Canine worms: Invisible Intestinal Invaders

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.

Worms worries…

Canines can become afflicted with several different types of intestinal parasites, commonly called “worms”.Dog Health 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
  • Nervousness
  • Severe itching around the anus
  • Vomiting


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
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Diminished strength and vitality
  • Black stools
  • Blood in the stools

Caring cure…

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.

Understanding canine Strokes

One day he’s normal. The next he’s walking funny, eating funny, or losing his balance. There’s a possibility he may have had a stroke. Once considered a rare occurrence, canine strokes are now more frequently diagnosed, thanks in part to advances in neuro-imaging. But don’t confuse the word “stroke” with “heat stroke.” Although related, a “stroke” involves the obstruction or rupture of blood vessels in the brain. And because the brain controls the entire body, a stroke can impact your dog in a number of ways.

What is a stroke?

Like in humans, a dog’s brain relies on a constant supply of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients and removes waste products. A stroke interrupts this blood flow either through:

  • A blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.
  • The bleeding of ruptured blood vessels (hemorrhage) in the brain.

Either instance may result in the death of brain tissue. In addition, dogs sometimes experience “mini strokes” where the blood flow is only cut off for a short amount of time, causing less immediate damage. However, this could be a warning sign that a larger stroke may be around the corner.

Identifying a stroke

Common signs may include a lack of recognition of sensory stimuli on one side of your dog’s brain, resulting in his eating out of only one side of his dish or turning his head to the wrong side when his name is called. He may also have head tilt or turn, loss of balance, blindness, circling, and falling. Of course, these signs may be indicators of other brain conditions, too. If you notice any of these symptoms, have your pet examined by your vet immediately for a proper diagnosis.

What causes canine strokes?

Common causes of strokes in dogs include thyroid conditions, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, arterial diseases, diabetes, blood clotting diseases, heart disease, high blood pressure, bleeding from a brain tumor, and bleeding from head trauma.

Treatment options

Once your dog has had a stroke, there is no specific treatment that can repair the damage done to his brain. Your vet will focus on identifying a potential cause for the stroke in an attempt to prevent another one from happening. Most dogs tend to recover within a few weeks of having a stroke, depending on the location where the stroke affected his brain and the severity of the stroke.

Preventing your canine from heat stroke

Now that the summers are in, it has become crucial to take extra  care of our pets. Like humans, dogs can also suffer from heat stroke. Dr. Gautam Unny gives tips to prevent heat stoke in our canines.
We all try our best to combat summer hazards and we should give equal attention to our four-legged friends as they do not sweat and cool their bodies like us. Even a 10-minute lock up in a car on a sunny afternoon can be life threatening for them.
Case file
(Dona’s heat dilemma)
Dona is an eleven-year-old German Spitz who miraculously recovered from an acute attack of heat stroke. She was going to Saharanpur with her owner Col. Sharma, when she was left in the carfor about ten minutes. It was aday in August, when the temperatures were soaring and to add to the distress, the humidity was stifling. Col. Sharma, after about two hours drive felt that it was necessary for everybody in the car to take a break and therefore stopped the car under a shady tree and went to fetch some cold water for Dona. To ensure that she did not jump out of the carand follow him on the congested highway, he pulled up the windows.
To his utter dismay when he came back to the car, Dona lay practically unconscious, finding it difficult to breathe. He immediately poured cold water on her and fed her some of the ice cream he had also brought back with him. After some time, Dona did recover and the family then made a practically uneventful journey back home. During the journey she was shown to a vet who administered some injections to control her motion sickness. She however continued to throw up sporadically all through her journey. The subsequent day saw Dona refuse food and the frequency of vomiting increased. She could not even retain water and therefore Col. Sharma rushed her to our clinic.
Dona was running abnormally high temperature and all symptoms indicated that she had suffered from a heat stroke. She was required to undergo some blood tests but in the meantime, she was started on intravenous fluids to stabilise her. The results that followed left Col. Sharma totally flabbergasted! The Creatinine levels that indicate kidney trouble were grossly elevated and were at 7.2 (Normal 1.5 g/dl). What was astounding was the severity of the sudden damage to the kidneys.
Dona took a full month to recover, but not all dogs are as lucky. What has to be understood is that this problem can be totally circumvented by some proper planning.
How heat
stroke occurs
The brain regulates the monitoring of temperature so that the body temperature neither goes too far below or above normal and this is called homeostasis. The abnormally high rise in temperatures beyond physiological limits due to external factors like high temperature and humidity is called Hyperthermia. In a case of heat stroke, the animal has temperatures beyond 108 degrees Fahrenheit (102 is normal). At this stage, the animal collapses, has rapid breathing, the mucus membranes of the eye are brick red, could vomit or have loose motions. Some animals also have seizures. In the last stages of heat stroke, the dog respires slowly with deep breathing, and this is not a favourable prognostic sign.
Other problems associated with
heat stroke
The reason why some animals who recover from heat stroke get renal failure is that the body in a case of heat stroke suffers from a total circulatory shock. Adequate blood does not flow to the vital organs and the kidneys do not get adequate supply of blood for a short period. This is enough to cause them to get damaged. If an animal who has suffered from a heat stroke does not pass urine (anuria) or less urine (oliguria), then he should be rushed to a vet. If after treatment, the pet begins to pass urine, then the signs are favourable. Dogs who do not respond to treatment even after the administration of diuretics (drugs that enhance urination) may not recover.
Preventing heat stroke
So, what can the guardian do to prevent this potential complication?

