If your dog is acting strangely, he could be depressed, he could have a stomach ache or he could be infected with worms. Parasitic worms are very common among dogs and cats, so recognizing the symptoms is important to getting to bottom of your pet’s health problems.
Parasitic worms come in all shapes and sizes. Each produces specific symptoms, but for the most part, most worms can be easily treated. The most dangerous parasitic worm of them all, however, is the heartworm. Heartworms live in the dog’s heart and in the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. The female heartworm can grow up to 14 inches long and the male heartworm can grow up to seven inches long. Dog’s can have as many as 300 heartworms. If left untreated, heartworms can clog the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart. They can obstruct valve action in the heart, which can lead to malfunctioning of all other vital organs in the dogs body such as the lungs, liver, and kidneys.
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While heartworms do not produce symptoms for up to two years, if caught early (through twice yearly heartworm screenings) heartworms can be treated successfully. It’s up to the owner to have the pet screened multiple times throughout the year so that the infestation does not get out of control.
Before you can treat dog worms, the first thing you must do is figure out what kind of dog worm your pooch has and how he came in contact with them. 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 has many as 90 segments.
Other types of parasitic worms common to dogs include: roundworm, tapeworms, whipworm, and hookworms. Unlike heartworms, which live in the dog’s heart and blood vessels, these types of worms live in the dog’s intestines. Roundworms look like spaghetti and tapeworm segments look like grains of rice. The tapeworm can reach up to a whopping three feet long if left untreated and it has many as 90 segments. The hookworm is roughly a half-inch-long and whipworms have a large head and a whip-like thin tail section.
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How to detect dog worms
One of the most obvious ways to detect dog worms is to simply examine your dog’s feces. This can be accomplished by sight alone. Dog worms can also be found in your dog’s food, on or buried in your dog’s fur, around his anus, and around his paws (from scratching). It is not uncommon to find parasitic worms in your dog’s ears.
Where do dog worms come from?
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.
Dog 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 dog worms
Symptoms of dog worms include:
·Change in your dog’s appetite
·Coughing and hiccupping (due to heartworm)
·Distended abdomen in puppies
·Inability to exercise
How to prevent dog worms
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent dog worms. One of the most important ways to prevent a serious dog 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 dog worms listed above, please contact your vet immediately.