Those of us who keep a dog as a pet generally know just how important it is to keep them parasite-free Since dog worms are often in the dirt, or are transmitted by fleas or mosquitos, you can see how it wouldn’t be a surprise that your dog could have worms. What you might find surprising is that your dog could have these parasites curled up in their intestines and they may not show any symptoms of illness. However, a bad case of worms will leave your dog with a lack of appetite or lethargy. These parasites can even potentially kill your dog.
Common worms that can cause harm to your dog
There are five types of dog worms. These include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms. These are all internal parasites that your dog can pick up throughout daily life.
They attach themselves to your dog’s intestinal lining and breed thousands of eggs within just a few days. Your dog can pick up hookworms easily by walking through wet grass or contaminated soil.
Roundworms can be found in contaminated soil and faeces, both of which some dogs are apt to eat. These are also found in most new-born puppies. Their mother’s milk passes on roundworms, and virtually every puppy wellness exam contains a worming process. These dog worms can cause serious infection if left untreated. Symptoms include colic, vomiting, lethargy, and a swollen tummy among other issues.
One of the most common ways that they’re transmitted is through fleas. Fleas swallow the worm larvae; your dog can ingest the flea, and thus the tapeworm, during self-grooming. Tapeworm eggs can also live infected soil. So your dog could ingest them by licking his paws after a walk. Many dogs won't show symptoms of a tapeworm infestation.
Your dog might lick the soil, or burrow his nose in it - we've all seen it happen. Your dog could also get some of the soil in his food or water dishes. This worm can lead to severe diarrhoea
These are extremely dangerous if left untreated as they fill your dog's heart and lung area. Transmitted by infected mosquitos, they're quite common so it's important to keep your prescription updated and make sure Max has his monthly dose. Unlike the other worms described, heartworms are detected via a blood test, which will be necessary before beginning any heartworm preventive regimen.
How to protect your dog from worms?
To protect your dog and your home, you can wipe down your dog’s paws when you come in from walks. Even just a quick wipe with a damp cloth can help reduce your dog and your home’s exposure to larvae. Additionally, always wash your hands thoroughly after petting your dog to prevent transmitting them to you.
When to De worm your dog or cat?
It is recommended that your puppy or kitten is dewormed every 2 weeks until they reach 3 months of age. Puppies and kittens are usually born with parasites passed on from mom (even if mom is dewormed) before they are born. After this, in our area, deworming depends on exposure risk. Please discuss this with your vet. Sometimes we can see little wiggly worms in our pet’s faeces, but this is not always the case. When in doubt, a faecal examination is done to check for parasites.
There are certain factors that can increase exposure. Consider this
- What parasites are in the area where you live?
- Has your pet travelled anywhere in the past few months? Other provinces or countries can potentially expose your pet to different species of parasites.
- What is your pet’s risk of exposure?
- Do they go outside?
- Do they have contact with many other animals?
Are Pet owners at risk from these worms: Children, the elderly, pregnant women, cancer patients, diabetics and anyone else with a suppressed immune system are at a greater risk. Many dogs and cat parasites are “zoonotic”, meaning they are transmissible from animals and cause disease in humans. Be cautious and take extra care if there is anyone in your household who might be at a greater risk for exposure.
There are easy steps to take to lower the risk of infection of your pets, your family and yourself:
- Pick up after your pet on walks and in your yard.
- Cover sandboxes when not in use and keep garden areas protected.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after disposing of animal faeces.
- Discuss the most practical, effective parasite prevention program for your pets.