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Updated on November 13, 2010

Worms in dogs

Worms are , in many cases, the first problem with which the new dog owner is faced. They are certainly one of the most common for all dog owners. In spite of this,perhaps because of it,many misconceptions have grown up. It is not true that your dog necessarily has worms because he chases his tail; he sits down and drags himself; he has a fever; he chews his feet; he twitches in his sleep;his coat falls out; or he moans. Nor is it true that he needs deworming every week until he is grown. Deworming is not a cure-all for dogs' ailments despite too much public reliance on its effectiveness.

The most common types of worms afflicting dogs are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms. The first four are peculiar to the intestinal tract, and the last, as its name impliess,is found in the circulatory system.

WORMS IN PUPPIES. Nearly every puppy must be treated, early in life, for roundworms and hookworms. These are often acquired from the mother dog before birth and can be fatal if allowed to go on unchecked. Four to five weeks of age is about the right time for the first deworming. Puppies seldom show symptoms of a tapeworm before the are 3 months old and we do not recommend any tapeworm treatment under that age.

WORMS IN MATURE DOGS. Mature dogs may affliced with any of the various type of worms referred to above. These parasites cause the dog less trouble as he grows older but they are always capable of lowering his resistance and making him susceptible to other diseases. They may also reduce his vitality and rob him of his good appearance and you of much of fun of his companionship.

ROUNDWORMS AND HOOKWORMS. These are discussed together because the treatment for them is the same. The roundworm is from 3 to 5 inches in length,pointed at the ends,about 1/16 inch thick,and white in color. The hookworm is white,about half inch long and as thick as a shoe thread. Both types lay great quantities of eggs which pass out in the fecal matter of the infested animal.Under favorable conditions these eggs are ready to infest the same or another dog within a few days. Under unfavorable conditions,however,they are quite capable of lying dormant for a long periods of time without losing their power to become active again when favorable conditions return. Hookworms are especially dangerous because the attach themselves to the intestine with hooks and live on blood. In addition to the damage they cause through this loss of blood they also secrete a toxin which severely poisons young puppies, or old dogs when they first become infested, but to which dogs gradually become resistant. Puppies with roundworms usually have diarrhea, often of the foamy type. They develop pot bellies, lose their appetites and becomes gaunt. They lose luster of their coats and eyes,which may water unduly. Mature dogs may have the same symptoms, usually to a somewhat lesser extent. The roundworm itself may sometimes be seen in the stool or vomitus,usually,but not necessarily,coiled up like a watch spring.

The symptoms of hookworms are the same as those of roundworms but are usually more severe. In addition an anemia-like condition may be present. The gums are blanched and often white,and the dog becomes more and more listless. Hookworms are practically never found in the stool or vomitus but these may show traces of blood now and then.

worming your dog is easy. Worming a puppy is one of the samplest jobs in the world.For a puppy four to five weeks old,which is about the right time for the first worming.Medicine is given in the morning on an empty stomach followed in one hour by a mils laxative.Give him a good meal one or two hours after the laxative.Action should begin in about four or five hours. The puppy will have two or three actions and that's usually all there is to it. Worming doesn't go on for days as some people seem to think. After ten days,repeat the treatment,and after that, one treatment every three to six months for one year should be sufficient. After worming build up his strength with extra meat in his diet.

TAPEWORMS. These are elongated flat worms, made up numerous segments, and grow to a length of one to two feet. They produce by dropping off the last segment of their bodies. This segment is filled with larvae which are eaten by fleas or lice. The insect is in turn,eaten by the dog,and the adult tapeworm develops in the dog's intestine. Hunting dogs may acquire tapeworm from eating rabbits infected with larvae.

The symptoms of tapeworm are disturbance to appetite and digestion, restlessness,lusterless coat,dull eyes and scaly skins. In severe cases there may be diarrhea and cramps and nervousness of almost fit proportions. the best evidence of all,however,is to see them; that is, to see segments. These segments look like brownish grains of rice when dry and have a pinkish tinge when fresh. They may be found in dog's bedding or stool, or adhering to the hair of his hindquarters. In fully grown dogs the segments may often be seen before any of the other symptoms have attracted attention.Before beginning treatment,it is best to have his intestinal tract brought into shape. Feed him, for 3 or 4 days preceding treatment a diet of 2/3 cooked meat and 1/3 bran if this is possible. Dogs which normally roam at large should be confined to 48 hours or more to be sure that their digestive systems are free of bones or other indigestible.

Whipworms. These are tiny parasites which live in the caecum or "blind gut". They do not always cause clear-cut symptoms to betray their presence. In some cases the fecal matter will be firm in one passage and soft in the next. Mature dogs will sometimes have cramps. Let your veterinarian treat your dog for whipworms.

Heartworms. There is a great deal yet to be learned about these parasites. They live in the dog's heart and lay eggs which circulate in his blood stream. Infestation is spread by insects which bite the afflicted dog,picking up the larvae,which are in turn injected into another animal which the same insect bites. Mosquitoes have always been considered the principal carrier,but recent research has implicated ticks and lice. The symptoms are not easy to detect and are generally those of a person with certain kinds of heart trouble;that is,shortness of breath,lack of endurance, and in some cases,a cough. Treatment must always be administered by veterinarian. You cannot give your dog complete protection against these pests,but by all means keep him free of ticks and lice.


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