Types of worms affecting dogs and puppies
Yearly stool checks are the secret to deworming
Dogs and puppies are prone to various types of parasites and therefore, it is very important to have your dog or puppy routinely screened to rule out these annoying worms. All it takes is a yearly fecal test which is easy to obtain, all you will need to do is collect a small fresh fecal amount (a teaspoon size is sufficient) put in into a clean container and label it with your dog's name and time it was collected.
Collecting a fresh sample is important to grant testing accuracy, keep in mind that if the stool sample is dry and older than 12 hours it may not be accepted by your veterinarian. Puppies should be tested at a very young age as they are more often than not affected by worms.
As a dog owner, you may be tempted to save money by diagnosing and treating your dog yourself by purchasing over the counter dewormers. I would discourage doing this since each worm needs different treatments. Also dewormer dosages are based on weight and therefore, it is best if your vet can professionally weigh your dog and give you dosage instructions along with information about possible side effects.
The most common worms found in dogs are;
Following, is a brief description of each parasite and the symptomalogy accompanying infestations.
Resembling long strands of spaghetti, roundworms may be found still alive in the dog's feces or vomit. These worms are commonly found in puppies since they may be born with them or get through their mother's milk. Routine dewormings are highly recommended and repeated to prevent re-infestation. In adult dogs, infestations occur when the dog gets in contact with soil infestated with hardy roundworm eggs or by ingesting feces contaminated with roundworm eggs.
Roundworms are not species specific meaning that humans can get them as well. Hand washing should be enforced especially with children playing near soil and infestated ares. Even though rare, small children have been affected by larvae that have migrated in the eyes even creating irreversable blindness.
Dogs with roundworms commonly develop the following symptoms:
Pot-belly (especially in puppies)
Weight loss despite eating well
Cough (when worms migrate to lungs)
Treatment consists of deworming medication with a stool recheck after 3-4 weeks to ensure the infestation is under control. Common dewormers used are as follows:
Pyrantel Pamoate (Nemex)
Other roundoworm active ingredients may be included in heartworm medications such as Interceptor or Heartguard Plus. Check the label accordingly.
Resembling grains of rice, tapeworm segments may be found exiting a dog's rectum or in places where the dog often lays down. These segments dry up once exited shrinking in size. The actual tapeworm lives attached to the dog's stomach lining. Tapeworm infestation occurs when the dog ingests an infected flea or ingests wildlife animals that were infected.
Most infestations produce little or no symptoms. The most common symptom is a rectal irritation as the tapeworm segments exit causing a dog to scoot or lick the recal area.
Tapeworms are effectively killed by giving the appropriate dewormer, a common one used is: Praziquantel(Droncit). In order to prevent re-infestation it is also very important to get rid of the fleas found on the dog by using a good topical flea preventative and effectively treating the environment as well.
These parasites are rarely seen in the stool, however, when visible they look like thin tiny pieces of thread with a typically enlarged end. Transmission occurs when a dog drinks or eats from an egg infestated bowl or floor. When heavily infestated dogs may exhibit the following symptoms:
Stool with mucous
Stools with blood
Common dewormers used to treat whipworm infestation are as follows:
Pyrantel Pamoate (Nemex)
Other roundworm active dewormers may be included in heartworm medications such as Interceptor or Heartguard Plus. Check the label accordingly.
It is important to keep dogs off the contaminated areas as there are really no ways for killing the hardy eggs.
These worms live in the dog's small intestine. They are often found in puppies as they are tranmistted often by birth and lactation. The larvae are very hardy and are tranmitted by ingestion or by entering the skin.
Symptoms observed in affected animals are as follows:
Black tarry stools
Cough (suggesting larvae migrated t othe lungs)
Hookworms are zoonotic, meaning people can become infested as well. Infestation occurs by the larvae entering the skin and causing a condition known as "cutaneous larva migrans".
Infestations are controlled by giving the following dewormers:
Pyrantel Pamoate (Nemex)
Other active hookworm dewormers may be included in heartworm medications. Check the label accordingly.
You may have heard of heartworms but these are not intestinal parasites, rather they are worms that grow in the heart's ventricle causing serious problems and even death. A mosquito basically deposits heartworm eggs which will migrate into the heart causing a cough that will not go away. Once adult these worms will clog the main blood vessels causing major damage. This debilitating condition is prevented by giving heartworm medication. Very important is to have the dog tested for heartworms before giving heartworm medicine. Failure to do so can cause serious complications should the dog have heartworms and even death.
Coccidia and Giardia are parasites that can be found in stool samples as well. These are not really worms but protozoans that need a different course of action. Usually antibiotics are required for a full recovery.
Deworming a dog is not a difficult task, all it takes is a stool sample, medication and hygienic practices to prevent the infestation from re-occurring. In most cases, a stool re-check is recommended to ensure all parasites have been properly removed. Yearly stool samples are recommended as well to keep your dog and your home free of these annoying parasites.
Always have your dog tested for heartworms before starting any preventatives!
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