One of the core beliefs of the team at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital is that the pet owners we serve should have access to the best detection and prevention methods possible for worms in dogs. Dogs often spend a great deal of time outdoors and are incredibly social animals. Unfortunately, this puts them at a much greater risk of contracting internal parasites. Whether pet owners are looking for effective prevention methods to stop their dog from getting worms or need support treating their dog to remove them, our friendly and helpful veterinarians are here to help.
How Do Dogs Get Worms?
While there are a variety of ways that dogs can contract internal parasites like worms, it is important for pet owners to know the potential hazards that may lead to transmission. Once contracted, worms can cause several severe health problems or may even be fatal if left untreated. For this reason, we recommend establishing a preventative protocol with your veterinarian as soon as possible and encourage pet owners to learn common symptoms of worms in dogs so the issue can be treated quickly if it does occur. Some of the most common ways that internal parasites are spread to dogs include:
- Ingesting infected prey like reptiles, rodents or birds
- Consuming the feces or vomit of another infected animal
- Drinking milk while nursing from a contaminated mother
- Sniffing, rolling in, eating or stepping in contaminated soil
- Having contact with other infected dogs or animals that have worms
Through these methods, worms can quickly be contracted by dogs, often without their owners even knowing until the effects they cause become more apparent. For this reason, having a preventative plan in place to protect your dog from the risk of contracting worms is crucial for ensuring they continue to live a happy and healthy life while still providing the companionship that you have grown to expect from them. Having a good offense in place will always be the best defense to ensure that your dog is safe from this often hidden enemy. Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital has the solutions needed to make an immediate impact and give you peace of mind.
Types of Dog Worms
Although many pet owners do not realize it, there are many types of dog worms that can affect the health of man’s best friend. These worms often vary in both size and the way they affect the overall health of the dog, making it important to seek a veterinary evaluation any time internal parasites may be expected. In addition to preventative treatment options, dogs should also be kept away from areas where worms, and potentially their eggs, may be present in the environment. This is particularly important since worm eggs can last for years under the right conditions in nature.
Some dog worms may also be spread to humans, like hookworms and roundworms. This added layer of danger can often startle pet owners because they do not have access to the same prevention methods available to them that dogs may. Knowing how to prevent the presence and spread of these internal parasites can not only protect your pet but also your home and family from potentially devastating consequences. In the following sections, you will find some of the common dog worms that Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital can prevent or treat.
Roundworms in Dogs
As a parasite, roundworms tend to nest in the internal tracts of a dog and deposit their eggs into their feces. This behavior allows the detection of roundworms in dogs through microscopic imaging. As previously mentioned, roundworms may also be spread to nursing puppies through the mother or to older dogs through contact with another infected animal. Some of the known carriers of roundworm eggs include cockroaches, rodents, chickens and earthworms. Unfortunately, these eggs are also not only resilient but also resistant to extremely harsh environmental conditions that would normally control other viruses or communicable disease outside of a host.
If roundworms are detected through a fecal exam or other diagnostic tools, your veterinarian will likely prescribe an oral roundworm treatment protocol and suggest preventative measures that will help decrease the chances of recurrence. Adult roundworms can often be detected with the naked eye in the feces of a dog, but eggs will not. For this reason, any indications that a dog may have roundworms warrants and immediate appointment with your veterinarian to obtain an accurate diagnosis and an expedited treatment response to mitigate long-term effects that may be possible.
Tapeworms in Dogs
Unlike other types of worms that are spread through contaminated feces, tapeworms are often spread through the ingestion of fleas that are carrying immature tapeworms. Depending on the age of the tapeworm, they will range in size from 4 to 28 inches in length and will segment inside of the intestines. Often, pet owners will not be aware of a tapeworm infection until these segments start getting shed from the rectum of their dog and get caught on the surrounding anus or fur. In some cases, severe tapeworm infections will lead the dog to shed weight.
Tapeworms can be diagnosed through fecal examinations by a knowledgeable veterinarian. Unlike roundworms and hookworms, there is minimal risk of tapeworms being spread to pet owners or their family unlike a child swallows a flea that is carrying an immature tapeworm. If signs of tapeworms are observed around the anus of a dog or the dog begins to lose weight unexpectedly, it is important to seek a professional diagnosis as soon as possible to begin treatments and eliminate the internal parasites that they are carrying.
Hookworms in Dogs
As another common type of dog worms, hookworms are often transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated dog feces or through immediate contact with open wounds or skin cracks. Although uncommon in puppies, hookworms are a known internal parasite among adult dogs and prefer to reside in the small intestine. Since hookworms can cause anemia in dogs because they feed on blood, early detection and treatment is critical for ensuring a favorable outcome and speedy recovery.
Like roundworms, hookworms are capable of being transmitted from dogs to pet owners and other animals that may be inside of the home. Most dogs that have hookworms may not show symptoms of an infection until it becomes much worse. If a dog is suspected of having hookworms, or other potential parasites, a diagnosis by a veterinarian as soon as possible is recommended to ensure they receive the appropriate treatment for the worms they are currently harboring.
Whipworms in Dogs
Found in the cecum and colon of infected dogs, whipworms are among the smaller internal parasites that may become problematic. Although they only reach around ¼” long, whipworms are often considered the most dangerous and harmful dog worms in existence; however, they are geographically limited in their reach. Like hookworms, whipworms feed on the blood of a host and, as they reproduce, quickly deplete blood supply levels from the inside causing anemia. For puppies, a whipworm infection can often be life-threatening if not treated quickly.
Although there have been rare reports of dog whipworms being transmitted to humans, whipworms are not considered a significant health risk for humans like they are for animals. Symptoms of a whipworm infection include blood, watery diarrhea and weight loss as well as some general debilitation. Without treatment, whipworms can quickly have fatal consequences if they are able to continue reproducing. Any observed symptoms of a potential infection should warrant a veterinary diagnosis and treatment.
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How Are Dog Worms Treated?
Dog worms are often completely treatable if they are diagnosed and treated before advanced stages of infestation occur. And, while the treatment protocols for each type of dog worm may vary, each is capable of being treated with medication that targets and eliminates parasites over a period of up to 4 weeks. Your veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate deworming medication and the precise administration protocol needed based on the parasite that is detected and the current state of the infection to provide the best results possible.
Before purchasing or administering over-the-counter medication for dog worms, it is important to consult your veterinarian to ensure you are obtaining the right dosage needed for the parasite that your dog may be harboring. In many cases, it will be more beneficial to work with your veterinarian to obtain prescription medicine in the proper amounts and dosing schedules to completely eradicate the worms your dog has and deal with any lingering problems that may occur. In addition to this, your veterinarian can provide any aftercare instructions that may be needed to help your dog return to a level of optimal health.
What We Do
Preventive care is the foundation of our services. Keeping our family pets healthy and preventing illness allows for us to have a longer, happier relationship with our pets.