Canine worms come in all shapes and sizes and some are more serious than others. At any given time your dog can have any number of parasitic worms in his system, such as the half-inch-long hookworm or a tapeworm. The tapeworm can reach up to a whopping three feet long if left untreated and it can have as many as 90 segments.
Other types of canine worms include: roundworm, whipworm, and the heartworm. Hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and whipworms live in the dog’s intestines and the heartworm lives in the dog’s heart and in the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. Round worms look like spaghetti and tapeworm segments look like grains of rice. If left untreated any type of dog worm can be fatal, but the heartworm is the most dangerous of them all.
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How to detect canine worms
One of the most obvious ways to detect canine worms is to simply examine your dog’s feces. This can be accomplished by sight alone. Canine worms can also be found in your dog’s food, on or buried in your dog’s fur, around his anus, around his paws (from scratching) and it is not uncommon to find them in your dog’s ears.
Where do canine worms come from?
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Fleas are a major source of certain types of worms, such as tapeworms. When a dog accidentally swallows an infected flea, worms can hatch in the dog’s intestines. These types of tapeworms can also be transmitted to humans as well. Animal carcasses such as rodents and rabbits may also contain tapeworms, so be sure to keep your pets away from them at all costs.
Canine worms can also be contracted from other pet’s feces, which can be easily be found in parks, on pet runs, and even in your own backyard. Whipworm and roundworm eggs can remain infectious for years, and hookworm larvae can multiply in the soil in and around a dog run, park or yard.
Symptoms of canine worms
Symptoms of canine worms include:
·Change in your dog’s appetite
·Coughing and hiccupping (due to heartworm)
·Distended abdomen in puppies
·Inability to exercise
How to prevent canine worms
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent canine worms. One of the most important ways to prevent a serious canine worm infection is to have your pet screened for worms twice per year. If your dog is considered high-risk for worms, you should have him screened more than twice a year. High-risk dogs typically live in condensed urban areas and they usually live in a home with more than one pet. Show pets and hunting dogs are also considered high-risk. Caring for a dog with worms should be done only under the care of a vet. Most non-prescription medications don’t work. Your vet will have access to a number of cutting edge preventatives that are extremely effective against the most aggressive types of parasites such as roundworm, whipworm, hookworm, and heartworm.
In addition to preventative measures, it’s also a good idea to keep your dog clean and well groomed. You should also dispose of dog feces immediately. Never leave it in piles around your yard, dog run, etc. If you notice any of the symptoms of canine worms listed above, please contact your vet immediately. Continue reading to learn more about the most serious of all canine worms — heartworm.
About canine heartworm
Canine heartworm is the deadliest parasite infection for dogs. Not only can heartworm affect dogs, it can affect more than 30 species of animals such as cats, wolves, coyotes, ferrets and sea lions. Heartworms can affect humans as well. While heartworms (or “heartworms”) can affect other species and humans, dogs are it’s primary target. Cases of canine heartworms have been reported all over the United States, in breeds of all kinds. Canine heartworms are not specific to older or younger dogs, male or female dogs, urban or rural dogs or well-to-do or average dogs.
Dog’s can become infected with canine heartworms from insect bites, such as bites from a mosquito. When the mosquito bites the dog, the infection is transmitted through the dogs skin. The larvae develop in the body over a period of several months during which time they grow and migrate to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Symptoms of canine heartworms include:
·Abnormal heart sounds
·Abnormal lung sounds
·Enlargement of the liver
·Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
·Temporary loss of consciousness
In the earliest stages, there are no abnormal signs of infections. In mild cases, coughing is present. In the moderate stage, you may notice coughing, exercise intolerance and abnormal lung sounds. In the most severe cases, all of the above symptoms above may be present. If the infection is severe enough, it can cause death.
Conventional treatments for canine heart worms
There are many conventional treatments for canine heartworms that are highly effective. There are also many natural treatments for canine heartworms that may be effective in the early stages of heartworm infection. The goal for conventional treatments for canine heartworms is to kill all adult worms with an adulticide and all microfilariae with a microfilaricide. The American Heartworm Society offers the detailed treatment description below. Please read carefully.
Adult heartworm therapy (adulticide therapy)
There is currently one drug approved by the FDA for use in dogs for the elimination of adult heartworms. This drug is an organic arsenical compound. Dogs receiving this drug therapy will typically have had a thorough pretreatment evaluation of its condition and will then be hospitalized during the administration of the drug.
Melarsomine dihydrochloride (Immiticide®, Merial) has demonstrated a higher level of effectiveness and safety than any other adult heartworm treatment previously available. It is administered by deep intramuscular injection into the lumbar muscles. For complete information on the classification and treatment for heartworm infected dogs using this product, consult your veterinarian.
The primary post-adulticide complication is the development of severe pulmonary thromboembolism. Pulmonary thromboembolism results from the obstruction of blood flow through pulmonary arteries due to the presence of dead heartworms and lesions in the arteries and capillaries of the lungs. If heartworm adulticide treatment is effective, some degree of pulmonary thromboembolism will occur.
When dead worms are numerous and arterial injury is severe, widespread obstruction of arteries can occur. Clinical signs most commonly observed include fever, cough, hemoptysis (blood in the sputum) and potentially sudden death. It is extremely important to not allow exercise in any dog being treated for heartworms. Often dogs with severe infections will also require the administration of anti-inflammatory doses of corticosteroids.
Elimination of microfilariae
The most effective drugs for this purpose are the macrocyclic lactone (ML) anthelmintics, i.e., milbemycin oxime, selamectin, moxidectin and ivermectin. These drugs are the active ingredients in commonly used heartworm preventives. Although their usage as microfilaricides has not been approved by the FDA, they are widely used by veterinarians as there are no approved microfilaricidal drugs currently available. It is recommended that microfilariae positive dogs being treated with these macrocyclic lactones be hospitalized for at least eight hours following treatment for observation of possible adverse reactions, including those resulting from rapid death of the microfilariae.
Circulating microfilariae usually can be eliminated within a few weeks by the administration of the ML-type drugs mentioned above. Today however, the most widely used microfilaricidal treatment is to simply administer ML preventives as usual, and the microfilariae will be cleared slowly over a period of about six to nine months. – The American Heartworm Society
Natural cures for canine heartworms
While treatments for canine heartworms are best administered under a vets care, some dogs may be too old or too sick to undergo rigorous treatments. They may be too old for preventative medications as well. Preventative care in the form of monthly tablets, chewables, or topicals includes: Ivermectin, Macrocyclic Lactone (ML), Milbemycin, Moxidectin, and Selamectin. Natural cures for canine heartworms are not regulated, so there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of products on the market claiming to cure or prevent canine heartworms. It’s best to speak with your vet about alternative cures or contact the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association to locate a holistic vet in your area.