Worms In Dogs: Should They Be Of Concern?
If you are a new pet parent, you can be forgiven for not knowing too much about worm infestation in dogs. Even experienced pet owners can sometimes struggle when it comes to this topic, so it is imperative that more awareness is raised regarding this matter. In this blog post, I will do just that. Everything that you need to know about worms in dogs will be addressed.
Why Do Dogs Have This Problem?
As most of you have probably seen, dogs tend to sniff, lick and gobble everything in their paths including but not limited to garbage, dirt, poop and spoilt food. This leaves them vulnerable to attacks from worms and other parasites. Also, it essentially means that there is no foolproof method to keep worms away from dogs at all times. Sure, there are things you can do to minimize the risks (which we will look at shortly), but there is no guarantee that your dog will never have issues with worms. In fact, it is more likely that your pet will have a worm infestation than not. This is precisely why vets recommend deworming puppies very soon after they are born.
Okay, So There Are Worms. Why Is It Such A Big Deal?
I was actually asked this question by someone recently. Sadly, a lot of people seem to take worms in dogs very lightly. It is very important that we address this ridiculous notion at the outset and debunk it. Worms are a big deal, period. Forget about everything else for a minute; certain dog worms can pose a threat to human beings. Toxocara Canis, one of the most common dog worms, can be passed on to humans in the blink of an eye. Now, it is true that a healthy adult will experience little to no problems because of this (due largely to a fully developed immune system), it is equally true that children can experience significant problems if they ingest worm eggs including but not limited to blindness and seizures.
Symptoms Of Worm Infestation In Dogs
Symptoms of worm infestation in dogs can be almost non-existent. Therefore, it is all the more important that you pay attention to potential signs.
Incessant Sledging or/and Scratching
If your pet seems to be rubbing its bottom along the ground all the time, then a closer inspection may be warranted. Whilst both sledging and scratching may be completely harmless, or a result of some other condition entirely, worms could very well be the culprit.
Constant Growling, Barking Or Howling
It is in the nature of dogs to howl, growl and bark every now and then. It is also natural if your pet barks its head off every once in a while. However, if this becomes a routine thing, then you must start looking for an underlying cause as it could be worms. For example, if you have calm dog breed at home, pitbull lab mix, and suddenly goes wild barking or howling, it is probably worth a check. It maybe because of worms.
Soft stools and sometimes blood may be an indication that there are worms present in your pet’s intestines
Dogs by their very nature are active and energetic. They are always on the lookout for new people to meet, new places to visit and new things to explore. If your pet is unusually inactive or low in energy, then it should set off a few red flags in your head and get the alarm bells ringing. This is one of the more commonly reported symptoms of worms.
The coat is an excellent barometer of your pet’s health. A healthy dog will almost invariably have a thick and shiny coat. If you notice your dog’s coat starting to get dry and lose its shine, then it could denote a worm infestation.
Types Of Worms And Their Treatments
Worms in dogs can be broadly classified into 6 categories:
Dogs may get tapeworms by swallowing fleas which carry tapeworms. They also have the tendency to lick themselves a lot which also makes them a soft target for tapeworms. Tapeworms are extremely small and are passed in the feces. They weaken dogs by absorbing some nutrients when they attach to the intestine.
Treatment: A tablet or injection by a vet is enough to get rid of tapeworms.
Mosquito bites are the primary reason for heartworms in dogs. Sometimes as big as 14 inches, heartworms can wreak havoc with your pet’s heart by sabotaging the flow of blood to the lungs. This can cause blood clots and eventually death if left untreated.
Treatment: The good news is that heartworm prevention treatments are quite effective. Standard treatment involves a couple of injections of arsenic-based drugs and a couple of months of complete rest.
Roundworms feed off the food of their hosts. They can cause diarrhea in adult dogs and even death in puppies. They are commonly spread during pregnancy or nursing.
Treatment: Prescription products are quite effective against roundworms.
Whipworms work by sucking the blood of their hosts by residing in the area where the large intestine crosses paths with the small intestine. Usually, dogs pick up whipworms from contaminated soil.
Treatment: Oral dewormer is your best bet against whipworms with proven effectiveness.
As with whipworms, hookworms’ modus operandi is also to suck the blood of their hosts. Puppies tend to catch hookworms from their mothers. A hookworm infestation causes your dog to become weak and lethargic, so watch out for the signs.
Treatment: A couple of rounds of deworming medicine usually do the trick.
The term “ringworm” is a bit of a misnomer because ringworms are not actually worms but a skin infection. Dogs can pick up ringworms when their skin comes into contact with fungus.
Treatment: Oral medication and ointments are usually prescribed for ringworms.
By now, I hope you appreciate the magnitude of the worm problem in dogs. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Keep your home spic and span and your yard clean. Control worm carrying pests and eliminate them before they can do damage. If you suspect your dog has worms, go to a vet right away. The majority of intestinal worms are simple enough to treat. As a pet parent, it is your duty to be ever ready for such eventualities. Happy deworming!