Apart from providing the right diet, shelter and other things, you must also take care of its health problems. As far as canines are concerned, internal parasites or dog worms are found to be a common health problem. So, it is not really a bad idea for the dog owners (including the prospective ones) to gain some knowledge about this canine health problem.
Types of Dog Worms
Internal parasites are those organisms that live inside the body of the host, from whom they derive their food. In case of dogs, there are many different types of internal parasites that are called dog worms. The most common among them are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms.
While heartworms are found to occupy the heart and the blood vessels, the other four infest the intestines. While these parasites can be found in dogs of all ages, roundworms and hookworms are prominently seen in puppies, whereas, the other three (heartworms, tapeworms and whipworms) are mostly seen in older canines.
How do Dogs Get Worms
One of the commonly found dog worms. There are many different types of roundworms and Toxocara canis is mostly found in dogs. These worms are usually found in the intestine of the dog, but, they may travel through the blood to the liver, lungs and the brain as well. Newborn puppies are found to be infested with these parasites, during the fetal stage.
Once the dogs get infested, they will be overeating for sometime, but, after that, they will lose interest in food. Dogs with roundworms are often found to develop a pot-bellied appearance. Other roundworm symptoms in dogs include lethargy, loose and/or bloody stools, vomiting and breathing problems.
Hookworms are parasites with hook-like structures, which they use for getting attached to the intestinal walls (of the host), from where they suck blood. As in case of roundworms, hookworms too can be transferred to the fetus, while inside the uterus of the infected mother. They may also get transferred to the puppy, through breastfeeding.
The larvae of hookworms are capable of penetrating the skin of the host. Ingestion of larvae or eggs through contaminated water or soil is also a cause for hookworms in dogs. As these parasites suck blood, by attaching to the walls of the intestine, the dog will develop blood loss and resultant anemia, black tarry stools, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue.
As far as whipworms are concerned, the most common method of transmission is ingestion of contaminated food, water and soil. These parasites too attach themselves to the intestinal wall of the host, sucking blood.
In small numbers, they may not cause any symptoms, but, large infestation may cause inflammation of the intestinal surfaces. The affected animal may have mucus in the stools and may also develop anemia, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea.
They are parasites that require an intermediate host that acts as a vector. In case of tapeworms, such hosts include pigs, sheep and fish. Tapeworm infestation in dogs is mainly caused by ingestion of infected fleas that carry tapeworm eggs. Even ingestion of other animals that are infested with fleas or tapeworms may result in transmission of tapeworms.
Symptoms of tapeworm infestation include restlessness and vomiting. The stools of the affected dog may contain white rice-like grains that are actually segments of tapeworms. Such segments may be found in and around the anal area of the animal. The animal may also start scooting, due to the irritation caused by these worms from other dogs.
In large numbers, these worms can cause severe symptoms and may also result in death of the animal. The onset of the symptoms start with a cough. The animal will soon develop chest pain too. These parasites can also affect the vital organs of the dog, as they block the blood vessels.
Apart from the mentioned methods of dog worms transmission, mutual grooming is also a cause for transmission of dog worms, especially, tapeworms. Even ingestion of the stools of other animals and ingestion of uncooked meat may result in dog worms. Prevention and treatment of dog worms is one of the vital aspect of dog care.
So, regular monitoring is very much necessary to prevent and cure the condition. You may also consult the vet and opt for vaccinations in order to prevent dog worms. Timely diagnosis and treatment will prove useful in reducing the discomfort of the animal and also in preventing complications associated with dog worm infestation.