Canines are vulnerable to many infections and infestations, just because they are prone to it…sometimes because of their attitude (free-spirited) and sometimes because of our negligence. The most common is the canine worm, which should not be taken lightly as these dangerous parasites can cause irreparable health loss to our loving pooch, if not treated in time. Here are some useful insights about the same.
Canines can become afflicted with several different types of intestinal parasites, commonly called “worms”. Dog worms are very dangerous as they live inside our pooches’ body. They can prove fatal if proper diagnosis or treatment is not given in time.
There are at least five different types of dog worms or intestinal parasites which dog can fall prey to, which include Roundworm; Hookworm; Tapeworm; Whipworm; and Heartworm. The most prevalent worms are roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworm infestation can be quite high in puppies, whereas tapeworms may also be a problem for your canine, especially if he has fleas. Early detection is very important as they are not only dangerous to our canines but they can be transmitted to humans as well. Some of these worms can be invisible to the eye and may show little symptoms, so routine check-ups with your local veterinarian, becomes all the more necessary.
Roundworm is the most common infection in puppies and is transmitted through the ingestion of eggs. A female roundworm produces hundreds of thousands of eggs each day. These eggs are deposited in the soil. When your pet plays in contaminated soil and ingests worm eggs, they will hatch in your puppy’s intestine. It can also be transmitted from mother to puppies. The larva is then carried into your puppy’s lungs through the bloodstream. Once in the lungs, the larva will crawl up your pup’s windpipe and get swallowed. This will normally cause your puppy to gag or cough. Once the larva has been swallowed, they will live in your pups’ intestines and grow into adult roundworms. A severe infection of roundworm can cause an intestinal blockage, which in certain cases can lead to death also.
- Stunted growth
- Dull hair coat
- Weight loss
- Pot-bellied appearance
They are long segmented worms that are found in dog’s small intestine and are transmitted through fleas. Your dog may be susceptible to tapeworms if he is a hunting dog and has ingested a “game” – animal that has tapeworms. Likewise, your dog may get tapeworm if he ingests fleas, which has been on wildlife. The most common sign in infested dogs and cats is anal irritation associated with segments “crawling” on the area. Typically the owner sees motile tapeworms’ segments on the feces. One of the species of tapeworm – Echinococcus spp is of human health hazard.
- Abdominal discomfort
- Severe itching around the anus
Hookworms are the worst parasite for pets as they feed on host’s blood. Infestation is usually via ingestion of the ova-female gamete; sometimes freshly hatched larva also penetrates into the skin of the dog and causes an infection. The adults lie in the small intestine and are attached to intestinal lining with hook like organ. After invading host’s body, larvae travel to the small intestine, mature, mate, and lay eggs. These eggs then pass into the soil through the dog’s feces, and again while coming in contact with the infectious soil or objects, the worms get transmitted to pets and human as well, thus continuing the infection cycle.
- Life threatening blood loss in puppies
- Diminished strength and vitality
- Black stools
- Blood in the stools
If you see any symptoms that are mentioned above, take your pet to the vet immediately. Remember that if these worms are detected at an early stage you can stop them from being dangerous to your dog…as they say precaution is always better than cure.
(Dr Satbir Singh Josan, MVSc (Surgery) is in Small Animal Practice since last 10 years. He can be contacted at: 9810291453 or 0124-2367812.)
Do’s and don’ts…
- Visit the vet for stool testing and dog worms, twice a year.
- Root cause for tapeworms infection is fleas, so make sure that dog is flea protected.
- Most puppies eat their feces, when not kept under watch and these feces carries worms, so make sure that your puppy does away with this bad habit.
- Clean your dog’s area like their bed or kennel with a strong saltwater solution for prevention of the worms.
- Exposing your dog to stray animals, birds and dead rodents, mouse can cause infection, so make sure that your dogs don’t get exposed to them.
Regular de-worming schedule should start at an age of 21 days and continue every month till the age of six months and then after every three months till the pet is alive.
Medicines for de-worming in dogs should be used only after consultation with your vet.