Dogs are the perfect place for worms and parasites to live, and their habit of licking, sniffing and eating almost anything they find, means that there’s a high chance they’re going to come into contact them. Once they’re onboard there’s a bunch of things dogs also do that help them to be spread, such as, licking, grooming, and kissing… yes kissing, and we’re at risk as well as other dogs.
Dogs are therefore likely to encounter worms at some point, and there a variety of types of worms, each creating different dangers. Most, such as hookworms, tapeworms, whipworm, and roundworm live in dogs’ intestines. Heartworm, as the name suggests, live in dogs’ hearts and lungs. So, what’s the difference between them and how can they be prevented?
Heartworms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of their hosts and can cause serious health problems and even death. They can reach up to 30 cm in length and mosquitoes are responsible for spreading the worms from dog to dog.
There are no visible or detectable signs when a dog is first infected with heartworm, and even blood tests will not detect them initially, until 6 months later. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the heartworm infection, but common signs of the disease include an intolerance to exercise, coughing, and poor body condition, but sometime, no symptoms present.
Your vet can do a blood test to tell if your dog has heartworms. Treatment can be high risk and expensive. Prevention is unquestionably the best approach when it comes to heartworms. Your dog should NEVER miss a dose of preventatives. Talk to us about the options, and what’s best for your dog.
Dogs with hookworm look unhealthy and have poor appetites. Also, the linings of lips, nostrils and ears could be pale. Hookworm larvae getting into the lungs could cause a dog to cough. Other symptoms may also be present including diarrhoea or constipation, and dark and tarry stools. Death can occur suddenly if immediate treatment is not received.
Infestations are caused by ingestion or by penetration of the skin by larvae which are generally found in a contaminated environment or in contaminated water. Puppies commonly acquire hookworm through milk from infected mothers.
To prevent hookworm, keep your dog’s environment clean by picking up faeces daily, and follow the Vets4Pets intestinal worming protocol. Humans can also get Hookworm from the larvae penetrating their skin, making sure your dog is up to date with worming will prevent this.
The most common type of Tapeworms, Vets4Pets see are acquired by dogs eating fleas, inside the flea, is the tapeworm larvae. Tapeworm can be transmitted to people.
What’s going on at the other end of your dog is what to watch for with tapeworm. A sign of this is the visible pieces in the dog’s faeces. Dried, light-coloured segments of the worm can usually be seen in the dog’s faeces, or they may be caught in fur under the dog’s tail. Sometimes the pieces are too small to see but sometimes they’ll be small pieces the size of a grain of rice. Dragging their bottoms across the floor, and biting and licking the anus, are common responses to the itching caused by the infection.
Keeping dogs flea-free is the best prevention for tapeworm. Talk to us about the right flea treatment for your dog.
Roundworms are intestinal parasites, and all puppies are born with them, and must be treated. Humans once again can get roundworm from their dogs.
A dog with roundworm will commonly exhibit some or all of the following symptoms and signs:
- Colic (abdominal pain caused by accumulation of gas in the abdomen)
- Swollen abdomen
- Lack of energy
- Coughing (caused by larvae migrating to the lungs)
- Abnormal faeces
- Reduced / lack of appetite
It’s important to keep your dog free of fleas by using a flea topically applied medication, or an orally administered flea treatment.
For Heartworm prevention there is an injectable prevention that offers 12-month protection against heartworm, or monthly spot on treatment.
For Intestinal worming treatments to be effective you need to “over-worm”. What this means is that an 8kg dog for example, would require a 10kg dose, not 7.5kg dose.
Vets4Pets Intestinal Worming Protocol is:
Puppies from 10-14 days old are to be wormed:
Fortnightly until they are 12 weeks old (i.e. 2,4,6,8,10,12 weeks)
Then every 3 months for the rest of their life
Other things to remember are to:
- Pick up and dispose of pet droppings promptly and safely.
- Clean up your yard weekly at least, and clean up after your dog when walking him or her.
- Wash your hands after handling pets, especially after cleaning up after them.
How to worm, and what the choices are, can be confusing when you’re starting out, so don’t hesitate to call us if you need advice or assistance.