Intestinal Parasites In Dogs

Dogs (and cats) often fall victim to​ several common intestinal parasites known as​ worms. There are a​ large number of​ different types of​ intestinal worms,​ but dogs are most commonly affected by tapeworms,​ roundworms,​ hookworms,​ and whipworms. These parasites live in​ the​ digestive tract (most commonly in​ the​ intestines) where they feed on​ nutrients,​ robbing the​ dog of​ the​ nutrition it​ takes in. Worm infestations can cause a​ variety of​ undesirable symptoms including vomiting,​ diarrhea,​ weight loss,​ and a​ generally poor appearance.

How do Dogs Get Worms?

There are a​ number of​ ways that a​ dog can wind up with an​ infestation of​ any of​ these types of​ intestinal parasites. an​ animal infested with any of​ these types of​ worms may pass the​ worms’ eggs in​ its feces. This is​ a​ strong argument for picking up after your pet as​ often as​ possible and not allowing your dog to​ eat feces (something dogs will do) whenever you​ can. Tapeworm eggs can be spread by fleas. Fleas eat the​ eggs (quite a​ delicacy to​ a​ flea) and then pass them to​ a​ dog when biting it. Some roundworms will lie dormant in​ the​ body of​ a​ pregnant dog and activate just before it​ gives birth. the​ activated worms make their way into the​ intestines of​ the​ unborn puppies where they will thrive after the​ pups are born.

Detecting Worms in​ Dogs

Worm infestations can be difficult to​ detect. While some worms may be passed in​ the​ feces,​ betraying their presence,​ it​ is​ uncommon. if​ a​ dog is​ displaying symptoms that may indicate the​ presence of​ worms,​ a​ vet should be consulted. a​ stool sample will be examined for the​ presence of​ worm eggs (these are microscopic) and a​ medication called a​ “wormer” will be prescribed. Stool samples are often collected as​ part of​ a​ routine dog physical examination in​ order to​ check for the​ presence of​ worms. in​ the​ case of​ tapeworms,​ discarded tapeworm segments may be visible in​ the​ dog’s feces or​ attached to​ the​ fur around the​ anus or​ under the​ tail. to​ the​ naked eye these may look like small bits of​ white rice.

Treating Dogs for Worms

When a​ dog is​ found to​ have an​ infestation of​ worms,​ it​ should be prescribed a​ wormer immediately by a​ vet. Depending on​ the​ severity of​ the​ infestation,​ the​ type of​ worms,​ and the​ likelihood of​ re-infestation,​ the​ treatment may need to​ be repeated one or​ several times. There are over-the-counter wormers available,​ but most vets do not recommend them because they are necessarily weaker and may not kill all types of​ worms and their eggs.

Intestinal worms can cause numerous health problems for dogs,​ up to​ and including death in​ extreme cases. Taking measures to​ prevent infestation,​ detect it​ as​ quickly as​ possible,​ and treat it​ accordingly can help keep your dog safe from these harmful parasites.

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