How can you tell your dog has worms?

April 13, 2012

Gross! My dog has worms. Worm infestation is one of the common concerns of dog owners. Worms can affect not only the appearance but also the quality of life of the pet. Some worm infestation can even be fatal. Some worm infestations of the pet are zoonotic, meaning the infestation can also be transmitted to the human family. The good news is that worm infestation is treatable. As with any other concerns that affect the health of the pet, treatment must be administered at the earliest possible time to attain full recovery. It is therefore necessary to know the telltale signs of worm infestation.

There are several kinds of worms that can infest your dog. Your pet can be infested with roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. These are intestinal parasites. Another type of worm, the heartworm is considered to be the most dangerous. As the name suggests, this worm will migrate to the heart of the dog causing irreparable damage is prompt treatment is not administered. What is more alarming with this type of worm is that it would not show symptoms until the infestation is in an advanced stage. Some worms and their eggs can be seen by the naked eye. Other worm infestation can only be verified by bringing fresh fecal sample to the vet to be examined under the microscope. Some worms would need other methods of diagnosis. Heartworm for instance can be diagnosed with blood test.

So how do dogs get these pesky worms? Dogs play in the dirt. These animals also have the inclination to dig and to eat feces. Worm larva can reside in the dirt and on the feces of an infected dog. The infestation will begin when the dog comes in contact with infected dirt. These intestinal parasites can also be transmitted by fleas. A tapeworm larva-carrying flea would begin the infestation if ingested by a dog grooming itself. Even newborn puppies are not free from these intestinal parasites. Roundworm eggs that form cysts and remain dormant inside the dog will activate when the dog gets pregnant. Roundworm can be transmitted to the puppies through the mother’s milk.

Some worm infestation can be easily detected as worms in the feces and in the vomit can be seen by the naked eyes. It would be hard not to see 6 to 7 inch roundworms in the dog’s feces. Roundworms can also be vomited by the dog. Tapeworms are the moving small rice-like segments in the dog’s feces. Tapeworms can also cling to the fur around the dog’s anal area. Some infestation though would show no signs of the worm. Infestation can only be verified through stool exams. A dog owner has to know the other telltale signs of infestation. Severe worm infestation would show in the dog’s appearance. The dog would have a dull coat and a pot bellied appearance. At the onset of infestation, the dog would have huge appetite but in spite of the amount of food consumed, the dog would progressively loss weight because the worms are robbing the dog of the vital nutrients. Dogs are active animals but one that is infested with worms would be lethargic and weak. If no treatment is administered, the dog will start to loss appetite, would cough, vomit and have diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea is one of the most common signs of worm infestation.

Worm infestation can be easily dealt with. Safe and effective worming treatments are available. To be able to give the right medication, the worm must be identified. This can only be done with fecal examination and blood tests. The average dog owner can treat the worm infestation of the pet with over the counter multipurpose medications. All in one medications that come in chewable and flavored tablets would already treat the most common type of worm infestation.

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