Worming your dog1st March 2017
The three main types of worm affecting dogs are roundworms, tapeworms and lungworms.
Toxocara canis is an adult roundworm living in the gut of dogs, which can release millions of tiny microscopic eggs 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 are picked up from the environment 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 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, or the worms can be passed to them through the mother’s milk. Worming a pregnant mother as well as the puppies is really important.
‘Worming the pregnant mother as well as the puppies is really important’
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 slightly different in that the eggs passed by the adult worms need to be eaten by an intermediate host such as a flea, a mouse or a sheep.
There are several different types of tapeworm, each with a different intermediate host.
This is a worm spread by slugs and snails. It’s been in the UK for some time 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.
‘These worms live in the heart and arteries of the lungs causing breathing difficulties and bleeding’
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
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 on 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.
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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 weighing scales so please feel free to pop down and weigh your dog regularly.
- Don’t forget all your pets - worm all dogs in the household at the same time
- Set a reminder – use your diary for the next treatment date
- Keep flea treatments up to date – fleas are involved in some tapeworm lifecycles
- Safety first - store wormers out of the way of children and animals
- Wash your hands – especially after handling worming products.