Worms & Deworming

Your dog looks and acts like he's in great shape. He couldn't possibly have worms, right? Wrong! Just about all puppies are infected with intestinal parasites, passed on in the uterus or from their mother's milk. Adult dogs can get worms from eating feces or dirt that contain eggs.

Kinds of Dog Worms & Deworming

Roundworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites found in dogs-and puppies in particular. These long white worms that resemble spaghetti can grow to four inches and can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. Severe infestations in young dogs may result in a pot belly, dull coat and weight loss. All puppies should be regularly wormed from two weeks of age-and all adult dogs wormed every year-to guard against roundworms. And, by the way, they can be passed on to humans.

Tapeworms, also very common, are transmitted by fleas. You'll seldom notice any symptoms in your dog-but you may notice small rice-sized egg sacs in the hair around your dog's anus or in his feces.

Whipworms can only be seen under a microscope, but they can cause diarrhea and anemia. Puppies kept in unclean environments and dogs who live in warmer climes are most susceptible. If you notice your pet scooting-or dragging his rear along the ground-this may be an indication of whipworm infestation. If the eggs are shed on grass by an infected animal, they can remain infectious for more than a year-even in cold climates!

Bloodsucking hookworms are also a threat to your dog. Good hygiene is essential when these parasites are around. If an infected dog must lie on damp, dirty bedding, the larva can cause skin irritation.

Treatment of Parasites & Multiple Deworming

The key to treatment of parasites is correct diagnosis - and the medication must be effective against the parasite your pet has. A dewormer that eliminates roundworms, for example, will not kill tapeworms. And whipworm is unusually resistant to many drugs. Your veterinarian can best determine the culprit and prescribe the appropriate medication. Diagnosis may require microscopic examination, so you should take a fresh fecal sample to your veterinarian. Some parasites may require multiple dewormings.And never assume your dog doesn't have worms just because you don't see them in his stool.

To avoid reinfection, Experts stress that good hygiene is essential. Make sure your dog is free of fleas. Always clean up after your dog when he defecates. As mentioned earlier, some worms can be passed from animals to humans. About 10,000 children annually, for example, are infected with roundworms. You and your family can avoid problems by washing your hands before and after handing your dog. Never handle feces directly.