Pot-bellied animals with showing ribs.
  6. Animals that are being provided all the right nutrition but are still hard keepers.
  7. General listlessness in animals that seem otherwise healthy {sign that something internal is wrong}.
  8. Dull coat or eyes.
  9. Diarrhea.
  10. Weight loss.

Now, of course these could all be more serious issues, but I always like to start with the quickest, simplest solution. Deworming takes maybe 5 minutes total and will give you quick results. If you have a big concern, schedule a vet appointment and ask if you should try deworming.

Additionally, certain worms and other parasites really can be transferred to you and your children.  And that is just totally disgusting. Not to mention potentially dangerous. Again, I’m not trying to freak you out. I’m just trying to illustrate why this is something you should be taking seriously. To avoid this issues altogether, let’s talk about worm and parasite prevention.

They’ll never all go away…but a lot of them can.

The most accurate way to determine what is referred to as the “parasite load” of your animals is to get a fecal float done by your vet. This is exactly what it sounds like. You get fresh poop from your animals, put it in a special little container with some water {or saline…can’t remember exactly…it’s been a while} that pushes down the poop and allows the parasites to float up in the water. Then you {well, probably your vet} will look at the water with the parasites in it under a microscope and determine what they have. For most of the people I work with, I don’t usually tell anyone this is necessary unless there are serious issues they are dealing with and the vet recommends it. Most of the time, these few steps will ensure a greatly reduced parasite load along with healthier, happier animals.

  1. Deworm on a schedule recommended by your veterinarian. Usually this is twice a year, spring and fall, but always check with your vet. They know the area best and know which wormers will work well for your animals.
  2. Keep poop picked up! Pick up poop often, like daily, and then get rid of it or keep it somewhere where it will compost correctly {i.e. get hot enough to kill the parasites/worms}. You can also spread it in areas like pastures. This allows it to dry and will also kill the parasites. Just make sure there isn’t too much being spread.
  3. Disinfect animal housing yearly. And when I say disinfect, I mean it. I love my vinegar and lemon juice cleaners {yes, I make them} but barn disinfectant day ain’t no time for those. Pull out that bleach, baby! Mix it up and really spray it on there – just be sure to rinse.
  4. If you have multiple species, keep them separated and then rotate the areas you keep them in. Some worm species can transfer between livestock species, but most cannot. Rotating cattle on certain areas of pasture and then putting your horse or another species on there is a great way to stop the worm life cycle and keep numbers down.
  5. Just buy the dang Heartworm meds for you dogs. Really. I know it’s a monthly thing and can be expensive but your dogs EAT POOP FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And there really isn’t much you can do about it when they have acres to roam and you can’t watch everything they find and eat 24/7. Heartworm meds not only take care of heartworms, but also deworm for other intestinal parasites. If you live in an area where mosquitos aren’t an issue {mosquitos transfer heartworms to dogs}, you can ask your vet about only giving it from about April to October, but I can promise you that your dogs will still be eating poop from November to March. Sorry, it’s just the facts. Don’t let them lick your face anymore, mmkay? Being educated in this stuff sure can just sap the love right out of some of your animal relationships, huh?
  6. Don’t let cats do their business in a litter box inside. Or in a litter box at all. I know we have a barn cat that comes inside. Ugh. Believe me, I know. I think about the worms all the time. But he isn’t in here a lot and by golly we sure as…well, you know…don’t have a litter box. Keeping hunting cats dewormed is such a struggle because they kill so many disgusting things {which we are grateful for!} that carry disgusting worms. I just do them twice a year too and hope that it’s keeping things under control.

And really, that’s it! Worms and other parasite are super gross and can cause many issues in your animals, but keeping them under control is pretty simple.

Here are some articles on preventing worms with more detail on various species. Peruse at your leisure – I know, it’s my idea of a glorious summer afternoon as well. 🙂

  1. Sheep
  2. Goats
  3. Beef cattle
  4. Cattle, general
  5. Dairy cattle
  6. Pigs
  7. Heartworm, dogs
  8. Horses {1}
  9. Horses {2}
  10. Cats
  11. Chickens {1}
  12. Chickens {2}
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