Worms can seriously affect the health of your pet and family. Here are all the risks and the signs to look out for if you think your pet has worms.
Intestinal worms are a common problem that can not only affect the health of your dog or puppy, but human members of your family, too. Understanding the facts about intestinal worms and learning how to protect your pet will make for healthier dogs and happier humans. If you are unsure which worming products are suitable for your dog or puppy, Petbarn’s Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder tool can recommend you the best treatments.
There are a number of different intestinal worms that can affect your dog, including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. As their name suggests, heartworms are not found in the intestines but in the heart and surrounding blood vessels of pets.
How would my dog develop intestinal worms?
Dogs contract intestinal worms by eating contaminated soil or faeces or by grooming other dogs. A worm can survive in the ground for up to five years. Tapeworms, the most common variety of worms, are picked up from eating infected fleas. Intestinal worms can also be passed on to puppies from their mother when they’re born or still suckling.
Intestinal worms can affect humans
Some varieties of worms can infect humans and dogs alike including roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms. Be aware that you can contract worms from your dog when they lick you or when you walk barefoot near where they have gone to the toilet. Be sure to wash your hands after you’ve been playing with your pet, especially before consuming food.
Signs that your dog has worms
If left untreated, worms can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, anaemia and, in extreme cases, death. Intestinal worms vary in their degree of health risk, though hookworm can sometimes be fatal. Be aware of the following signs of worms, and f you suspect your puppy or dog has worms you should seek professional advice from your local Greencross Vets.
- ‘Scooting’ (dragging their bottom across the ground)
- Weight loss
Common types of intestinal worms
Roundworms are an intestinal worm that is often passed to young puppies through their mother’s milk or if they come into contact with contaminated faeces. Infected puppies will often have a pot-bellied appearance, experience diarrhoea, and face issues with their growth.
This variety of worm can be passed to humans via contact with contaminated soil. Cases of contracting roundworm are most common in young children, and if left untreated can sometimes result in blindness. It’s important to stop your pet going to the toilet near your children’s play area as this is where they are likely to come into contact with roundworm eggs. Ensure you wash your hands after playing outside or with your pet as you pick up this parasite by ingesting the eggs.
Dogs most often develop tapeworms through eating fleas who have been infested with tapeworm eggs. Keep an eye out for your dog ‘scooting’ their bottom across the ground as a sign of infection. As tapeworms can grow up to 6 inches long in your dog’s intestines, you may also be able to spot segments of this worm in your dog’s faeces or attached to their tail.
Contracting tapeworm from your pet is uncommon, but it’s still a risk to consider. Ingesting an infected flea will give you this nasty intestinal worm that causes nausea, diarrhoea and loss of appetite in humans.
Hookworms attach to your dog’s small intestines and suck their blood. They can be transmitted to your dog in-utero, from their mother’s milk, or through contaminated faeces.
Puppies are most vulnerable to the effects of hookworm which include anaemia from blood loss, which cause them to be tired, weak and lose weight.
Hookworm is contracted from your pet when you walk with bare feet through soil contaminated with larvae. This variety can penetrate your skin and will lead to a very itchy rash at first and can then develop into abdominal pain, diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss.
Whipworms can live in the soil for years until they are ingested and infect your dog. It commonly affects dogs who have stayed in areas which house many other dogs, for example kennels and animal shelters, as these areas have slowly become more contaminated with eggs. It is often hard to diagnose whipworms in dogs and some may not even show symptoms of an infection until it becomes severe. Symptoms you should be wary of are diarrhoea, weight loss, and especially if there is a layer of mucous over their stools.
How often should I worm my dog?
To ensure your pet and family stay safe from worms, you should follow this dog worming schedule:
- From the age of 2 weeks, every second week until they are 12 weeks old
- Then, every month until they are six months old
- Then, every three months for life depending on the product used
If you think your dog has worms, take them to your local Greencross Vets to treat the condition. Make sure you keep your pet up-to-date with worming treatments to keep your pet and your family safe from worms.