Canine Intestinal Worms
The most common intestinal parasites affecting dogs are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. In addition, roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to humans. Roundworms are a threat to children that eat dirt. These worms can damage the retina of the eye leading to blindness. They can also infect the brain and spinal cord which can be fatal. Approximately three percent of people in the United States test positive for roundworm infections. Hookworms can penetrate the skin and cause “Plumbers Itch”. This is typical in those walking barefoot on the beach as well as electricians and plumbers who crawl under raised buildings.
* Roundworms cause puppies to develop a rough haircoat and a potbelly. They may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. Most adult dogs with roundworms show no signs; occasionally they have vomiting and diarrhea.
* Hookworms attach to the wall of the small intestines, suck blood and cause anemia, which can be life threatening in puppies.
* Tapeworms cause few symptoms other than a rough haircoat and unthrifty appearance.
* Whipworms cause diarrhea and weight loss in adult dogs. They only lay eggs periodically so are tough to detect on fecal exams.
* Almost all puppies are born with roundworms in their lungs. At 21 days of age, pups can pass the eggs in their feces. If these eggs are swallowed again further infection results. Infection with hookworms and whipworms can also result from ingesting microscopic eggs on the ground. Normally worm eggs are microscopic but in severe cases the adult worms may appear in the vomitus or diarrhea of infected puppies.
There are two types of tapeworms in dogs:
* Fleas transmit a form called Dipylidium canium. The flea deposits the larval form of the worm in the dog’s blood, prior to withdrawing its blood meal. Three months later owners see flat white, rice-like segments in the dog’s stool or on the anal area.
* Dogs contract the second type, Taenia, by eating infected rodents and rabbits. Whipworms, Trichuris Vulpis, attach to the large intestine and cause chronic diarrhea, weight loss and anemia in dogs. Cats are not susceptible.
WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO
Worms are usually detected by a microscopic examination of your dog’s stool. Safe, effective treatments for all of these worms are available through your vet. Most new over-the-counter products labeled for flea and heartworm prevention have the added advantage of controlling intestinal parasites in dogs and cats. Sentinel is a tablet given monthly that controls heartworms, fleas and intestinal parasites. Program is also a tablet that prevents fleas and intestinal worms. Revolution is a liquid product applied to the skin between the shoulder blades at 30-day intervals, it controls heartworms, fleas and intestinal worms. Advantage is a monthly liquid labeled for fleas and intestinal parasites.