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Last time we talked about the importance of vaccination to your dog’s health and wellbeing. Another critical aspect of taking care of your dog’s health is worming.
Intestinal worms are a common problem in all pets, particularly puppies. The most common intestinal worms that present a problem for Australian dogs are:
- Roundworm: these are long, like tiny, thin pieces of spaghetti. They may be seen in vomit or faeces. Most pups are born with roundworm; signs can include failure to thrive, being unwell, and having a “pot belly”. Infection can also arise from eating roundworm egg-contaminated soil or other infected hosts including rodents and birds. This is the most common worm passed from animals to and between humans.
- Hookworm: caught environmentally and passed through infected dogs’ faeces. They attach to the intestinal lining, feeding on blood and body fluids. A puppy can become anaemic and die as a result of this. Hookworm larvae can be swallowed by humans or penetrate human skin.
- Whipworm: amongst the most common causes of canine diarrhoea, the eggs of these worms can survive unhatched in the environment for five years. Caught from soil, they pass through the faeces.
- Tapeworm: these look like small bits of rice around the tail area or in the faeces. They live in the small intestine, and irritation to the anus can cause the characteristic “scooting” we see dogs do as they drag their backside along the ground. There are two tapeworm varieties; one is flea tapeworm, while the other is hydatid tapeworm. The second of these is of high risk to farm and hunting dogs that eat uncooked offal from native or farm animals. These worms are very dangerous to humans.
How Does a Dog Catch Worms?
The many ways in which a dog can catch worms include contact with infected animals; contact with infected animal faeces; drinking water that is contaminated; nursing puppies may catch them from an infected nursing mother; eating parasite-infected meat (including live kills such as rodents); and swallowing fleas.
What are the Symptoms of Worm Infestation in a Dog?
A worm infestation can present as appetite loss, itchy anus, diarrhoea, or vomiting. You may see worms or their eggs in your dog’s faeces.
In severe cases, a dog may die as a result of worm infestation.
Worming is as simple as giving a pill. It doesn’t prevent worm infestation, but it does kill any worms present.
With adherence to a routine worming schedule, your dog can be protected from worms, and the consequences of worm infestation.
Puppies should be wormed fortnightly until they reach twelve weeks of age; and then monthly until they are aged six months. Thereafter, older puppies and all adult dogs require worming every three months to ensure they are protected.
Seek advice from your vet as to appropriate products and dosages.
By taking care of your dog’s worming requirements, you’re not only looking after your pet; you are also looking after the health and wellbeing of your family. Worms transfer very easily and other pets as well as human family members (including children) may catch worms from your dog. Note too, that any dog attending dog day care or mixed dog walking must have their worming up to date.
Next time we will address HEARTWORM in dogs...