All dogs need a routine worming program to stay healthy. A stool sample should be examined by your veterinarian at least once a year to help identify if parasites exist and the type of worms present in your dog.
Although it is not difficult to worm your dog yourself, it is sometimes hard to diagnose which type of worm has infected your dog, it is therefore best to leave this task to a professional veterinarian.
Regular worming is essential to protect your dog against internal parasites. Medication can be in tablet (dry) or liquid form. Worming tablets can be bought cheaply at your local supermarket or pet shop, so there is no excuse for not treating your own dog on a regular basis.
Worms are not serious if you treat them promptly and correctly. Adult dogs should be wormed at least once a year, and at least once every 6 months if they are in contact with children. Please take note that some parasites can be passed on to humans especially young children so if your dog shows any signs of infection, he should be wormed immediately. All breeding bitches should also be wormed prior to mating, another time after giving birth and once again shortly before the puppies are weaned.
The most common worms in a dog are roundworms, tapeworms and whiteworms. The symptoms include a swollen stomach (especially in puppies with a potbellied appearance), persistent vomiting, loose bowels, runny eyes or nose. Some dogs will drag their bottoms along the floor or try to bite at their tails. This normally indicates that worms are irritating your dog’s rectum and he is trying to remove the worms or scratch to relieve the irritation. If you see any worm segments in your dog’s faeces, treat it as soon as possible. Sometimes you may see sections of tapeworm around the dog’s bed or clinging to his coat around or close to the tail area in the form of brown pieces of dried rice. Weight loss (these parasites live off the host dog and affect its nutritional intake), poor coat of fur and having blood in your dog’s faeces may also indicate the presence of worms.
Roundworms – Several of these parasites affect dogs but the most important are the ones that belong to the Ascarid family that live in the small intestines of the host dog. Other roundworms infest the large intestine, blood vessels and respiratory tract. Ascarids feed on digesting food in the dog’s gut, and are particularly harmful to puppies. They penetrate a puppies gut wall and pass via the blood to the liver and then to the lungs. From there they crawl up the trachea to be coughed up and swallowed, again ending up in the gut. Infected puppies may develop hepatitis, pneumonia, fits, and obstruction to the gut, so regular treatment is absolutely crucial. As the puppy gets older most of the worms travel to the muscles where they form cysts. These lie dormant until the puppy bitch becomes an adult and is pregnant. They then migrate to the puppies’ lungs, and this is why virtually every puppy is born with roundworms, and must be wormed regularly.
Roundworms can infect humans and in a very low number of cases, cause disease. Good hygiene and common sense concerning children and puppies should control the problem. As adult roundworms can be found in a puppy as early as 2 weeks of its age, this is usually the time when you should start your de-worming program.
To help reduce the chances of worms and other various diseases such as Parvo and Distemper, the following steps should be taken:
* Maintain a strict treatment program. Talk to your veterinarian. * Collect all droppings. * Reduce exposure to other animals and areas frequented by other animals.