How Deworming Helps Keep Dogs And Their People Healthy
Virtually every dog will be a host to a parasite at some point in their life. These parasites can make your dog sick, and in turn, many of them can affect you and your family.
Thankfully, it's pretty easy to keep your dog and your family safe from worms. Learn about the different types of parasites that can affect your dog, and how you can keep them from hitching a ride into your household.
Heartworms are transmitted to dogs via a bite from an infected mosquito. Heartworm disease is serious, sometimes fatal, even with treatment, which is expensive and takes months. Use a monthly heartworm preventative year-round to keep your dog safe.
Heartworms do not show up in stool, as they attack the heart, not the digestive system like other parasites. Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, coughing, and fatigue.
Whipworms can infect your dog if your dog swallows their eggs. The eggs are hardy, surviving on the ground for up to five years. Whipworms live in their host's large intestine, and only microscopic eggs are passed through the stool, so they can easily go unnoticed until the dog develops symptoms: watery, bloody diarrhea and weight loss.
Roundworms are the most common type found in dogs. Though dogs can be asymptomatic, puppies often show symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. They often develop a round “pot belly” and you may discover long, noodle-like worms in their vomit or stool.
Tapeworms can infect your dog if your dog swallows an infected flea. The tapeworm attaches itself to the inside of the dog's intestine, absorbing nutrients through its skin as food passes through the digestive system. The tapeworm is made up of flat segments that detach and may appear in your dog's stool or around their anus. These segments look like grains of rice, and they are full of eggs that can be picked up by another host.
Hookworms are found as larvae in soil, and your pet may ingest them when they walk through infested soil and later lick their paws or groom their fur. Once inside your dog, hookworms lurk in the digestive system and attach to the intestinal wall, feeding on your dog's blood from the inside. This loss of blood can cause anemia. Affected dogs may lose weight, have bloody diarrhea, and a dull coat.
Can My Dog Give Me Worms?
Some types of worms can be spread from dogs to humans. However, with normal, good hygiene, it's unlikely. Make sure you always wash your hands immediately after cleaning up your dog's poop.
It is possible for your dog to give you worms if they lick your face. Your dog may pick up eggs or larvae in their mouth while grooming himself, and the parasite can end up in your mouth via a sloppy kiss. It's okay to share kisses with your dog; just be sure they're up to date with yearly vet exams and on a parasite preventative. Try turning your face away so your dog licks your chin, not your mouth.
How To Tell If Your Dog Has Worms
Only tapeworms and roundworms are visible in your dog's stool. The others are more difficult to detect, and your dog can be infected for weeks before they develop noticeable symptoms. Diarrhea, especially if bloody, vomiting, and weight loss are all symptoms that can indicate worms or another health condition that can become serious and potentially life threatening if not addressed.
How Often Should I Deworm My Dog?
Most puppies, even those from clean environments and reputable breeders, should be wormed early in life. Puppies often get roundworms and/or hookworms from their mother through the placenta before birth or via the mother's milk. Even if the mother has been dewormed, it is possible for larvae to lie dormant in her body, becoming active again when she becomes pregnant.
After your puppy has been cleared of worms, you can keep them parasite free with a monthly preventative. A heartworm medication like Trifexis protects your dog against heartworm, fleas, and most internal parasites.
Do you suspect your dog has worms? Your veterinarian can check with a simple fecal test, along with a blood test to check for heartworm disease. You will also need to have your veterinarian prescribe a monthly preventative.