  • Never leave a pet in a closed and ill-ventilated area where air circulation is low. A car with rolled up windows is one such place.
  • Provide cool and fresh water at all times.
  • On a long journey, take short breaks and again ensure adequate hydration of the pet.
  • The first sign that a pet is feeling too hot is when he pants too much. Remember, as dogs do not sweat too much they cannot cool themselves off as humans do. A cold water dousing will immediately lower the body temperature.
  • If at home, dip the entire pet in a tub of water or keep ice packs on his body.
  • Try and make him drink water but if he does not or throws up, get to the vet fast.
  • Emergencies do not come forewarned and therefore keep your vets mobile number handy.

The aim is to get the temperature back to normal in the shortest possible time and at the same time ensuring that it does not go far below normal. So, to ensure a happy summer just follow the tips mentioned above to keep your pet free of this potential threat.
(Dr. Gautam Unny is a gold medallist from the Madras Veterinary College and has been treating pets for over a decade now. He has also authored ‘A manual on dog care’ published by Rupa & Co. He can be contacted at 011-22153622 or 9810053451 at A-150, Anand Vihar, Delhi –110092.)   

Tickle your canine paws

People often ask me, “Why would you ever want to mess around with feet – especially dog’s paws?” The answer is simple: feet are connected with well-being. And maintaining well-being for your dog can lead to a fuller, more joyful life. Spicer is a 9-year-old Beagle who was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and a ruptured disk in her neck. In November 2002, Spicer was being given pain medication daily and had occasional episodes of pain. I began canine foot reflexology on her once a week. She responded immediately and appeared to have less pain. After 6 months, her owner began decreasing her pain medicines. After a few months, she was completely taken off pain medicines. It has been two and a half years and Spicer appears to be in no pain. Her owner has learned canine foot reflexology and gives her a session occasionally. She plays, digs in the yard and runs and jumps. Such is the power of canine foot reflexology.

What is foot reflexology?

In 1982, while attending classes in Houston at the now closed Esoteric Center, I took a course in reflexology, which changed my life. Foot reflexology is the art of using various techniques to apply pressure to points on the foot. These points are thought to be conductors of electrical energy. When pressure is applied, it sends energy to all parts of the body. When energy flow is interrupted, a breakdown in the body can occur and often illness or discomfort sets in. Stimulating the pressure points on a foot can release energy blockage and return the energy flow to normal – relieving illness and discomfort.

The history of reflexology is elusive and difficult to trace. There are some who believe that the practice of anointing the feet with oil was a form of foot reflexology. It has worked for many people and dogs.

Canine foot reflexology

I am a life-long dog-lover and soon I began to wonder if our canine friends would benefit from the same reflexology practiced on humans. As it turns out, they do. Just a few of the benefits experienced in dogs who have had reflexology are: relaxation, improved circulation, increased energy, decreased pain, released tension and overall sense of well-being. Tiw, my four-year-old Boxer, has had foot reflexology sessions since he was one year old. He loves the sessions and usually sleeps for a while after one.

Many of the dogs I have worked with have shown remarkable improvement after a series of sessions. My sessions usually last 30-45 minutes and take place about once a week.

The feet of a dog are very important to their survival. Initially, they may be shy about having them touched but once they become aware of this nurturing, loving process, they usually respond enthusiastically. Owners, interested in practicing reflexology, should prepare their dogs by lovingly holding their feet (to allow the dog to become accustomed to someone touching them). Dog caretakers are delighted to see their animals returning to wellness and balance.

Who can learn the technique

The strength of canine foot reflexology is that it is a technique that can be easily learned by everyone! Not only do I practice canine foot reflexology, but I also teach others how to help their canine companions. I encountered a case where a dog did not let me touch her. Georgia, a two-year-old Lab-Chow mix, had been given a diagnosis of hip dysplasia. I attempted to work with Georgia but she would not allow me to work with her feet. Her human did learn the reflexology techniques. Today, Georgia is healthy– thanks to something as simple as “messing with feet!”

(Sue Red Stackhouse is a registered nurse. Sue began working with canine foot reflexology and documented the dog foot reflex chart. For more info, visit their website