Almost all wild mammals carry some intestinal parasites. We may have domesticated dogs to become our besties but we haven’t eradicated their propensity to pick up worms.
As responsible owners, there’s a lot we can do to help protect our pets from suffering a worm infestation. That will reduce the spread of these parasites to both us and other animals our pets mix with.
Find out more about the types of worms searching to set up home in your pet and how to get them to move on.
What Are the Symptoms of Dog Worms?
The 4 most common kinds of worms in dogs that you’re most likely to come into contact with in the Netherlands are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms.
Roundworms tend not to cause illness although when they do it can be very serious. The other 3 are a health threat mainly when there are large numbers of them. Most dogs will display few symptoms but they can include:
- Diarrhea and vomiting or blood in the stool
- Lethargy and swollen abdomen
- Nutritional deficiencies, anemia, and dehydration
- Cough (typically only in hookworm and roundworm infections)
- A blocked intestine (in severe cases infestations)
- Pneumonia (only in severe cases of roundworm)
The Most Common Types of Dog Worms
Here’s a little about each of the worms your dog is most likely to pick up:
Roundworms in Dogs
There are 2 species of roundworm that affect dogs. These are Toxascaris leonin and Toxocara canis. Each is long (up to 15cm) and white – looking a bit like spaghetti. They feed off nutrients within the infected dog.
Roundworm larvae first infect a dog’s intestinal tract. They can also bury themselves inside other bodily organs and tissues. As Toxocara canis larvae grow, they move onto the lungs to develop further. They’ll then get coughed up and swallowed, re-entering the intestine to finish off their lifecycle. Toxascaris leonina has a far simpler lifecycle.
Tapeworms in Dogs
Tapeworms live in the small intestine. They grasp the wall with their 6 tiny rows of teeth to absorb nutrients as food gets digested. They’re long and flat. Unless your dog is particularly active, the parasite shouldn’t harm your pet. There are usually enough nutrients for both a pet and a tapeworm. When excreted, the worm typically breaks into segments that resemble small grains of rice. If you notice these in your dog’s stool and see your dog scooting, take a stool sample to your vet for a diagnosis.
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Hookworms in Dogs
These are short, blood-sucking parasites that have teeth. They can be fatal when they infect puppies because of the number of nutrients they remove. Although not common in most northern European countries, they still have a presence.
Whipworms in Dogs
These worms live in the large intestine. They don’t remove as many nutrients as other kinds of worms. Unless they bury themselves in the intestinal tissue, they tend not to cause many problems or symptoms.
How Do Dogs Get Worms?
Because most dogs tend to scavenge outdoors and will come into contact with other dogs, there will always be a danger that they pick up worms at some point. Common ways this can happen are:
- Drinking contaminated milk when nursed by their mother
- Rolling around in, sniffing, or licking contaminated soil
- Eating infected prey such as birds and rodents
- Mosquitos, fleas, and tick bites
- Being in contact with an infected dog or other infected animals
- Ingesting or coming into contact with an infected animal’s vomit or feces
Can Humans Get Dog Worms?
We can catch roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms from dogs. However, it is unusual. Although theoretically possible, humans can contract tapeworms by accidentally eating an infected flea but it’s very rare.
Roundworms are the most common parasite to get passed on from dogs to humans. Most cases involve children. This can cause a condition called toxocariasis. More often than not there will be no symptoms with the parasites dying off within a few months. Some may experience headaches, a mild cough, fever, or stomach pain.
In unusual cases, however, the roundworm larvae can affect organs such as the liver, lungs, eyes, or brain and cause serious symptoms. This can be extremely dangerous.
Can Cats Get Worms From Your Dog?
Only the Toxascaris leonina kind of roundworm can infect cats and it is the least common of the 2 roundworm types. Tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms can get passed between dogs and cats. If you have several pets in the same household, it’s especially important that you regularly deworm your cat.
How Should I Treat My Dog for Worms?
Although you can see tapeworms in a dog’s stool, your vet will diagnose other types of intestinal worms by looking for eggs during the microscopic examination of a stool sample.
Worms are generally treatable provided they get diagnosed early. Your vet will prescribe the appropriate deworming medication depending on the type and severity of the infestation.
It’s vital to consult your vet before buying or administering any medication yourself. Some treatments may last several weeks and it is vital to complete them.
How Often Should I Deworm My Dog?
Puppies should get their first treatment at 2 weeks old and after that every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old. After 12 weeks, they’ll need deworming every month, until they are 6 months old. Adult dogs need deworming generally every 3 months – or more often when there are young children living in the home.
Check with your vet for advice about the frequency of deworming. You may notice dead worms in your dog’s stools if they had a severe infestation.
Steps To Prevent Dog Worms
There are plenty of preventive measures you can take to help ensure you mitigate the risk of spreading dog worms. These include:
- Starting treatments in puppies from 2 weeks of age
- Treating nursing females in case there’s been no detection of worms
- For most adult dogs – quarterly dog worm preventive medication, given year-round
- Fecal examinations 2-4 times per year depending on your dog’s lifestyle
- Watching for symptoms of worms in dogs and acting on them immediately
- Regularly cleaning up your garden of feces
- Immediately disposing of your dog’s feces in public places
- Maintaining the highest hygiene standards at home
- Limiting children in the home from touching potentially contaminated objects
Get in Touch With Us Today!
If you have any concerns about how often you should deworm your dog, please contact us today. We have a team of highly trained, qualified vets available to offer you advice and reassurance.
Book a video slot right now and put your mind at ease today.