How does your dog get infected with roundworms and are they harmful?

April 13, 2012

Almost all dogs get infected by worms sometime in their lifetime. Puppies and adult dogs get infected with heartworm, tapeworm, hookworm, whipworm and roundworm. Roundworms are the most common parasitic worms of a dog. Roundworms, as the name suggests have rounded bodies that measure from 5 to 7 inches. These parasites live in the intestines of the dog and rob the dog of essential nutrients as they feed on partially digested food. Roundworms are not highly pathogenic. These intestinal parasites are not capable of producing diseases. Adult dogs may have roundworms in their intestines without showing any symptom of infestation. However, it would still be necessary to eradicate these intestinal parasites. Heavy infestation can cause weakness in adult dogs. Heavy infestation is more harmful in puppies. Due to the number of worms inside the intestines, the puppy would have a pot bellied appearance. It is common for puppies to lose weight due to inappetance. Vomiting and diarrhea are other signs of roundworm infestation. These symptoms coupled with the puppy’s decreased appetite can result to death. Roundworms, commonly called ascarids are prolific. An infected dog would pass feces containing millions of roundworm eggs making the spread of infestation easy. Roundworms pose a threat not only to the health of the dogs as these intestinal parasites can be transmitted to humans. The infestation would be more harmful in humans as the worms would not stay in the intestines but travel in other parts of the body to affect vital organs.

Treatments that would kill the roundworms in the intestines are widely available but to stop the spread of infestation, it would be necessary for a dog owner to understand how the dog was infected. Dogs are wonderful pets but let’s face it. These animals do have some perplexing habits. Dogs have the inclination to eat feces and rotting animals. Dog owners would do everything they can to prevent this disgusting habit because dogs are not only cuddled and kissed by the human family. Dogs are also allowed to lick their human friends. Dog owners may not be aware that by eating feces as well as carcass of infected animals, the pet can get infected with roundworms too. When an infected dog defecates, it contaminates the soil. Dogs can get infected with roundworms by a contaminated environment because these animals have the propensity to dig and to eat dirt.

Are you aware that puppies can be born already infected with roundworms? The larvae can be passed by the mother dog to the puppies. The encysted larvae that stay dormant will migrate to the uterus to infect the unborn puppies. The larvae will travel to the airways and stimulate coughing. The tiny worms that are coughed by the puppy will consequently be swallowed to reach the intestinal tract. The larvae can travel to the mammary gland and infect the puppies while nursing. As the larvae are excreted with the feces, the mother dog can be reinfected when the puppies are licked clean and when the feces of the pups are ingested.

Drugs that will kill roundworms are widely available. The medication will temporarily sedate the worms so that they can be passed out with the dog’s feces. The treatment does not end there as the larvae not in the dog’s intestines but in other parts of the dog’s body have to be removed too. The initial dose has to be followed with two or three more treatments to ensure that the newly hatched worms will be eliminated as well.

Worm infestation can be controlled with regular stool analysis so that prompt deworming can be administered. The life cycle of roundworm has to be broken and this can be done by following the vet’s recommended deworming schedule.

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