Dog worms, the dangers, symptoms to look for, what to do about them
Dogs suffer from many internal parasites and even though most of these cause only minor discomfort there are good reasons to ensure that your dog is protected against these free-loaders.
The most common dog worms – roundworms and tapeworms – rob the dog of nutrients, resulting in weight loss and can also be passed on to humans. Whipworms, hookworms and heartworms are less common but cause more serious problems.
Most worm infestations can be avoided if you follow a regular three-monthly worming regime with your dog, but also watch for signs like weight loss, excessive anal grooming or dragging the hindquarters on the ground.
Here’s are the signs and symptoms that may indicate an infestation of dog worms
|Babesia||Microscopic parasite transmitted by tick bites. It causes anemia, vomiting and ultimately liver problems. Consult a vet if the symptoms are present and be sure to protect your dog from tick infestation.|
|Coccidia||A microscopic protozoan that causes diarrhea, especially in young dogs. A vet can diagnose it with a stool sample and prescribe a sulphur based medication.|
|A microscopic parasite that afflicts both dogs and humans and is usually acquired through contaminated drinking water. It causes severe bloody diarrhea accompanied by mucus. A vet can diagnose it via a stool sample and prescribe medication.|
|Heartworms||Parasites that inhabit the blood vessels around the heart and can cause serious damage requiring surgery. These dog worms are dangerous, do preventative medicine should be given in heartworm areas.|
|Hookworms||Hookworms are a serious problem in dogs that lie on damp unhygienic bedding. These dog worms inhabit the small intestine living on blood. They cause severe anemia and diarrhea. In the larvae stage they also cause skin irritation, particularly between the toes. Must be wormed with special veterinary medication.|
Most puppies are born with roundworms acquired from their mother. These dog worms cause mild vomiting and diarrhea, with pink/white worms visible in the stool.
Puppies should be de-wormed from two weeks of age and adult dogs should be given a de-worming treatment every 3 months. Pregnant bitches should only be de-wormed under vet supervision.
Fleas are the main vector for tapeworm. Dogs get these dog worms by swallowing a flea containing a worm egg or by eating the carcass of an animal contaminated with the worm. If the dog in infected you will see small rice-like worm eggs as well as worms in the feces. They cause few outward signs by affect the dog’s health by consuming nutrients.
Regular worming will control tapeworms but your dog also needs to have regular flea treatments.
A parasite that dogs acquire by eating contaminated animals or infected cat feces. It
can cause diarrhea, muscle weakness and breathing difficulty, and is very difficult to treat. Reduce the risk by cleaning cat litter trays daily and ensuring that your dog does not have access to them.
|Whipworms||Whipworms cause bloody diarrhea severe enough to cause anemia. They usually afflict young dogs kept in unhygienic conditions and are more prevalent in warm countries. A tell-tale sign of these dog worms is a dog that drags his rear along the ground. Consult a vet as whipworms are resistant to many over-the-counter medications.|
Most dog worms are easily treated but can become a serious problem, so contact your vet for advice.