Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, oh my!
Have you ever seen your dog eat grass, dirt, or feces? Does your dog go to the dog park or play with other dogs? Is your dog known to chase rabbits? Has he ever had fleas?
These are all factors and behaviors that put your pet at risk for intestinal worm infection. So, how do worms find their way into your furry friend?
How do dogs get worms?
1) From the environment: Dogs infected with worms shed thousands of tiny, microscopic eggs into the environment through their feces. From there, the eggs are dispersed into soil, sand, vegetative growth (grass, plants) or even in water. Dogs become infected when they inadvertently eat these eggs. Think of dogs that eat grass, dirt, or lick the ground. Hookworms are unique in that they can also penetrate a dog’s skin if she happens to be walking or lying down in a contaminated area. Once they break the skin, they will migrate to the intestines.
How do puppies get worms?
2) From their mother: Puppies are often infected with worms before they are born or through their mother’s milk while nursing. This is the reason why all puppies are considered to be worm positive and are in need of deworming treatments.
How do dogs get worms?
3) From eating other infected animals: Dogs are not the only ones eating parasite eggs. Rodents, rabbits, birds, and even bugs (like fleas) eat parasite eggs too. However, unlike in dogs, in these creatures the eggs DO NOT grow up into adult worms but rather stay in a hibernating, encysted state. When a dog then eats one of these critters (have you ever seen Duke chasing a rabbit or mouse?), the “sleeping” worm will wake up and grow into an adult inside the dog. From there, the worm will live in the dog's intestines drinking blood or stealing nutrients and shedding eggs into the feces.
Is there a worm season?
Dogs can be at risk for infection anytime of the year. Many of the eggs that are released into the environment are very durable and can survive environmental extremes (including harsh winters) for several years. It is important as a dog owner to always be aware and on guard year-round. Warmer weather can especially increase the risk of your dog picking up intestinal worms because people tend to spend more time with their dogs outside and wildlife becomes more active.
How do you know if your dog has worms?
While there are a variety of signs that your dog may show if infected, it is not uncommon for dogs to show no symptoms at all, appearing perfectly normal. The most common clinical symptoms are typically diarrhea and vomiting. Weight loss, a bloated belly, coughing and dehydration are also possibilities. Severe cases, if left untreated, can even result in death. The best way to find out if your dog has worms or is in need of deworming is from a fecal exam performed by a veterinarian. Depending on the findings and taking into account the life style and history of the dog (hunting, free-roaming, previous flea infestation, frequent trips to dog parks, puppy, etc.), the veterinarian will prescribe a deworming medication.
How to deworm a dog
is a broad-spectrum, prescription-only dewormer by Bayer that removes tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. It is FDA-approved and THE most complete dewormer available for dogs on the market.* It has undergone extensive testing to make sure it is safe and effective for dogs. What’s more, it comes in a beef-flavored taste tab that makes administration easy. No hiding in pill pockets or disguising in food. Ask your veterinarian for Drontal® Plus Taste Tabs® today. ® ®
*based on label comparisons for intestinal parasites
CAUTION: Federal (U.S.A.) law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. DOSAGE: Not for use in puppies less than 3 weeks of age or weighing less than 2 lbs. CONTRAINDICATIONS: Do not use in pregnant animals. WARNING: Keep out of reach of children.