Pets & parasites : Not a good pair!


Being a dog owner is a rewarding and pleasurable experience but it carries with responsibilities particularly with regard to pet’s health. Dogs play a major part in the family household and bring in a lot of love and life to the family; therefore they need to be fit and healthy. Worms can be a real threat and hence our pooches need to be dewormed regularly. Worms and infections
Several species of worms infest the intestines of dogs. They are named by their shapes: roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworm. Whilst in the intestines of dogs – their host – worms produce microscopic eggs which pass into the droppings. With the exception of tapeworms, it generally takes several days for the eggs to become infective for other dogs. Infection occurs after ingesting the infective stages although hookworms can penetrate the skin. Once in the dog, whipworms and tapeworms develop directly in the intestines while the hookworms and roundworms migrate through body tissues to the intestine and the cycle starts over. Pets can be infested with several parasite species simultaneously.
Symptoms of infection
Worms cause several problems like lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia and even death in some cases, if left untreated. None of the symptoms described here is exclusive to infestation by one worm type, thus making diagnosis difficult.
Roundworm infestations in dogs may cause a dull haircoat, diarrhoea and pot bellied appearance.
Hookworm infestations in dogs may cause anaemia showing lack of enthusiasm, energy and stamina along with dull haircoat and over all poor condition.
Whipworm infestations in dogs may cause gradual weight loss and diarrhoea. Severe infestations cause foetid, blood specked diarrhoea, anorexia, weight loss, abdominal pain and even anaemia and dehydration. Tapeworm infestations may cause dogs to ‘scoot’ due to anal itching.
Making pets worm-free
Ensuring a pet worm-free is not as simple as administering only one treatment. Reinfestation with worms can begin immediately after the animal has been treated. This occurs in two ways – when the animal ‘picks up’ new worms from the contaminated environment and when worm larvae already acquired mature in an animal’s intestine. The latter occurs because the body offers some protection from the medicines to the larvae that have migrated beyond the digestive tract.
The solution is to follow a control programme by which, egg output by adult worms can be largely eliminated and reinfestation from contaminated areas minimized.
Deworming in pups
Immature worms present in the body tissue of female dogs can cause infestation of round worm in unborn puppies during pregnancy or infestation of hookworm in newborn pups via milk.
Pups can be seriously affected by immature worms before infestations are detectable by the presence of worm eggs in pup’s faeces, so it is often essential to commence early treatment.
Worms developing from pre-natal (before birth) and colostrum (first milk) infestations can be present in the gut of the pup one week after birth & may take further 2-3 weeks to develop. Dosing every two weeks from 6 to 12 weeks of age is recommended.
Deworming in pregnant dogs
Immature worms in the body tissue of pregnant dogs may develop and infect unborn pups with roundworms during pregnancy or newborn pups with hookworm during lactation. During pregnancy, additional infestations in the female dog can be prevented by ensuring that the environment is not contaminated and high standards of hygiene is adopted.
During pregnancy and lactation, the female dog’s naturally acquired resistance to worms is reduced. This allows larvae to resume development in such dogs. All female dogs should be wormed prior to mating and before whelping and then every three months to reduce environmental contamination and infestations.
Deworming in adult dogs
Adult dogs need to be dewormed every three months after they are six months of age. A veterinarian should be consulted for deworming, especially where the situation may be deemed high risk and conducive to worm outbreaks (where hygiene is poor, where the dog population is high or where the climate is tropical, humid or with high rainfall).
Particular circumstances do occur when a pet should be wormed in addition to these programmes as:

  • Newly acquired pup – regardless of history
  • Boarding kennels
  • Dogs passing worms in faeces
  • Presence of tapeworm segments (rice grain)

It is a wise move to have a faecal sample checked by your veterinarian before carrying a regular worming programme and pets should be weighed before treatment to ensure accurate dosage.
Worms and humans
Certain types of worms that affect dogs can also have a detrimental effect upon humans, although this is relatively uncommon. Roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms can occasionally be a health hazard for people. Infection occurs simply by swallowing the eggs or larvae and naturally this is most likely with young children who are playing with puppies or who are in a soiled environment. The hydatid tapeworm can also affect people, which can be a problem in areas where infected offal is fed to dogs.
So please remember that regular worming is essential to your pet’s good health and part of being a responsible pet parent. Always choose a worming treatment that is effective and makes deworming easy for your pet as lot many different options are available in the market today.
Always consult your veterinarian for correct treatment option for your dog.
(Dr Vishal Surve, M.V.Sc, Pharmacology & Toxicology, is Product Executive at Petcare Animal Health, PROVIMI.)