Worms are a topic every dog owner SHOULD know a lot about, but unfortunately most of us are completely oblivious on this topic. The truth is your dog will most likely get infected with worms at some point in their lives because dogs tend to eat things they shouldn’t eat and roll in things they shouldn’t roll in. If prevention is the best medicine, then the first step to preventing is knowledge. So how do dogs get worms? That’s the topic of today’s article.
First we will talk about the various ways dogs get infected with worms, then we will discuss the symptoms of worms and how to treat them if you suspect your dog might be infected. It’s important to be aware of the fact that worms can also spread to humans. If that’s not enough motivation to prevent your dog from getting worms, I don’t know what is!
What You'll Learn
Common Ways Dogs Get Worms
There are a number of ways your dog can get worms. The most common are coming into contact with infected soil, contact with another infected dog or small animal, eating infected stool (gross I now), through a nursing mother, and through insects or parasites like mosquitoes and ticks.
Below we will cover each one of these in detail.
Some soil is contaminated and contains worm eggs which are not visible to the human eye. The eggs remain dormant and stay dormant for long periods. This increases survivability for the worm’s species but is bad news for our dogs. When your dog eats something from the ground, they will eat a little bit of the soil. When they eat the contaminated soil, there is a chance they will become infected. The dormant eggs will hatch, and your dog will get a case of worms.
As disgusting as it is, dogs eat fecal matter. Stool is not safe for dogs to consume. It’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure their dog is well fed and looked after so it doesn’t eat stool. Here are some reasons why.
- It is plain Gross
- High chance it contains worms and worm eggs
- Will make your dog sick
Similar to infected soil, the worm eggs and possibly adult worms in the stool will make your canine companion sick.
Spreading By Contact
Hookworms larvae are microscopic and can spread on contact. Usually through the skin on the soles of your dog’s legs. Hookworms can also be spread by ingesting contaminated things like soil, stool, and infected food. A dog owner should be responsible and see that their dog is fed correctly. Some careless dog owners feed old or stale food to dogs. This is not healthy for your dog.
Carriers Like Rodents and Other Small Prey
Dogs sometimes hunt small prey like small rats, birds, and insects. They might contain worms or worm eggs and will infect your dog when ingested.
Another way worms spread is through insects and parasites like mosquitoes and ticks. Some species of mosquitoes are capable of carrying heartworms. Heartworm is deadly and only serves to further the point that dogs should be dewormed regularly. Mosquitoes bite an infected animal and spread the worms by biting another animal. Aedes, Mansonia and Anopheles species of mosquito are all capable of transmitting heartworm.
Puppies and Their Nursing Mothers
Almost all puppies and kittens have intestinal worms. The worms are stimulated to grow during pregnancy due to hormones that are released. These worms are transferred to the fetus through the placenta (known as transplacental). Worms can also be passed to the puppies from the mother’s milk. This is why it’s imperative to deworm nursing dogs and puppies.
Symptoms of Worms
Now that you know how dogs get worms, let’s talk about how to tell if your dog has been infected. Below are the most common symptoms of infection in dogs.
- Blood red tinted stool
- Mucous present in the fecal matter
- An irregular appetite
- Excess licking or irritation around the anus
- Abdominal enlargement
- Unhealthy hair coat
- Sudden weight loss
- Signs in your pets showing abdominal or rectal discomfort
If you believe your dog has a worm infection, make sure you begin a treatment plan ASAP
The most common and convenient way to treat worms is getting over the counter deworming tablets. The most significant advantage of this method is convenience. However, many intestinal parasites like tapeworms are not treatable through over the counter medication.
Regardless of whether it’s a tapeworm or not, you should have a vet look at your dog. This should be followed up by stool examination which is a laboratory analysis of your pet’s feces.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding on the medicine for your dog. Methods of administering medication may also vary. It is always recommended to seek professional help. There are a ton of drugs on the market these days. What works for a full grown dog may not be suitable for a puppy.
The size, age, and current health of your dog will influence the amount and method of administering the medicine. The medicine can be in the form of pills, tablets, liquid and the dosage may also vary from breed to breed.
My Dogs Worms keep Coming Back!
It’s a hopeless feeling when you’ve successfully treated your dogs worms only to find out that they have been infected again a few weeks down the road. If you feel like you’re dog is constantly getting worms, you aren’t alone. Luckily there are some things you can do to prevent this annoying cycle.
If the worms continue to come back, the odds are it’s tapeworms. Your dog gets tapeworms from ingesting fleas. This means the best way to prevent your dog from getting worms is to have proper flea control. You’ll want to make sure your dog is on a high quality flea medication, but that’s not enough. Fleas hang out in the dirt of your yard. If your dog goes digging and accidentally eats a flea, they are at risk of tapeworm. Because of this, it’s important to spray your yard with a flea control product. If you don’t have the flea problem under control, you won’t have the worm problem under control.
Once you’ve got a handle on the flea situation, make sure you deworm your dog with tapeworm treatment to help eliminate any worms in the intestines.
Can I Get Worms From My Dog?
Most of us have heard that we can’t get sick from our dogs. That may be true for the most part. For example, if your dog has the “doggy flu”, they can’t pass it onto you, vice-versa. However, you CAN actually get worms from your dog. Let’s say your taking your dog on a walk and your dog walks by an area where another dog just pooped. If this dog had an intestinal worm infection, even if the owner cleaned up after the dog right away, the worm eggs that aren’t visible to the human eye will still be on the ground. If your dog even sniffs that area, the worm eggs can enter through the nostrils. Now let’s say once you get home, your dog kisses you on the lips…you’re now at risk of getting worms!
The whole point of giving this illustration is to show you how easy it is to get worms from your dog even if you didn’t know your dog was infected. The best way to prevent worms from spreading from your dog to anyone else in your household is to make sure you don’t kiss your dog on the mouth or pet your dog while eating. If you pet your dog and your hand comes into contact with a few of the worm eggs, then you pick up a chip and eat the chip, you’ll likely ingest some worm eggs. It’s especially important to make sure you keep your hands clean after petting a dog you just met.
Taking good care of your pets is important. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure a safe and happy life for their pets. The bitter truth is that if you cannot afford the expenses to raise a pet, you shouldn’t be raising one in the first place.
You don’t have to splurge on overly expensive bedding and toys for your dog. However, it’s a fundamental concept that a pet owner should take care of his or her pet and taking it to the vet to get proper health checkups and shots is a vital part of the responsibilities of a pet owner.
Visit the vet twice per year at the very least. This will keep your canine friend healthy and happy. This will also reduce health hazards and risk of infection to you and your family. This is a total win-win situation.
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