Intestinal Worms and Your Dog

Worms. The word is enough to make most of us cringe. Especially when it applies to worms in your pet.

We’ve talked about intestinal worms in dogs in a previous article in the past, but it’s a topic worth revisiting.

Intestinal worms are parasites that dogs, cats, (and kids!) can easily contract. Those common in dogs are Roundworms, Tapeworms, and Hookworms (heartworm is another issue). They can be detrimental to the health of the pet, and may also be transmitted to humans and cause issues for us as well.

Roundworms are the most common canine parasite. Dogs ingest the eggs when they sniff or otherwise come into contact with the faeces from an infected animal. Eggs of roundworms can also pass through the placenta to unborn pups or through mother dog’s milk. The adult roundworm thrives in the host’s stomach and intestines, and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. In puppies, roundworm larvae can infect the brain, liver and lungs, resulting in anaemia, failure to thrive and grow properly, and a dull coat.

Tapeworms in dogs are most commonly carried by infected fleas or ingested via infested meat. Those in meat are called hydatid tapeworms and these are of particular danger to humans. In most cases, tapeworm in dogs is asymptomatic unless excessive, though an infested dog may scoot along the ground due to an itching anus. Excessive infestation can cause weight loss.

Hookworms are passed through faeces. Larvae may be ingested by mouth or through the skin. The adult hookworm attaches to the intestinal wall and feeds on blood and body tissue, causing anaemia, bloody diarrhoea, and death in the case of pups.

(NOTE: Heartworm is a parasite carried and spread by mosquitoes. It can’t be spread directly from pet to pet. It lives in the chambers of an animal’s heart the blood, and the blood vessels. It can affect various organs but is predominantly a disease that impacts the lungs. It is very dangerous to a pet. For more information, see our previous post.)

Controlling intestinal worms is of paramount importance as prevention is better than cure! Treat your pet prophylactically on a regular basis with a vet-recommended product, whether your pet attends dog day care or not. If you suspect worm infestation, see your vet as soon as possible.