Worms are a persistent problem for dogs and some variations of this parasite can even cause problems for people too. We can never rule out the possibility of a worm infection throughout the lifespan of your dog, so it’s important to keep a regular routine of treatment as in this case, prevention is the best cure. Most pet owners will already know that it is important that they have their dog regularly dewormed. There are various types of worms that your dog can develop and they are as follows:
The tapeworm’s name describes its appearance. It is long and flat, resembling tape. It can sometimes be seen with the naked eye and broken pieces can usually be found in the dog’s faecal matter or around its anus (if they have an infestation) – appearing similar to grains of rice.
The common symptoms of severe tapeworm infestation are vomiting, weight loss and severe itching around the anus. As tapeworm larvae are carried by fleas which are then picked up by the dog as it grooms itself, this is an important reason to prevent fleas in your dog.
Like tapeworms, roundworms can also be seen with the naked eye. They are pale white to beige and may be coiled like a spring and can appear in your dog’s faeces or vomit. Roundworms are a common type of worm found in dogs and in particular, puppies. The reason for this is that puppies can contract the worms through their mother’s milk or even whilst they are in the uterus. The symptoms of a severe infestation of roundworms tend to be pot-bellied appearance, diarrhoea, vomiting and a dull coat.
The most common species of roundworm in dogs is Toxocara Canis which can also infect people. Children are particularly vulnerable as eggs can be picked up in contaminated soil. Once ingested by children, the worm larvae can migrate through the body and, if they reach the eyes, they may potentially cause damage to eyesight. This highlights how vital it is to ‘pick up’ after your dog – and to be doubly sure to prevent worms from being transmitted in the first place.
It is always better to prevent worms in dogs than to run the risk of your dog being ill and having to treat them. There are a number of medicines authorised to prevent and treat worms – talk to your vet or other pet care specialist for advice on which is best for your dog and how to use them.
The Pet Health Info website www.pethealthinfo.org.uk is a free online resource, offering information on a range of pet health issues, including worms in dogs.