Worming your dog

3rd June 2016

This month we thought we’d talk a little about worms, particularly the one’s which are a problem for dogs.

We’re concentrating on the three main types of worm affecting dogs: roundworms, tapeworms and lungworms.


An adult Toxocara canis roundworm living in the gut of a dog can release millions of tiny microscopic eggs out into the environment through the dog’s faeces. Children can inadvertently swallow these worm eggs with some serious consequences including impaired vision or loss of sight.

Roundworms eggs are picked up from by your dog on its muzzle, paws and coat by sniffing and walking in contaminated areas.

Many people are surprised to find out that even though all traces of the faeces may have disappeared, the eggs can remain infective in the grass or soil for several years.

‘Worm eggs can remain infective on grass and soil for years’

Puppies are especially susceptible to roundworms. They can even be born infected with them by their mothers, or the worms can be passed to them through the mother’s milk. Worming the pregnant mother as well as the puppies is really important.

Watch this excellent animated video we've found on Youtube showing the life cycle of the roundworm.


The most common tapeworm in dogs is Dipylidium caninum.

Each worm continuously produces segments filled with thousands of eggs. The segments break away from the worm and are excreted in the dog’s faeces.

Tapeworms are different compared to roundworms in that the eggs passed by the adult worms need to be eaten by an intermediate host such as a flea, rabbit, rodent or sheep.


This is a worm spread by slugs and snails. It’s been in the UK for some time now but until recently was mainly confined to certain parts of Cornwall and Wales. It’s now spread sufficiently to be considered endemic in southern England and is migrating north.

Parasites within infected slugs and snails that are eaten by a dog develop into adult worms. These worms live in the heart and arteries of the lungs causing breathing difficulties and bleeding.

Larvae are passed out in the dog’s faeces and then eaten by other slugs and snails to complete the cycle.

Lungworm infections in dogs is now considered to be a considerable health risk, and at Bollington Veterinary Centre we always recommend worming your dog regularly.

Where has lungworm been diagnosed?

Click the link above to see an interactive map of where lungworm has recently been diagnosed.

Are worms harmful?

Worms can damage the gut, inhibit growth and cause obstructions, diarrhoea, dehydration, anaemia and weight loss.

Common signs of worms:

  • Weight loss
  • Scurfy dry coat
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Anaemia
  • Bleeding

Prevention is best

Worms are very difficult to spot or see, so don’t wait for symptoms of infection to appear before you do anything.

Prevention is better than cure, and at Bollington Veterinary Centre we recommend using an effective worming treatment regularly. It will also help if you prevent your dog from scavenging.

When should you worm your dog?

The frequency of worming depends 3 things:

  • The effectiveness of the wormer
  • The age of your dog
  • Your pet’s lifestyle

Puppies are generally wormed every two to three weeks until 12 weeks of age and then monthly. They are mainly dosed against roundworms.

Adult dogs needing regular worming especially those that;

  • live in households with young children
  • live in high risk areas
  • are heavily infected

These are all points that you can discuss with our veterinary team when working out a worming programme. The details of what and when will vary from one dog to another, and from one household to another.

Book a worming appointment

Choosing the right worming product

Wormers come in a variety of different forms — tablets, pastes, granules, syrups, liquids, spot-ons and injections. Some treatments also need to be given more often than others.

The most important thing to consider is that the product you choose is effective against the worms you want to target.

Make sure you are giving the right dosage for your dog’s weight.

At Bollington Veterinary Centre we have accurate weigh scales so please feel free to pop down and weigh your dog regularly.


And finally…

Don’t forget to worm all dogs in the household at the same time

  • Set a reminder in your diary for the next treatment date
  • Keep flea treatments up to date – fleas are involved in some tapeworm life cycles
  • Safety first store wormers out of the way of children and animals
  • Wash your hands after handling worming products