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What You Need To Know About Dog Worms

Updated on June 19, 2011

As a dog owner, intestinal and internal worms are just something you learn is a part of life. However, some worms are much more serious for humans than others, so it is absolutely essential for both your health as well as that of your beloved pet that you keep him or her wormed on a regular basis.

Knowing the basic types of internal parasites your dog may be hosting is the first step. The second step is to determine what type of worming treatment you want to use to keep your pet safe and yourself and your family healthy.

Roundworms

Roundworms are perhaps the most common worm found in any type of animal. They are particularly problematic because they can be passed from dogs to humans, especially to children that don't practice good hygiene after playing with dogs and puppies.

Roundworms can be seen relatively easily when the infestation is bad. They are long, whitish worms that look a lot like cooked spaghetti. Often roundworms will be seen in the fecal material or around the anal area. Puppies often have roundworms and the typical pot-bellied look is a dead giveaway that there is a worm problem.

Dog Roundworm

Roundworms can be transmitted from the mother dog to the puppies through the placenta before the puppies are born or through her milk as the puppies nurse. Dogs or puppies can also eat infected animals such as rats, mice or squirrels, or even eat dirt where roundworm eggs are present. Puppies need to be wormed every two weeks until they are 12 weeks of age, then once a month until 6 months. Most dogs over this age will only need worming once or twice a year unless they are in contact with other dogs. Another possible reason for increased worming frequency is if they are in an area where there has been a problem with worms and the eggs are still in the soil.

Remove all dog fecal material and keep your dog's play area as clean and sanitary as possible. Teach children to wash their hands after playing with dogs or puppies or playing in areas where dogs are present.

Hookworms

Hookworms

Another one of the nasty parasites that can be transmitted from dogs to humans, hookworms are particularly problematic because they live in the soil for months. When people, going barefoot, or dogs walk across the ground the larvae actually hooks into the skin, then burrow into the body. The larvae then migrate through the body to the dog's intestines where they attach to the intestinal walls, causing malnutrition, anemia, bleeding and diarrhea. The same conditions will be found in humans with hookworm infestations.

Hookworms are very small and cannot be seen without specific fecal examination. Since they are very serious and can easily kill puppies and dog's with any other type if illness, infection or disease, regular and routine worming is the very best safety practice.

Tapeworms

The good news is that you cannot become infected with tapeworms from your dog. The bad news is that tapeworm eggs are transmitted by fleas, so if your dog has fleas and you’re the victim of a flea bite, you may run the very rare chance of getting a tapeworm.

Tapeworms are easy to see, they will look like little bits of uncooked white rice in the fecal material or around the dog's anus. Often they are moving and seem to elongate and then contract. Once they are out of the dog's body they quickly dry up and become hard and more like brown rice in appearance. These are not, contrary to popular belief, tapeworm eggs but they are rather small segments or sections of the tapeworm that are being shed.

Tapeworm elimination requires a specialized treatment that is not available other than through your vet. Over the counter worm treatments will not kill tapeworms and do absolutely no good in ridding your dog of these parasites.

Tapeworm Life Cycle

Whipworm Larvae

Whipworms

While the most difficult to detect, whipworms are also the hardest to eliminate and the most challenging to your dog's health since they tend to be in the dog's system a long time before identified as a problem. The worms hook to the lower part of the colon and cause bleeding, anemia and diarrhea, especially problematic if there are other health problems.

Whipworm treatment needs to occur every three weeks until there is no sign of any infection as tested by your vet. Typically worming medications are not targeted enough to eliminate an established problem with these worms, but monthly topical heartworm medications can prevent your dog's from developing whipworms if given on a regular, monthly basis year round.

Treatments

There are both oral and injectable options for routine worming that will treat all the worms listed above. Talk to your vet for options as you may find a product, especially those that combat heartworm, which also provides protection against parasites and worms.

Natural Treatments

Instead of a chemical laden wormer, it is possible to switch to a tincture of black walnut, wormwood capsules and cloves. The natural ingredients not only work together to get rid of worms in a dog's system, they do it by working gently with a dog's immune system rather than suppressing it.

There are also commercially available herbal and holistic worm treatments and supplement available. Unlike the chemical or medical treatments they are typically provided on a routine basis rather than just as a one-time treatment every three to six months.

These natural treatments are often just as effective for most dogs, plus they can really be of benefit for dogs that are sensitive or have a negative reaction to other types of chemical wormers.

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    • profile image

      Suthida 

      5 years ago

      Which type medicin need to buy buy my puppies only 3mon wht to to so scare

    • Pete Maida profile image

      Pete Maida 

      9 years ago

      I'm not a dog owner but I always heard that German Sheperds would have big problems with worms; maybe that was just a myth.

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