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WRANGLED BY WORMS
Worming treatment has become a common practice nowadays and most of our clients try their absolute best to keep up with their beloved pets' worming schedule. Thanks to all this hard work, we seldom see the serious problems that can arise from a heavy worm burden. Unfortunately stray animals are not as lucky to have caring mums and dads looking after them. The story below highlights the importance of worming our pets:
I recently saw a stray cat which appeared relatively healthy on his physical exam but had a soft mass in his abdomen. A good samaritan had started feeding it but had soon realized something was not quite right.
He unfortunately had to be humanely euthanized, and being a very eager to learn, I asked permission of the carer to take a radiograph and perform a post-mortem on this little fellow, in the hope that it would cast a light on what was going on?..
Could it be food? Or a tumor? Could there be another disease process causing the enlarged tummy?
Step 1: Radiographs
On the radiograph, all the organs appeared normal, but for a very large stomach, full of food and bones. Could our tomcat be obstructed? This would mean he had something , for example a lump or a bone or any other foreign object, preventing the food from passing through??
The radiographs weren't going to tell us any more than this, so I proceeded to the next step.
Step 2: Post-mortem/Autopsy
Inside the abdomen of our deceased patient, all the organs looked perfectly healthy. I really expected to find the answers to our questions when I looked inside his stomach: to my dismay, other than its abnormally large size, nothing there. I however, found the source of the bones we could see on our radiographs: our kitty had eaten a whole mouse which was still sitting there! Along with a fair amount of the cat biscuits his carer had fed him. But why were they still here? Of course, it takes time to digest a meal, but the carer told me he had last eaten several hours ago, So why was he taking so long to pass that food down??
I was almost giving up - it was 8pm, I was still at the hospital and I had exhausted all the obvious options (a detailed post-mortem exam can take hours while the pathologist examines each and every organ).
I decided to give it one more go before packing up - I felt our fellow's intestines (just past the stomach) and had a hunch - there were no indications that anything other than digested food was present in the intestines but I as I sliced through with my scalpel blade, I had my answer!!!
Still very much alive and clinging on, were 8 long tapeworms! They were so big and so long that they were taking up most of the space within the intestines explaining why the food was stuck in the stomach, causing our cat to have an enlarged abdomen.
This worm is one of the various types of gut worms that cats and dogs can get - the main source being from ingesting fleas that are contaminated with tape worm eggs. As well as obstructions, tapeworms can prevent adequate nutrients uptake as well as cause various inflammatory reactions.
This is just one example of why it is so important to worm your animals. Another reason being that humans can be infected with worms after contact with our pets. It is very important to wash your hands after handling your pet. Unfortunately, it was too late for our fellow but there's still plenty of time for all of you! So before you do anything else, find out if your pets are covered and drop by the hospital for your Milbemax worming tablets!