Worms in Canines

When it comes to treating worms in canines the most important thing to remember is, don’t panic. The majority of dog worms can be treated fairly easily, especially if you catch them early. The only type of canine worm that can be fatal is heartworm. Symptoms of other dog worms are easy to detect, but the most obvious signs of heartworm are coughing and hiccupping. If your dog is coughing and hiccupping, please take him to see a vet immediately.

While there are many symptoms of worms in canines, finding worms in your dog’s feces is one of the most obvious symptoms of “parasitic worms.” At any given time, your dog can have any number of parasitic worms in his system including the half-inch-long hookworm or a tapeworm. Tape worms can reach up to a whopping three feet long if left untreated. In fact, a single tapeworm can have as many as 90 segments. Other types of parasitic worms common to dogs 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.

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In addition to finding worms in your dog’s feces, other symptoms to look for include:

Weight loss
Dull coat
Weakness
A change in your dog’s appetite
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Distended abdomen in puppies
Inability to exercise
Coughing and hiccupping (due to heartworm)

It’s also important to recognize what the different types parasitic worms look like. Round worms look like spaghetti and tapeworm segments look like grains of rice. In addition to your dog’s food, dog worms can be found in 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.

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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.

It is important to keep in mind that fleas are a source of certain types of tapeworms. When a dog accidentally swallows an infected flea, the tapeworms 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.

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. Whipworm and roundworm eggs can remain infectious for years, and hookworm larvae can multiply in the soil in and around a dog run.

If your dog shows symptoms of heartworm or intestinal parasites, again, please contact your vet immediately.

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