Early worm detection can help save your pet a tremendous amount of unnecessary pain and suffering. Early worm detection can also save you hundreds of dollars in vet and prescription bills. In the initial stages or worms, the condition is fairly easy to treat. If the infection is allowed to progress, worms can lead to weight loss, anemia, vomiting, and in some cases, even death. Fortunately early worm detection can be as easy as a quick trip to the vet or a two-minute exam that you can perform on your own at home.
There are a number of different ways to identify worms. You can identify them by becoming familiar with what common parasite worms look like or you may browse through images online. The most common types of parasite worms in dogs include hookworms, tapeworms, roundworm, whipworm, and heartworm. Hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and whipworms live in the dog’s intestines and heartworms live in the dog’s heart and in the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. Heartworm is the deadliest parasite infection for dogs.
To identify parasite worms, you can begin by looking for dog worms in your dog’s food or buried in your dog’s fur. Worms can also be found around your dog’s anus, around his paws (from scratching), and in your dog’s ears. Roundworms look like spaghetti and tapeworm segments look like grains of rice.
You can review pictures of the different types of parasite at The Dog Chat Forum at www.dogchatforum.com, Photo Vault, or “Photovalet. Pic search is another useful site. Pic Search features more than 2,000 worm images. Users may search through images by entering the type of worm or search page by page. Pic Search has roughly 20 images per page. Each image offers basic information about the worm and/or a link to a website that offers more detailed information about each subject.
To detect worms, you can also check for symptoms. Common symptoms of parasite worms include:
- Change in your dog’s appetite
- Coughing and hiccupping (due to heartworm)
- Distended abdomen in puppies
- Dull coat
- Inability to exercise
- Weight loss
While early detection is important, prevention is even more important. Regular visits to your vet should help you detect worms early (twice yearly vet visits is recommended), but your vet will also have preventative medications, vaccinations, and many methods to help prevent worms in the first place. 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.
In addition to prevention, you should keep your dog clean and well groomed. Dispose of dog feces immediately and never leave it in piles around your yard, on the dog run or in the park. If your dog has symptoms of worms, please contact a vet’s care.
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