Deworming your animals

Deworming your animals


Everything you need to know about deworming animals

What is deworming?
Deworming is the giving of an anthelmintic or vermicide drug to an animal to rid them of helminths parasites, such as roundworm, flukes and tapeworm.

What are Helminths?
Helminths are worm-like parasites that survive by feeding on a living host to gain nourishment and protection, sometimes resulting in illness of the host. There are a variety of different helminths from large to microscopic. ‘Helminth’ is a general term meaning worm.

Why should you deworm?
Worms are nasty parasites that can cause multiple chronic issues such as gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, it is important to deworm your animals regularly as it contributes to your animal’s health and wellbeing.

It is particularly important to understand that worms in animals can cause severe medical issues and health conditions if left untreated.

What are the symptoms of an infestation?
The general symptoms of worm infestations will vary and include visible worms in your pet’s faeces, weakness & depression, rough hair coat, hair loss, diarrhoea, emaciation, weight loss despite a good appetite, an abnormally swollen stomach, and/or blood loss.

How often should you deworm?
When regular deworming is used, animals should be treated at an absolute minimum 3 times a year, with no more than 3 months between each treatment. This is based on some research indicating that dropping treatment from 4 to 3 times per year had very little effect on parasite levels.

When should you deworm?
They say that worming of any sort is best done during the full moon since parasites are most vulnerable at this time, this is the time when the parasites detach from the walls of the organs and intestinal lining to breed and lay eggs.


Dog’s should be wormed at least once every 3 months, or more frequently if they are hunters, around young children or the elderly. Treat your dog’s for fleas regularly too: with a spot-on treatment such as Frontline Plus or Advocate to prevent the spread of fleas and tapeworm.




All kittens should be treated for common parasites such as roundworms and hookworms at 2, 4, and 6 weeks of age. This can be done at a veterinarian, or at home.

Once the initial dewormer for cats has been given as a kitten, we recommend performing faecal tests between 2-3 times per year depending on your cat’s lifestyle and several other factors.

Most cats should be wormed at least every three months – that is four times a year, once for each season.

Prompt detection and intervention in the form of a dewormer for cats is essential for a healthy feline!


Traditionally, deworming schedules involve treatments every two months, rotating the types of dewormers to minimize the risk of the parasites building up resistance to the chemicals.  Some horses, however, can be kept perfectly healthy being dewormed only in the spring and autumn. Regular worm egg counts (FEC’s) are necessary, especially during the winter, between May and September. Horses with single high worm egg counts, regular elevated counts, or susceptible horses (young or old) do then need treating.


Ivermectin and moxidectin are the best choices to control strongyle parasites. Pyrantel, fenbendazole and oxibendazole are good for treating ascarids in young horses. Ivermectin resistance is common in ascarids.

To test a deworming program’s effectiveness, conduct FEC’s at appropriate intervals.

If the interval is too short, the results of the faecal egg count will show only how well the last dewormer worked rather than measure how well the horse’s immune system reduced levels of cyathostomin egg shedding. For example:

  • After moxidectin, wait at least 16 weeks to collect a faecal.
  • After ivermectin, wait at least 12 weeks to collect a faecal.
  • After benzimidazoles (fenbendazole/oxibendazole or pyrantel), wait at least nine weeks to collect a faecal.

Calves require more frequent deworming. Treatment should start at 3 to 4 months of age and be given again at weaning. Depending on your farm’s parasite levels, deworming every 3 months until they reach 1 year may be necessary. Yearlings can be dewormed in the spring and autum until they reach maturity.

Mature cows usually only need to be dewormed once a year. They should be treated shortly before calving. Calving is a stressful time in a cow’s life and it can lead to suppressed immune function which makes her more susceptible to parasites. Treating twice a year may be needed if you have a large parasite load


The following intestinal parasites are some of the most common types of worms

Roundworms: The most common worms of all types. Roundworms grow reach 3-5” long in adulthood, and they resemble a piece of wet spaghetti. Roundworms can be transmitted via the nursing process, by feeding on an infected animal, or by contact with the infected faeces of another animal.

Tapeworms: Tapeworms have long and flat ⅛” segmented bodies that can grow to 8 inches in length and sometimes even bigger. Tapeworms happen when an animal’s encounters or ingests a host that is carrying tapeworm eggs, like a bird or a flea.

Hookworms: Hookworms are the smallest of all common worms’ varieties. Hookworms reside primarily in the small intestine. They grow to approximately one inch in length and feed on the blood. They can cause life threatening anaemia in animals of all ages, but especially young animals. Hookworms are passed in the faeces and can infect other animals and people too.

Whipworms: Whipworms are about ¼” long and reside in the cecum and colon. Whipworms can cause severe damage to the organs and are considered one of the most harmful worms in existence, but are also more geographically distinct than other worms.

Heartworms: Heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries. They are transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which migrate throughout the body over about 6 months before finally coming to rest in the circulatory system. Heartworms are transmitted only from an infected mosquito’s bite, and not within or between species. They are preventable and treatable but can be fatal if not diagnosed and dealt with before the advanced stages of infestation.

Ringworm: Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is a skin disease caused by a fungus that results in lesions and sores on the epidermal (or outer skin) layer. Interestingly enough, ringworm is not caused by a worm at all, but rather by an infection of dead layers of skin, hair and nails. Ringworm is curable, but treatment can take time and the condition can be very painful.

This article is intended for general understanding and education. We encourage you to chat to the knowledgeable team at Assagay Feeds for more information on animal feed, medical products, or any other queries you may have.

Nothing contained in articles is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, veterinary medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; please always consult your vet.

Whilst we may only make reference to a specific product in this article, there are other suitable products stocked at Assagay Feeds. Call, email or visit us to find out more.

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