A Guide to Worming Your Dog
Worming your dog regularly is important in keeping your dog healthy and free of disease. There are different types of worms that can infect your dog, but they most of them attach to your dog the same way.
As our dogs sniff, lick, and tend to eat everything in their path, they, unfortunately, make it easy for these pests to climb aboard. With those doggy kisses and wrestling play time, those pests can jump to other pets and even to us humans. This is why regular worming is important not only for your dog’s health but yours too.
Types of Worms That Can Infect Your Dog
With these different types of worms, each carries their own set of diseases and symptoms. Below we can learn about the different types, their effect and symptoms on your dog, and their effect on you.
Roundworms are the most common worms found in dogs, and almost all dogs contract them at some point in their lifetime. Roundworms can be contracted in many different ways, making them easy to spread and hard to control. They can spread to puppies while still in their mother’s belly, or even through the mother’s milk. They also can live in the tissue of small rodents like mice and can spread if your dog consumes them.
Effect on Your Dog – When roundworms infect your dog, they live in the intestines. When the infection is small most dogs don’t show any signs of being infected; but when the infection grows, it can cause your dog to experience vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and a potbellied look. If they move into your dog’s lungs they can also cause your dog to cough. Over time this can cause serious health issues for your dog.
Some of the early telling signs are in your dog’s poop. You may notice white or light brown worms that can be several inches long.
Effect on Humans – Roundworms can infect humans, and pose a huge risk. When a human is infected, the worms can cause issues to your eyes, heart, lungs, and brain. It is important that when cleaning up your dog’s poop when they are infected, to wear gloves and wash your hands immediately after. This helps to prevent the worms from spreading to you.
It is also important to keep your children from playing where your dog is doing their business, as the worm’s larvae can survive in the soil.
Tapeworms are long flat worms that live in your dog’s intestines. There are many different kinds of tapeworms that can infect your dog, that attach to different hosts that your dog may eat to become infected. One type uses fleas as the host or mode of transport into your dog, while others may use small rodents like mice, rats, squirrels; to larger animals like rabbits, sheep, and deer.
Effect on Your Dog – Your dog most likely won’t show any symptoms like weight loss or vomiting if they are infected with tapeworms. The telling sign for tapeworms you will notice is by finding small white worms about the size of a grain of rice, on your dog’s rear end, in their poop, or where your dog tends to sleep.
Effect on Humans – Tapeworms found in dogs can cause some serious issues in humans like; cysts that form primarily on the liver and lungs, but can also affect other organs. If left untreated, these cysts can grow to over a foot in diameter and require surgery to remove them.
Fortunately, these tapeworms are not common in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions.
Hookworms are similar to tapeworms and roundworms and live in the intestines. They attach to the lining of the intestines and feed on your dog’s blood. They lay their eggs in the intestines, that make their way out into the world through your dog’s poop. From there they can live in the soil and infect other dogs through them eating the dirt or licking the soil off of their nose or body.
Effect on Your Dog – Because hookworms feed on your dog’s blood, they pose a serious threat to your dog, especially puppies since they may not survive blood loss without having transfusions. Adult and larger dogs the blood loss may be more chronic, and have diarrhea or suffer weight loss.
Effect on Humans – Not all species of hookworms can infect humans, but there are some that can. They do so by penetrating the skin, usually as you are walking barefoot through the yard or area where pets use the bathroom. The infection usually results in itching where the larvae enter the skin and leave visible tracks on the skin. It is very easily treated but can cause mild to extreme discomfort. One species of hookworm can move to the intestines in a human as they do dogs and can cause disease.
Whipworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites to infect dogs. They make their way into the cecum in your dog’s body. (Where the small and large intestines connect.) They make their way into the world as many of these worms do, through your dog’s poop. Dogs usually become infected with whipworms when ingesting infected soil or other things that may be covered in dog feces like, grass, plants, etc.
Effect on Your Dog – Depending on the size of the infection the symptoms can range quite a bit. With a small infection, your dog may not show any symptoms at all. When the infection is larger, your dog could start to have bloody diarrhea. If left untreated, the severe infection can start to cause disease and even lead to the death of your dog.
Effect on Humans – Whipworms can infect humans and the rate of infection is actually high, especially in children. Humans get infected the same way as dogs, ingesting contaminated soil, usually while playing in the dirt, gardening, or eating foods that weren’t properly cleaned. They are easily treated with a prescription. Most infections are not severe and can go untreated. The easiest and best way to prevent them is to wash your hands after they have contacted soil and deworming your pets.
Heartworms are common in dogs throughout the U.S. and are one of the most damaging parasites your dog can get. Their larvae are transmitted by mosquitoes, and once mature they usually live in the heart and large blood vessels of the lungs. They can measure to over a foot in length.
Effect on Your Dog – Once they have made it to the heart they can affect blood flow throughout your dog’s body. They can also affect more than just the heart when it comes to organs like lungs, liver, and the kidneys, making symptoms vary. Most commonly you will notice signs of lung or heart diseases like a dry cough after exercise, shortness of breath, rapid weight loss, fatigue, fainting spells, and a swollen abdomen (pot belly). If left untreated the infection becomes fatal.
Effects on Humans – It is not possible for your dog to directly transfer heartworms to you as a human. There have been rare cases where humans have been infected, but heartworms are generally not considered a risk to human health. In order to remove them, you have to undergo surgery, which has a greater risk than having the infection itself.
While cleaning the areas where your dog uses the bathroom thoroughly is a great way to help prevent them, and you, from contracting one of these parasites; the best way to avoid and prevent these worms from infecting your dog is to give them a worming medication regularly. But what is considered a regular worming routine?
How Often Should You Worm Your Dog?
There are different factors to consider when determining how often you should be worming your dog like; age, the area you live, and your dog’s health. Each of these factors needs to be taken into consideration when figuring out the right worming routine for your dog.
Because worms are super common in puppies, they need to be wormed more often, especially as they are nursing. This is because worms can be transferred from mother to baby through her milk.
Puppies should be wormed at; 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks. From there monthly until they are 6 months old. Worming your puppy is especially important, as the parasites can have devastating effects on their small bodies.
Generally, you worm your adult dog every 3 months. This can change depending on a couple different factors.
Depending on where you live worms may not be very prevalent, so worming your dog once every 6 months may be suitable. Or you may live in an area crawling with worms and may need to worm them more often.
Health is also something to consider when worming your dog. If your dog suffers from a chronic disease, you will want to keep it to a minimum as necessary.
Newly Adopted Dogs
If your dog is newly adopted, then it is best to worm them immediately since you don’t know if the previous owner had done so, or if the dog had contracted an infection since their last treatment. From there you can put them on a regular worming schedule, as is seen fit for your situation.
To learn and understand the most ideal worming routine for your dog, based on these factors, schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian. Click here to find a local veterinarian near you!