Types of Worms?
There are several species of worm that can cause problems in dogs. The most common include roundworm, whipworm, tapeworm, spiny-headed worms, lungworm and heartworm. There are many ways in which dogs can become infected with roundworms. Any dog can contract a roundworm infection as a result of direct contact with its eggs or larvae or by eating infected prey; puppies are particularly vulnerable to contracting roundworm though their mother’s milk and even during the gestation period, a roundworm infection can be transmitted through the placenta. Contrarily, a tapeworm infection occurs via a so-called intermediate host; dogs can only become infected by ingestion of prey carrying tapeworm or by licking up fleas carrying the worm. Whipworm and hookworm infections are caused by eggs found, and ingested, in the dog’s surroundings. Heartworm (Dirofilaria) are transmitted by mosquitoes and are quite rare in Northern Europe. However, they are more common in Southern Europe, so bear this in mind if you take your dog with you on holidays!
The Importance of Worming
Different types of worms can cause a variety of complications. Worms in small numbers may go unnoticed and have no visible effect on your dog. This is possible with roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm. In other cases, faint signs may be observed, such as weight loss, lack of energy, dull coat, anal itching and mild intestinal problems. In puppies, roundworms can cause the infamous “worm belly”. Hookworms and whipworms can provide more pronounced intestinal complications such as (bloody) diarrhoea, anaemia and/or weight loss. As the name suggests, heartworm causes heart disease, the main symptoms of which are pulmonary constriction, coughing, decreased stamina and weight loss.
Besides the fact that you obviously want to avoid these problems occurring in your dog, worming is also very important for your own health! Roundworm infections, particularly and hookworm infestations, to a lesser extent, can occur in humans. Young children are especially vulnerable and they can sometimes come into contact with eggs when playing outside in a sandpit or on grass.
Dog Worming Frequency
There are guidelines for the worming of your pets. For dogs, the following is recommended;: puppies should be given worm treatments at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age, then monthly until the age of 6 months. From then on dogs should be wormed 4 times a year. Please note, worm eggs are not visible to the naked eye in the faeces of your pet. An infection can normally only be spotted when there are dead worms in your dog’s faeces, except with tapeworm. A tapeworm infestation becomes noticeable when rice-like grains are found in your dog’s fur or faeces. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian and request a stool survey!
Time of Worming
On a yearly basis, the exact time of a worming treatment is irrelevant as the risk of infection is the same year-round. However, it is sometimes recommended to worm your pet about two weeks before they receive their annual vaccination. This is because a worm infection can disrupt your pet’s immune system and cause vaccinations to be less effective.
Other methods of prevention
Besides trying to avoid having your dog come into contact with worms and worm eggs, you may consider taking some simple measures around the house. This includes the removal of faeces (especially if your pet defecates in the home or garden), covering sandpits and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. Besides regular worming treatments, the use of flea and tick prevention treatments is recommended to prevent tapeworm infestation.
Vetsend has several resources that can be used preventively. These products are based on natural ingredients and ensure that the intestinal environment is unsuitable for the habitation of worms. Additionally, the herbs contribute to good intestinal health. Examples of these herbal treatment products for dogs include Excellent Doggy Parex and Verm-X for Dogs[/purl]. Please note that these resources are exclusively preventive and do not effectively kill worms like regular worm treatments. When using herbal remedies, it is best to continue using a regular worm treatment at least twice a year or have a regular stool survey carried out by your veterinarian.