Dogs are man's best friends, a known fact. If you are a dog owner, it is very important that you have information about your pet's health. One common health concern of every dog owner is their pets having intestinal worms. This is one of the common infections your dog may fall prey to. Therefore, it is very important to know about the signs as it will help start treatment soon.
Dog worms have no symptoms. It is very difficult to judge if a dog is affected by a worm infestation. Normally, a dog may show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, etc. It may have an unusually-dull coat, loss of appetite, decrease in energy levels, pot-bellied appearance, and severe coughing. If you find that something is not right with your dog, then you should think about getting it checked for intestinal parasites. There are 5 types of intestinal worms in dogs.
Worms that lead to many dog health problems include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and heartworms. Most of the time, the worms infiltrate dogs when they eat infected stools, soil contaminated with worms, raw, uncooked meat, or from flea and mosquito bites. Different worms have different modes of transmission.
Roundworms are zoonotic worms, that is, they can spread to humans from animals. They infect dogs who ingest contaminated soil or stools containing their eggs or larvae. The eggs and larvae develop into an adult worm which goes on with its life cycle. It continues to affect the health of the dog till it is rid of completely. Puppies contract roundworms from their mother, in the uterus or through her milk. The infestation causes diarrhea, vomiting, a dull coat, weight loss, and a pot-bellied appearance. They can be observed in the dog's stool as well as vomit.
Tapeworms infect dogs after the dogs ingest fleas infected with them. They cause abdominal pain, nervousness, vomiting, weight loss, and severe itching around the anus. You can see broken, moving parts of the worm in the dog's stools as well as around its anus.
Hookworms too are zoonotic and can infect humans from infected dogs. They are too small to be visible to the naked eye. They infect the dog when it eats infected dog feces containing the worm. It causes loose stools, blood in stools, bloating, gas, a dull coat, and anemia. You will find that the dog eats unusually more than what it used to, but does not seem to gain any weight, instead loses it. This is because the hookworms use their teeth to dig into the walls of the intestine and suck the dog's blood. Puppies are infected from their mother in the uterus or while nursing.
Whipworms are very nasty intestinal worms. They are the ones that are most difficult to get rid of. They too are passed on when a dog eats infected soil, feces, or tends to step into stools or mud containing the worms. When it licks it paws, the worms get transferred into the intestines. They cause bloody stools, unusual appetite, bloating, abdominal cramps, a dull coat, anemia, weight loss, and loss of energy in the animal.
Heartworms are potentially life-threatening, and if untreated, can lead to premature death of a pet. They can spread through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are carriers and transfer the worm into the blood of the dog while feeding. These worms travel down to the heart muscle through the blood and lead to many complications. The symptoms are not often observed in the early stages and appear when the infection has reached an advanced stage. The symptoms include lethargy, appetite loss, breathing difficulty, unusual tiredness, and coughing. This condition requires medical help immediately or it could lead to congestive heart failure and death.
A regular check up with the veterinarian will help in early detection and elimination of these worms from your dog. Make it a point to pick up the feces and discard it once your dog is done. This will help prevent other dogs from sniffing, eating the feces, and getting infected with parasites. Prevention is always better than cure and therefore, a bit of care will help prevent the spread of these intestinal worms. For more details, speak to your veterinarian. And remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog.